AN animal-loving couple are being woken at the quack of dawn - by a family of super-cute ducklings that have set up home in their back garden.

The mother duck and 20 ducklings waddled onto the scene in early April and are still enjoying the peace of tranquillity of Trudy and Simon Gilson's garden in Tiptree.

Their feathered friends have become part of the family and Trudy has posted regular updates - photos and video footage - on the Tiptree Community Group Facebook page.

"We think of the ducks as our extended family," she said.

"My husband text me at work to say the mother and 14 ducklings were in our garden. Then another seven appeared, taking the total to 21.

"We researched it and apparently ducks often 'adopt' ducklings from other families.

"One of the ducklings has now disappeared but there are still 20.

"They're wonderful and fascinating to watch.

"The mum is absolutely fantastic. She's so protective of the ducklings and always looks out for them.

"We feel so blessed - even when they wake us up at 5am!

"It's like having a young family again, nudging each other to decide whose turn it is to go and feed them."

Trudy and Simon have had ducks in their garden before.

They have a duck house and a family of coots have also taken up residence.

"It'll be interesting to see how long the ducklings stay," added Trudy.

"We feed them every day and they're getting through bags of frozen peas and sweetcorn, not to mention a big bag of duck feed every week.

"They've become part of our family and by watching them grow, we feel we're witnessing something not everyone gets to experience.

"I'm also shocked and surprised at how much attention they’ve been getting on Facebook.

"I thought I'd post something in our Tiptree Community Group and the first post got over 100 likes.

"I've given a few updates since then and I'm glad it can bring a little bit of happiness in such rotten times, during the pandemic."