Weird friendship-when food became best friend… This duck got himself all in a flap after inadvertently straying into the path of a giant Shoebill while heading towards water. But it was all water off a duck’s back for the imposing 4ft tall bird which instead of eating his smaller friend, carefully picked him up in his beak and moved him aside. Despite its fearsome reputation as a predator around water, the Shoebill seemed more concerned with completing its journey than tucking into a feathered snack. Bird food: The 4ft Shoebill picks up the squirming duck after it walked across its path at San Diego Wild Animal Park in the U.S. These extraordinary pictures were captured by 51-year-old amateur photographer Mark Kay, at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in the U.S. Mr Kay said he spotted the endangered Shoebill standing alone and immediately grabbed his Canon 1 DS camera and started shooting. He said: ‘I was getting my camera out of the bag when I started to hear the ducks quacking. I immediately started shooting. ‘I thought the Shoebill was going to eat the duck, but soon realised he was moving him out of the way. ‘I suspect the duck had moved into his personal space. I have been back to the animal park a number of times, but have not captured anything as interesting there during my returns. ‘After the duck fell to the ground, he seemed flustered and just walked away. The Shoebill just carried on.’ Excuse me: The little duck, which is towered over by the endangered Shoebill, is gently moved out of the way The father-of-two, a professor of paediatrics and genetics at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, said he uses the sequence of pictures when teaching his students. He said: ‘What is most important is to know what we can conclude and what conclusion might be consistent with but not proved by our results. ‘I show the first image and almost everyone who sees it assumes the duck is to be eaten – that conclusion is consistent with what we see. ‘But if you look at the next frame, he is moving the duck away so our first conclusion although consistent was not the correct one.’ In a flap: The Shoebill then drops the startled duck to the ground, minus a few feathers, and carries on its way Shoebills live in large swamps in eastern Africa and can grow to more than 5ft tall and can have a wingspan of up to 10ft. The species was only discovered in the 19th century when some of the birds’ skins were brought to Europe. Shoebills feed in muddy waters, preying on fish, frogs, reptiles such as baby crocodiles, insects and small mammals. The species is classified as ‘threatened’ and the population is estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000.