SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Fair Isle

image: SPA location map 


Fair Isle is located in the North Sea, halfway between the Shetland mainland and the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland. It is partly composed of Old Red Sandstone that has weathered to produce a greatly indented coastline with many geos, stacks and crags. The island is of major importance as a breeding area for seabirds, including skuas, terns, gulls and auks. It is also notable for its endemic race of Wren Troglodytes troglodytes fridariensis. The seabirds nest both on the cliffs and crags around the island as well as on moorland and maritime grassland areas, and feed in the waters around the island, outside the SPA. The SPA includes the entire coastline of the island together with an extensive area of moorland and grassland in the north of the island. 

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;
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea, 1,120 pairs representing at least 2.5% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean, 1993-1997)
Fair Isle Wren Troglodytes troglodytes fridariensis, 37 individuals representing 100.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count, as at 1997)
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, 25,165 pairs representing at least 1.1% of the breeding East Atlantic population (Count as at 1994)
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 180,000 individual seabirds including: Puffin Fratercula arctica, Razorbill Alca torda, Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Great Skua Catharacta skua, Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus, Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Gannet Morus bassanus, Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis, Guillemot Uria aalge, Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea.



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.