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Sitting ducks

20 April 2010

A mother duck must have been quackers when she took 18 chicks for a dip in a tank of sewage.

Ducklings stuck in sewage treatment works tank

The fluffy youngsters had to be rescued by Wessex Water staff after their mother’s bizarre outing almost landed them in Dorset’s sewerage system.

Although she could easily fly to freedom, the duck forgot to consider her tiny brood which became trapped behind high walls that surrounded the tank (pictured above).

Wessex Water treatment controller Malcolm Farrell said when the chicks were spotted they were in danger of being washed into underground pipes.

He said: “Staff carrying out their duties heard a lot of quacking and discovered the family in one of the tanks.

“The mother could get out but a high wall prevented the chicks from escaping. Several ducklings had also been washed dangerously close to pipes which would have swept them away from the sewage treatment works.”

A worker armed with a net managed to fish all the chicks out and reunite them with their mother, following the incident at Hazlebury Bryan sewage treatment works, near Sturminster Newton.

But one particularly exhausted bird (pictured below) had to be cleaned and nursed back to health before it could be released.

Duckling rescued from sewage treatment works tankDuckling recovering after being stuck in sewage treatment works tank

In a strange twist Wessex Water revealed this is not the first time a Dorset bird had taken a liking to its sewage treatment works.

Recently an owl scooped down into a four-metre-deep tank full of sewage at a site near Weymouth.

The creature was hours from death when Wessex Water staff came to its aid with a makeshift net made from a pole and sack.

It was released back into the wild after receiving treatment at Abbotsbury Swannery.

Eagle-eyed staff also saved a cockatiel which was believed to have escaped from a local aviary damaged in high winds.

Mr Farrell said he was considering requesting that staff completed a course in bird care.

He said: “It’s a mystery why the birds decide to fly into our sewage tanks but luckily our staff were on hand on all occasions to save them from an unpleasant end.”

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