Customers had a surprise when they encountered a proud mother duck and her 11 ducklings waddling through a charity shop.
The fluffy new family had to be escorted to safety by staff after they hatched on an 8ft wall in the backyard of the Kidney Research UK charity outlet in St Ives, Cambs.
Their perilous journey involved a 100 yard trek through the store, across pavements and over a busy road to the River Great Ouse quayside, where they plopped three foot down into the water.
Onlookers watched in amazement as the ducks processed past, before jumping into the river and swimming happily away.
Shop manager Carol Andrews has been escorting ducks each Spring since the shop opened seven years ago.
She believes it is the same mother duck who returns to have her ducklings in the safety of the enclosed back yard.
“We opened seven years ago and it has happened every year since then,” she said.
“The mother builds her nest on top of an ivy-covered 8ft wall in the back yard and when the ducklings hatch she pushes them out of the nest onto a picnic bench, then they have to jump 4ft onto the ground.
“I didn’t know if they would come again this year, but I was outside in the yard about a month ago and saw the mother flying into her nest.”
Every year Carol makes a ramp so the mother duck and her brood can get out of the yard into the storeroom.
She then helps them make their first journey to the river, guiding them carefully past fast cars and pedestrians.
“It has become an annual event and we get lots of people stopping to watch,” she added.
“They are on their own now, I can’t do any more for them, but I will go down to the river every day to make sure they are alright.”
A spokesman for the RSPB said: “It’s wonderful that these people are happy to help these ducks on their first journey to the river.
“Ducks tend to nest on the ground, so it’s quite unusual for one to nest on top of a high wall but it does happen.
“We have records of ducks nesting on balconies, especially if there is a lot of pressure for space.
“If this duck knows it is has been safe on the wall in the yard in the past then it will go back.”