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Location United Kingdom, Scotland
Central coordinates 3o 13.75' West  59o 0.90' North
IBA criteria B1i, B2, C3
Area 1,779 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description Run-off from a large part of Orkney's West Mainland enters the sea via these two lochs. The shallow freshwater Loch of Harray becomes brackish at the junction with the Loch of Stenness, which is entirely brackish and classed as a lagoon. The flora and fauna therefore consists of brackish, marine and freshwater species. The lochs support large numbers of wintering wildfowl. Anser anser are from the Icelandic breeding population.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  2001-2006  2,296 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila passage  2001-2006  173 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila winter  2001-2006  451 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - small dams happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Anser anser Greylag Goose 2050 2296 individuals 100 favourable
Cygnus cygnus Whooper Swan 215 12 individuals 6 very unfavourable
Aythya marila Greater Scaup 315 451 individuals 100 favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  Unknown  Not assessed  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lochs Of Harray and Stenness Site of Special Scientific Interest 1,930 protected area contains site 1,779  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish and salt water; Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture 100%
water management 100%

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lochs of Harray and Stenness. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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