A SEAGULL painted yellow in what was thought to be a pre Tour de France prank has been rescued in Scarborough.

The bird's bright yellow plumage was spotted near the town's lifeboat station, but soon proved not to be a rare migrant but a victim of hooligans.

Concerned holidaymakers alerted Scarborough Sea Life Centre, who sent aquarist Andy Jayes to investigate.

After trapping the unfortunate bird, Andy discovered it was covered in yellow paint.

RSPCA Inspector Geoff Edmunds, who collected what proved – underneath the paint-job – to be a herring gull, speculated it may have been the victim of a prank linked to the Tour de France.

Sea Life's Lia Bull added: “We know there were sheep spray-painted with washable yellow paint to mark the visit of the Tour de France.”

“It’s likely someone thought it was a clever idea to paint a seagull as well.”

Though still able to fly short-distances, the gull would inevitably have died as a result of the damage to its plumage, but is now recuperating at a specialist RSPCA wildlife centre in Cheshire.

“We hear he’s eating hungrily and that the paint is coming off gradually,” said Lia.