SPA description
(information as published 2001)


image: SPA location map 


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. 


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section

 Assemblage qualification: A seabird assemblage of international importance


The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 seabirds
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 access.
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.