A mallard has hatched a brood of seven ducklings – in the middle of Britain’s recent cold snap.
Wild female ducks usually have their young in spring and summer and experts are stumped as to why the ducklings have arrived so early.
Staff at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Slimbridge Centre, where the ducks were hatched, are providing extra grain to help them survive the bitter cold.
The ducklings are thought to have been hatched on December 3 and will grow quickly and develop feathers over the next couple of weeks.
Warden James Lee, from WWT Slimbridge, said: “Occasionally ducklings do hatch quite far out of season at Slimbridge, but it is certainly a surprising sight to see the young family, especially during such cold weather.
“Many visitors are doing double-takes when they walk past her.
“It will be pretty challenging for her to bring up her young in these cold conditions but she is doing well so far and is being given extra grain by staff and visitors.
“We hope a few of her young will survive through to the New Year when they should be hardy enough to survive on their own.”