This is one of the most southerly of the major islands of the Orkney archipelago in northern Scotland. The site covers the northern and western two-thirds of the island. The cliffs here provide important breeding sites for a number of seabird species, especially gulls and auks, whilst moorland areas support large numbers of breeding birds, in particular great skuas. Red-throated Divers nest here too.
MPA TypeSpecial Protection Area
Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.
Designation date1 December 2000
Surface Area181.36 km2 (70.02 mi.2)
Perimeter117.80 km (73.20 mi.)
Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Puffins are unmistakable and much loved birds. Sometimes referred to as the clown among seabirds they are one of the world’s favourite birds. With half of the UK population at only a few sites it is a Red List species.
Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
Almost gull-like, this grey and white seabird is related to the albatrosses. It flies low over the sea on stiff wings.
Great black-backed gull (Larus marinus)
A very large, stocky, black-backed gull.
Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
A small cliff nesting seabird named for it its nasal “ki-ti-waak”” callnotes. The population is declining in some areas
Seabird assemblage (Seabird assemblage)
Important areas where a number of seabird species occur in significant numbers.
Common guillemot (Uria aalge)
One of the most common birds breeding on sheer, crowded cliffs known as ‘seabird cities’. This seabird only comes to land to breed and spends the rest of its life at sea.
Great skua (Stercorarius skua)
A stout, dark, confident bird - the great skua is described as ‘the pirate of the seas’. It harrasses other birds and kills and eats smaller birds like puffins. It is also known to dive bomb any people who approach nesting sites.
Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
A large and powerful bird of prey which is a swift and agile hunter. Peregrines were at a low point in the 1960s due to human persecution and the impact of pesticides in the food chain but are showing signs of recovery.
Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata)
The smallest of Scotland’s diver species. Typically breeds on inland water bodies in open moorland or blanket bog landscapes. Feeds on a mix of freshwater and marine prey, mainly fish.
Arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)
A medium-sized dark seabird that only comes to shore to breed. It is known to chase other birds to try and steal food and can be aggressive towards intruders that venture near its’ nest.
Did you know?…
An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed
Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas
To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’
The future of fisheries is being decided
The UK government has opened a public consultation asking how we think they should manage our fisheries after Brexit through a new Fisheries Bill.Act now!