WILDLIFE is “going down the drain” in a popular park because of a dangerous sluice, prompting a rescue mission to be launched to save drowning ducklings.

Ducklings are being sucked into a sluice in Southchurch Park, Southend, with the entrance holes just wide enough for the ducklings to swim through.

A kind-hearted walker used a fishing net to rescue two ducklings which were spotted submerged under water in the sluice.

Several ducklings have reportedly drowned in the sluice.


Julie Callow, who regularly uses the park, saw the rescue on Monday unfold.

The 55-year-old, said: “The ducklings have already disappeared since it happened.

“Either they went back and drowned or now know not to swim anywhere near it.

“It’s dangerous for them, they are so weak when they are that young. This has been happening all spring, and I believe over previous years too.

“We’re already losing our wildlife in the park as it is, without issues like this happening. They’re being flushed down the drain, quite literally.

“The council needs to take action. The birds were lucky people were around to help. They were stuck under the water.”

The sluice is in place to prevent the park and the nearby area flooding.

Council bosses ruled out introducing mesh netting to stop the birds swimming through.

Carole Mulroney, Liberal Democrat councillor for Leigh ward, urgently requested officers visit the park.

She said: “The water level was the same on both sides when the team got down there. But we have had heavy rain recently, so that may explain why they haven’t been able to get out. We don’t want any animal to be trapped and need rescuing, or lose their lives.”

“The outfall in Southchurch Park east has a standard design trash screen, which allows the ducklings to be able to swim in and out freely due to the stable water levels either side of the screen. On occasion, the water level may drop, and the pump in the chamber will automatically shut off, protecting any wildlife.

“Netting would not be a viable option due to the concern of wildlife becoming trapped. Debris could block the netting.”