THIS year's empty coastal resorts could lead to changes in gull behaviour.

With no tourists, and catering facilities closed on the east coast, herring gulls don't have their usual access to fish and chips and scraps dropped by humans on beaches and seaside streets.

They are having to look for other sources of food.

Scientists don't know if this will lead to gulls relying less on fish and chips in future - and therefore fewer gull muggings on the coast.

"It's going to be a really interesting time," said Ana Cowie, marine pollution officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. "It's something we will see once this period is over. It's not been long enough to see the impact yet."

She urged anyone seeing herring gulls to tell the British Trust for Ornithology to help build up a picture of what gulls are doing now.

The trust focuses on understanding birds and how bird populations change.

According to the RSPB, herring gulls can eat offal and insects as well as fish and seafood.

Herring gulls are among the UK's most endangered species and have seen a severe drop in their breeding numbers.