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?…
Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns
Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’
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