Copinsay Island, Scotland, UK

Copinsay, together with the seastack called the Horse of Copinsay, and three small islets called horms, comprise a reserve of the Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds. Since 1958 it has been uninhabited, although it still holds the white lighthouse. There was formerly a family in the farmstead that still exists, as well as family homes for the lighthouse keepers. That family would have been responsible for the venerable folktale of the Copinsay Brownie, which someone will doubtless recount for you. In fact, some fields on the island are still plowed and planted, to provide suitable habitat for birds called corncrakes. In summer the steep cliffs and native grasslands of the island are an important breeding ground for thousands of seabirds including fulmars, guillemots, puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes, shags and black-backed gulls. Arctic terns also nest here, as well as eider ducks. Birds’ eggs once formed an important food source for the residents. The island also boasts a large population of grey seals, which come shore in the autumn to give birth.