A LACK of shelter at Aubery Pond resulted in a almost a whole family of cygnets being killed by seagulls.

Wildlife volunteers came to the rescue of the last surviving baby after it became stuck in the nearby pond and couldn't get out.

The swans and cygnets had become a popular attraction, with many photographs of the cute young sea birds appearing on social media and in the pages of the News.

However, for the third year running, there was alarm as the cygnets disappeared one by one.

Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre say that they managed to save the last remaining bird after a call from the member of the public.

There have now been calls for Hessilhead to come to the rescue of the cygnets and take them away to safety as soon as they are born.

Andy Christie, who runs the wildlife hospital near Lochwinnoch, confirmed to the News that the young cygnet is safely in one of their pools and will be released back to Largs bay to be reunited with his parents once it is big enough to cope with the threat posed by the gulls.

Andy said: "Unfortunately the cygnets are picked off by the big black backed gulls.

"We have been asked in the past to rescue the cygnets after the gulls got three, and there were left, a couple of years ago. We had the mother as well that year.

"There was a lot of adverse comment and we were told that nature should take its course, but this year there was only one cygnet left in the pond and couldn't get out and we headed down to assist.

"We can raise the cygnet in one of our ponds and will return it to Largs once it is big enough to cope with the seagulls."

Andy explained that one of the problems with the location of Aubery was that it was too open.

He said: "Other areas such as Lamlash Bay in Arran is better sheltered, with more vegetation."

The last cygnet at Hessilhead will be fed a mix of good grass as well a duck pellets.

Andy added: "We have quite a number of enclosures with ponds so there is no intermingling.

"Unfortunately the reality is if we had not come when we were called, this chick would not have lasted either."

The rescue centre is a charity that needs around £100,000 a year to keep running and was set up by Andy and wife Gay in 1986.

Anyone who wants to become a member or to make a donation can write to the Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust at Gateside, Beith, Ayrshire, or call 01505 502415.

Pic: Francesca Pearce/Largs Camera Club