A DISTRESSED mother duck was helpless to resue her nine ducklings after they got stuck in Taunton's French Weir.

They were frantically trying to jump up onto a ledge to join her at the top of the weir as she panicked in the calmer waters above them.

Initially eight of the babies were spotted jumping up and then being washed down the slope to the river below as they failed in their efforts to reach their mum.

They then re-appeared and repeatedly attempted to get up with their mother.

One of the recently hatched chicks was seen swimming around with the mother, but then inadvertenly joined her siblings after going to inspect their plight and falling down the step.

The mother was swimming around quacking away furiously trying to encourage her brood to keep trying.

One onlooker who watched the drama for half an hour said: "Everyone was trying to egg them on, but it all seemed too much for them.

"If only the mother had joined them, they could all have swum happily down the River Tone.

"It was too dangerous for anyone to try to rescue them. I'm not sure how it ended up - if anyone knows I'd love to hear."