SPA description
(information as published 2001)

North Caithness Cliffs

image: SPA location map 


The North Caithness Cliffs SPA is located on the north coast of Caithness in northern Scotland. The site comprises most of the sea-cliff areas between Red Point and Duncansby Head on the north mainland coast, and the western cliffs on the island of Stroma. The cliffs are formed from Old Red Sandstone and are generally between 30-60 m high, rising to 120 m at Dunnet Head. Cliff ledges, stacks and geos provide ideal nesting sites for important populations of seabirds, especially gulls and auks. The seabirds nesting on the North Caithness Cliffs feed outside the SPA in the surrounding waters of the Pentland Firth, as well as further afield. The cliffs also provide important nesting habitat for Peregrine Falco peregrinus.


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section

This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
During the breeding season;
Peregrine Falco peregrinus, 6 pairs representing at least 0.5% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Mid-1990s)
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
During the breeding season;
Guillemot Uria aalge, 26,994 pairs representing at least 1.2% of the breeding East Atlantic population (Count as at 1987)
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 110,000 individual seabirds including: Puffin Fratercula arctica, Razorbill Alca torda, Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis, Guillemot Uria aalge.



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.