THREE little ducklings are now in safe hands after being trapped down a drain in Davenham on Monday morning – following a painstaking rescue operation that involved bread and workers making cheeping noises.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and the RSPCA were alerted to the birds’ plight by a member of the public who heard cheeping coming from a drain on the busy A556 roundabout.

On arriving at the location in London Road, Davenham, Highways Engineers Jerry Gibbs and Martin Howard established that the ducklings were in fact trapped in an underground pipe.

With the assistance RSPCA Inspector Nadine Pengilly, they devised a rescue operation to entice them along the pipe and into a manhole where they could be reached.

This involved the strategic positioning of slices of bread – and the three rescuers making lots of encouraging cheeping noises.

Fortunately, the ducklings were more than happy to comply and were gently scooped out of the drain one by one using a net.

Sadly, there was no sign of the mother duck, so the birds were carefully placed in a box and taken to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich.

Jerry said: “The whole rescue took about an hour and I’m pleased to say ducklings didn’t seem fazed by their little adventure.

“We think they ended up in the pipe after falling down a gulley, and they could have been stuck down there for a few hours or even a few days – we can’t be sure.

“The ducklings are now being looked after by the RSPCA and will hopefully be released back into the wild once they are fully fit and able to fend for themselves.

“It’s not the first time we’ve had to come to the rescue of wildlife stuck in a drain, but it is the first time we’ve had to make cheeping noises in the course of a day’s work.

“But it was all worth it for a happy ending.”