Top of main content

Four tiny ducklings rescued from 8-metre deep sewage works

Wednesday 29th July 2020 13:50

Rescued ducklings

This was the heart-warming moment four tiny ducklings were saved from an eight-metre deep storm tank at a Thames Water sewage treatment works near London.

The fledglings and their mum were spotted in a tiny puddle of water at the bottom of the concrete tank at Fiddlers Hamlet STW in Epping Forest.

Site engineers provided the brood with food and water while hatching a rescue plan with experts from Thames Water’s biodiversity team and the Swan Sanctuary charity.

Tone Scaffolding Services, which was carrying out some other work at the site, agreed to help and, using an eight-metre ladder, a scaffolder and a sanctuary worker wearing harnesses climbed down into the pit. The mother duck flew away but the chicks were all carefully gathered up using nets and winched to safety.

They were taken to the Swan Sanctuary where they were warmed up and given a clean bill of health. They hope to reunite the ducklings with their mum at a nearby lake.

Storm tanks are normally empty but help protect the environment by filling up with excess wastewater during heavy rain.

Kirsty Halford, Thames Water’s nature reserves manager, said: “When the team saw the ducklings at the bottom of the tank they knew there was no way they’d get out without some help. They were only a few days’ old and clearly weren’t able to fly.

“We're not sure how they got in there, and mum was doing her best to look after and protect them, but there was only so much she could do in the circumstances. Looking after wildlife is a huge part of what we do at Thames Water so everyone was determined to get them out safely.

"We were all so happy when they were rescued. A big thank-you to everyone involved, especially Tone Scaffolding Services who did an amazing job, and the Swan Sanctuary for their expert advice and after-care."

Thames Water works to protect and enhance wildlife habitats on and around its operational sites and to open them up to the public where possible.

From 2020 to 2025 the company has committed to enhance biodiversity by five per cent at 253 of its most important sites for nature. The area of land to be improved by the programme is around 4,000 hectares – two-and-a-half times the size of Heathrow Airport.

This will be achieved by improving the condition of existing habitats through changes in grassland management, and with the creation of new habitats such as wetlands, woodlands and hedgerows.

Thames Water also manages 12 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which are legally protected wildlife areas, and with 47 of the UK’s 224 chalk streams in its region, the company has committed to protecting these rare and biodiverse sites.