By ANNA EDWARDS
Too late: The terrified duckling quacks in panic as the heron snaps it up
These amazing photos capture the moment a heron snapped up two newborn ducklings as their mother helplessly watched.
The drama began when the heron swooped over a lake in Dublin and attempted to panic ducks and pick off any stray birds as it searched for its next meal.
A terrified mother duck tried to shepherd her family of eight ducklings - born just the day before - into the safety of some reeds by the side of the lake.
Rush to the reeds: The mother duck frantically tries to get her day old ducklings to shelter in some plants
But the wily bird had spotted this mother's nest and was laying in wait to gobble not one, but two of her precious offspring.
Photographer, Paul Hughes, 40, from Dublin witnessed the event.
'The heron was trying to scare the ducklings away from their parents so it could pick up the stragglers,' he said.
'The mother was trying to herd her young to the safety of an island in the lake as well as the nearby reed beds.
'But this heron was very canny - he had clocked this plan and had one of his own.
'He went right in for the kill with no messing about.
'It's part of nature and people should understand that.'
Back for seconds: The heron holds up its second catch of the day
Gobbled up: The heron eats the baby bird, leaving the distressed mother duck with just six of her eight babies left
Herons, which stand at 40 inches tall, with a 77 inches wingspan and a weight around 4lbs, also raise their young this time of year.
Mother herons lay between four and five pale blue eggs - when they hatch the chicks require constant food to avoid starvation.
Herons usually feast on fish or frogs and are incredibly patient creatures, standing still for long periods of time before catching their prey by striking with their long beaks.
Once it has returned with food the parent heron will cough up the partially digested remains for their offspring to eat.
Heron chicks are prone to cold - which means the parents must not leave their young for too long or they will die.
This means they are in a constant battle against time to find as much food as possible to increase the chances of their own chicks surviving.