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Location United Kingdom, Scotland
Central coordinates 1o 37.65' West  59o 31.96' North
IBA criteria A4ii, A4iii, B1ii, B2, B3, C3, C4, C6
Area 559 ha
Altitude 0 - 217m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description An island of Old Red Sandstone situated halfway between the Shetland mainland and Orkney, which has been home to a bird observatory since 1947. Maritime grassland occurs around the coasts. The island supports large colonies of breeding seabirds and waterbirds, and is also important as a stop-over site for migrating birds.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis breeding  2001  663 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea breeding  2001  1,254 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Great Skua Catharacta skua breeding  2001  143 breeding pairs  good  A4ii, B1ii, B3, C3  Least Concern 
Common Murre Uria aalge breeding  1999  39,257 individuals  good  B1ii, C3  Least Concern 
Razorbill Alca torda breeding  2000  3,599 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica breeding  2000  40,000 breeding pairs  good  B1ii, B2, C3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1999-2001  90,576 breeding pairs  good  A4iii, C4   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1999-2001  10,210 breeding pairs  good  A4iii, C4   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Fair Isle Birds Directive 561 is identical to site 559  
Fair Isle Habitats Directive 561 is identical to site 559  
Fair Isle Site of Special Scientific Interest 592 is identical to site 559  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Heathland  -
Grassland   -
Coastline Sea cliffs and rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Fair Isle. Downloaded from on 22/10/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife