Four ducklings stuck down a grate were rescued as a community came together to retrieve them with a ladle.
Andy Ryan, a production editor, spotted a duck with some ducklings on the pavement as he was walking to his home in Penkridge, Staffordshire, on Wednesday lunchtime.
He said he tried to encourage them to go in the direction of the canal, but the mother duck refused to go more than 30 yards.
“It was quacking loudly and was evidently stressed,” he said.
Mr Ryan, 45, said he was soon joined by other locals trying to help, and one of them – a postman – spotted some ducklings trapped under a grate.
“Then a lady ran over with a long plastic ladle.
“She and the tool guy somehow extracted four tiny trilling birds from between the narrow grates.”
When the birds still seemed reluctant to head off to the water, one of the rescuers retrieved a box and they put the ducklings inside.
Eventually they left the ducklings by the canal and the birds followed their mother into the water.
Mr Ryan returned later in the day and found they were still “swimming happily together”.
He added: “The whole experience made me feel proud to live in a community where everyone pitches in to help our most vulnerable, albeit non-human, members.”