Chippenham couple Bill and Sue Reed are appealing for clues to solve the mystery of their disappearing ducklings.

They were overjoyed a few weeks ago when a mother duck returned to the safety of their garden to rear her young for the third year in a row.

The couple had been taking care of the 17 ducklings, the largest litter yet, in their 6ft high walled garden next to St Andrew’s Church on Market Place.

But just eight days after their birth the ducklings mysteriously disappeared.

Mrs Reed, 65, said: “I went to feed them on Friday morning and they weren’t there. There was no sign of any carnage or anything at all.”

On Easter Sunday she found one of the ducklings dead, half buried in the vegetable garden, but no trace of any of the others.

She said: “All the church parishioners came to see them and we’re all really sad. The mother’s been back every day, she was absolutely distraught, wandering around and listening. That’s what made it so upsetting.

“I know it’s nature that some animals prey on others, but what predator comes in 17 times and takes them all?

"I’d like to know if anybody can give us any clues.”