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Sea eagle chicks land in east Scotland

27 June 10 00:40
Sea eagle

A batch of white tailed eagle chicks have arrived in Edinburgh as part of an initiative to reintroduce the species to the east of the country.

The 19 chicks were welcomed at Edinburgh Airport by Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham.

They will stay at purpose-built aviaries at a secret location in Fife until they have developed their flight feathers.

The eagles are known as "flying barn doors" due to their 8ft wing span.

The five-week-old chicks arrived in Edinburgh on Friday from Norway.

Ms Cunningham said: "The white tailed sea eagle was lost to Scotland in the past and we have a duty to re-establish its presence here.

"The East of Scotland project is building on what has already been achieved in the west for this amazing species, where it has become a huge tourist attraction.

"All of this is of course about protecting and restoring our biodiversity; something that is everyone's responsibility and to everyone's benefit."

The project comes after successful reintroductions in the west of Scotland since the 1970s.

Claire Smith, RSPB Scotland's sea eagle project officer, said: "Since the project started in 2007 we've had over 2,000 sightings of these wonderful birds.

"Our chicks from 2009 have been spotted across north east Scotland, as well as Fife, Angus, and Tayside, while earlier this year, much to the delighted of visitors to our Vane Farm nature reserve, three sea eagles spent three months roosting on islands on Loch Leven.

"We're also thrilled to learn our populations are starting to mix, not only with birds in the west of Scotland, but also those who are part of the Irish reintroduction."

Britain's largest bird of prey disappeared from the UK in Victorian times as a result of human persecution.

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