Channel Five are coming to Largs today to carry out a survey on whether staring at seagulls helps put them off for longer from stealing food from people's hands.

They will be visiting The Fish Works takeaway on Largs Promenade to find out some of the methods they use to move the gulls along including their kite hawk. Billy Irvin is pictured with the deterrent below.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

University of Exeter researchers put a bag of chips on the ground and tested how long it took herring gulls to approach when someone was watching them.

They compared this to how long it took when the person looked away.

On average the gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach the food they often cheekily swipe from unsuspecting snackers while they were being stared at.

The researchers attempted to test 74 gulls, but most flew away or would not approach.

Only 27 approached the food, and 19 completed both the “looking at” and “looking away” tests. The findings focus on these 19 gulls.

Lead author Madeleine Goumas, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter’s Penryn Campus, said: “Gulls are often seen as aggressive and willing to take food from humans, so it was interesting to find that most wouldn’t even come near during our tests.

“Of those that did approach, most took longer when they were being watched.

“Some wouldn’t even touch the food at all, although others didn’t seem to notice that a human was staring at them.”

It is not known why individual birds were so different, but it may have been because some might have had positive experiences of being fed by humans.

“But it seems that a couple of very bold gulls might ruin the reputation of the rest,” she said.

It seems that just watching the gulls will reduce the chance of them snatching your food.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Senior author Dr Neeltje Boogert added: “Gulls learn really quickly, so if they manage to get food from humans once, they might look for more.

“Our study took place in coastal towns in Cornwall, and especially now, during the summer holidays and beach barbecues, we are seeing more gulls looking for an easy meal.

“We therefore advise people to look around themselves and watch out for gulls approaching, as they often appear to take food from behind, catching people by surprise.

“It seems that just watching the gulls will reduce the chance of them snatching your food.”

Tiffany Irvin, co-owner of the Fish Works, said: "We have Chanel 5 news coming down to film us today based on this survey, and my husband Ross is going to test it out versus the hawk.

"It will be interesting to see the results!"