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By Peter Cheimets

July 13, 2023.  A few days ago, my wife Karen Benedek and I were trying to get in a walk between downpours when we came upon a mallard duck standing on Arlington Street quacking at a near hysterical pitch. We quickly determined that the duck was calling attention to the fact her five ducklings had been swept into a storm drain and the ducklings could be heard chirping as wildly as their mother was quacking. I called the Winchester Police to see if they could help get the services needed to rescue the ducklings. Within minutes Officer Ryan Mawn, newly hired Officer Kyle Franco, and his field training officer Robert Delaney arrived. They talked to their dispatcher, who requested fire department assistance.  Lt. Skip Frary, and Firefighters Jim Saunders and Rusty Magliozzi came to the rescue.   

At this point mommy duck decided there were too many people around and she took to the wing. She flew around the scene quacking encouragement.

The firefighters opened the storm drain, lowered a ladder and assessed the situation. Saunders, double gloved and wearing high boots, descended into the sewer. A bucket on a rope was lowered to collect the ducklings. With a fire engine, and 2 polices cars at the scene, nearby residents and people walking by began to gather. At this point, maybe sensing things were moving forward, mommy duck returned to Arlington Street and started pacing. She was immediately given a police detail, who kept her from getting run over by cars trying to drive through the chaos. After a few minutes she took off again, and landed near 34 Arlington St. Meanwhile firefighter Saunders was able to put a single duckling in the bucket. It was released on the lawn next to the storm drain and quickly reunited with its mother.

Down in the hole, the other four ducklings had moved as far as they could from Saunders so the ladder was removed to give him more room. With the ladder gone and the ducklings in easy reach, things moved forward quickly. Within a minute or two Saunders placed the other four ducklings into the bucket and they were released on the lawn. Mommy and sibling greeted the four new arrivals and, satisfied that she had all her family, mom led her brood into the underbrush. At this point Saunders called for the bucket again, it seems that there was also a toad in the storm drain who was given a change of scenery.

Peter Cheimets develops telescopes for the Smithsonian Institution and is a town meeting member.   Video courtesy of Skip Frary.

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