HEARTBREAKING images show a group of mother ducks desperately trying to save a duckling from being devoured by a hungry heron.
The 41-year-old bus driver managed to snap the rare shots showing the duckling flailing around in the heron’s beak trying to escape from being eaten.
A flurry of mother ducks are shown flapping around in distress and attacking the long-legged predator.
However, their efforts appear to be in vain as later images show the tragic duckling lifeless in the bird’s mouth.
Another image shows the ducking’s webbed feet sticking out of the heron’s beak as it’s about to be swallowed.
Speaking today, Phil said: “On this pond there were about 20 or so male Mallards and only three females, who each had 3-4 ducklings each.
“We noticed the heron on the far bank but it seemed to be roosting and not actively hunting.
“Then there was a large splash which drew our attention as the heron had lunged into the water to catch one of the ducklings.
“This caused ALL the mothers to react, abandoning their own chicks to try and save this one.
“The heron was only a few metres away and landed to finish its meal.
“The ducks didn’t pursue it at this point and each returned back to their own chicks.
“It was strange that not a single male duck reacted, at all.”
Phil also posted the images onto Facebook on Tuesday, writing: “This image will upset some people, however, it is a true reminder that nature is both beautiful and brutal.
“Grey heron with a successful catch of a mallard duckling with two mother mallard’s hot on its heels to try to stop it.”
The dramatic images attracted dozens of comments from impressed social media users.
Martin Mann said: “Right place, right time. Fantastic photo.”
Matt Veale said: “Great capture indeed.
“It’s hard not to feel a little bad for the duckling and it’s parents but that’s the circle, same difference with a young of the heron being predated and so on.”
And Graham Smith added: “Amazing catch, very harsh subject matter, but the circle of life indeed. Poor wee duckling.”