(information as published 2001)
Copinsay lies 4 km off the east coast of Orkney mainland in
northern Scotland. It consists of the island of Copinsay and three
islets (Corn Holm, Ward Holm and Black Holm). The three holms are
vegetated and a storm beach connects them to Copinsay at low water.
The islands have good examples of unimproved sub-maritime
grasslands and coastal inundation grasslands with a number of
distinct vegetation zones. Copinsay is formed of Old Red Sandstone
with the largely horizontal bedding planes providing ideal breeding
ledges for seabirds (auks and Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla),
especially on the sheer cliffs of the south-east of Copinsay which
reach to over 60 m. The seabirds feed outside the SPA in the nearby
waters, as well as more distantly.
For individual species accounts visit the Species
qualification: A seabird assemblage of international
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the
Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000
During the breeding season, the area regularly supports 70,000
individual seabirds including: Guillemot Uria aalge,
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Great Black-backed Gull
Larus marinus, Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis.
Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of
a site in these pages does not imply any right of public
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of
their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also
provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other
times of the year.