Ducklings born out of season and rescued by a North Yorkshire wildlife centre have been successfully released back into the wild.

The four ducks were set free on to the River Foss at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, in Fossgate, by Annette Pyrah, of Selby Wildlife Rescue.

They were immediately drawn to one duck which could have been their mother.

Annette said: “It’s important that they get back to life in the wild. We can’t keep them in captivity. If I hadn’t released them now, they would have flown off.”

The ducklings were discovered wandering among Christmas shoppers in York after hatching unseasonably late in November.

Annette was made aware by concerned passers-by, and came to collect the surviving four from the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.

“The mild autumn confused their mother,” she said. “If they had been left, they could all have been picked off by sparrowhawks. The main danger for them would have been cold weather.”

The ducklings were kept under a heat lamp and given special care to ensure they survived, and to prepare them for their return to the wild.