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Copinsay Island, Scotland, UK

Copinsay Island is one of the Scottish Orkney Islands, situated off the east coast of the Orkney Mainland. After the last residents left Copinsay Island in 1958, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds purchased the island in 1972, as a reserve in memory of the renowned naturalist James Fisher. The island reserve consists of the main island of Copinsay and the four smaller islets of Corn Holm, Ward Holm, Black Holm and the Horse of Copinsay. The historic Copinsay Lighthouse sits atop 250’ (76 m) high cliffs that extend for a mile along the coast.


The islands’ vast seabird colonies include guillemots, kittiwakes, Atlantic puffins and razorbills. More than 1,000 pairs of fulmars nest on Copinsay, while every autumn, a colony of 2,000 grey seals comes ashore to pup. Grey seals are found on both sides of the Atlantic. Their Latin name, Halichoerus grypus, means ‘hooked-nosed sea pig’.