ORPHANED ducklings that watched their mother being crushed by a car are recovering well, staff at a wildlife rescue centre have said.

The family of 11 ducklings are believed to have been just a few days old when they were brought to Cricklade-based Oak and Furrows.

They were rushed to the animal hospital after a motorist accidentally killed their mother and a sibling on a road near Minety last Wednesday.

Serena Stevens, the founder of Oak and Furrows and the head of animal care, said: “They came in last week. The man was driving, the sun was in his eyes and he didn’t see the birds. He killed mummy and squashed a sibling.”

The man was inconsolable, she said. A woman who also stopped by the road brought the 11 ducklings to Oak and Furrows in a hat box.

Serena said that it was rare to see such a large group of Mallard ducklings come to the centre this late in the year.

They are being cared for by animal carer Katia Whitfield, who is taking them home at night.

“You have to keep an eye on them,” said Serena. “The first few days are very important. That’s when they can give up.”

Katia, who has been an animal carer at Oak And Furrows for more than a decade, said: “I think the ducklings are starting to recognise my voice. When I go into a room they peep away at me.”

At the moment the ducklings are enjoying splashing in their water tray, chasing each other and cuddling up to a toy chicken which is playing the role of mummy duck.

“They’re growing fast,” said Katia. “They’ve almost doubled in size since they came in.

“They’ll soon be at an age when they can manage on their own overnight.”

The group yesterday got an additional member, when an orphaned duckling joined them from another rescue centre.

“They don’t do well on their own,” said Katia. “They pine and they’re miserable.”

The ducklings will remain at the centre for up to two months while they develop their strength.

They are being fed a mixture of mealworm and greens.

“At first they were scared,” said Serena. “But now they’re all chilled out.”

The ducklings will be released on to land owned by friends of the rescue centre later in the year.

For more about Oak and Furrows, which is currently fundraising, visit the website, which can be found at www.oandf.co.uk