MORE than one-quarter of seabird nests on a west coast island contain plastic, according to research which reveals new pollution insights.

The prevalence of contamination varied between species on Lady Isle in the Firth of Clyde, with the non-natural material in 35% of herring gull nests and 80% of those made by shags.

Glasgow University-led research looked at the make-up of almost 1600 nests on the island, which is not inhabited by humans, in May 2018.

The findings have now been published and it’s thought that the rubbish is picked up by the birds after being washed in on marine currents. Ecologists had suggested that some might have been brought back by birds foraging on the mainland.

Most of the plastic found was consumer waste that had been thrown away in built-up areas.

It is thought that shags had more of the material in their nests because, unlike other species that make new homes each year, they re-use the same sites and this allows the level of plastic to build up over time.

The work comes while seabird populations are in global decline and the debris could potentially affect the quality and properties of the nest, with detrimental effects for the eggs and chicks.