Copinsay SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site lies 4 km off the east coast of Orkney in northern Scotland. It is made up of the island of Copinsay and three islets (Corn Holm, Ward Holm and Black Holm). ¬†Seabirds (auks and kittiwakes) nest here, especially on the sheer cliffs of the south-east of Copinsay.¬†

MPA Type

Special 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 date

1 March 1994

Surface Area

36.10 km2 (13.94 mi.2)


35.38 km (21.98 mi.)

  • 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.

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets

Did you know?…

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’

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 half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns