Firefighters used rackets from their station's sports cupboard to rescue a brood of ducklings trapped in a suburban stormwater drain.

Fire and Emergency northern shift manager Jaron Phillips said firefighters partially succeeded, getting eight stricken birds out of a drain on the corner Paewai Rd and Wirihana Rd with the help of sports equipment earlier this morning.

A crew from Titirangi, armed with a tennis racket and badminton racquet, staged a rescue effort to pull as many ducklings as possible out of harm's way.

But at least three ducklings could not be coerced out of the pipe and were left.

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A Titirangi Volunteer Fire Brigade spokesman said the tennis racket blocked the drain, preventing the birds from escaping, while the badminton racket was used as a scoop.

While five of the fluffy brood could be saved at least three took fright, keeping well clear of the firefighter's long reach.

"They were too far up the pipe and I couldn't get them out," said the firefighter who said he could see them cowering high in the dark drain.

The mother duck was initially around but soon deserted the ducklings as rescue efforts got underway.

The Titirangi firefighter said he was hopeful the remaining ducklings would find their way out later today.