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Location United Kingdom, Scotland
Central coordinates 0o 53.35' West  60o 48.99' North
IBA criteria A4ii, A4iii, B1ii, B2, C3, C4
Area 3,086 ha
Altitude 0 - 280m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description The IBA is situated at the most northern tip of Britain, and comprises heathland, small nutrient-poor lochans and burns, and sea cliffs. Closely grazed species-rich maritime grassland occurs on the cliff-tops, with blanket bog and acid grassland vegetation communities also present. The site is important for breeding seabirds, divers, skuas and waders.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus breeding  1999  16,386 breeding pairs  good  A4ii, B1ii, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Great Skua Catharacta skua breeding  2001  1,074 breeding pairs  poor  A4ii, B1ii, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica breeding  2002  27,949 breeding pairs  good  B1ii, B2, C3  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1999-2002  66,832 breeding pairs  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

2007 very high unfavourable low
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high

Morus bassanus Northern Gannet 12000 16386 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Catharacta skua Great Skua 1220 1074 breeding pairs 89 near favourable
Cepphus grylle Black Guillemot 380 243 individuals 64 unfavourable
Fratercula arctica Atlantic Puffin 19100 27949 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Species group - seabirds A4iii 70610 66832 breeding pairs 95 favourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  Unknown  Unknown  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Hermaness National Nature Reserve 964 protected area contained by site 964  
Hermaness Site of Special Scientific Interest 980 protected area contained by site 980  
Valla Field Site of Special Scientific Interest 624 protected area contained by site 624  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Heathland  -
Grassland Humid grasslands  -
Wetlands (inland) Blanket bogs  -
Coastline Sea cliffs and rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 100%

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Hermaness, Saxa Vord and Valla Field. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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