Three lucky gull chicks were rescued from death after being discovered during the demolition of the former Saltcoats Green Street hostel last week.

It was a case of ‘right place, right time’ for these young birds.

Rather than being destroyed, the chicks were rescued from the demolished rooftop using a cherry-picker and taken to nearby Hessilhead rescue centre, as part of a unique Scottish Government trial into humane pest control taking place in North Ayrshire.

One of them had even fallen and got trapped and was almost certainly doomed if the nest had not been discovered.

Existing pest control methods would have seen the young chicks destroyed as current government licensing permits the destruction of eggs and chicks.

However, wildlife protection expert, Kevin Newell, who runs the award-winning Humane Wildlife Solutions, based in Beith, is behind the trial to show that there are more humane ways of managing urban wildlife.

He said: “I was doing work across Ayrshire last year, and I realised things need to change. The Herring gulls are an endangered species, a lot of people don’t like them and they think there are too many, but in fact, they are in steep decline. As are the lesser black ones, which are the ones we rescued from the Saltcoats site.

“Instead of killing them, we are encouraging pest companies to take the birds to rescue centres and we’ve had such an amazing response. It is going really well.

“There are so many misconceptions about gulls. It takes 4 years for them to breed and nearly 14 years to add a surplus to the population, so it is a long time to wait for just a handful of chicks. And if anybody saw the way the mother’s love when she protected her young when we rescued them from the site, it would have broken your heart. But they are alive and they wouldn’t have been otherwise.”

Alex Thackeray, contract manager for George Beattie & Sons, who managed the demolition of the site, told the Herald: “I think people think demolition companies are only interested in smashing up things, but when we found the eggs we wanted to do things differently.

“We found the trial and it allowed the gulls to be rescued safely, we are now going to use a drone before demolitions so we can establish nests before work begins.”