Secret release of 19 sea eagles in Scotland

image captionThe birds have been fed on a diet of pike, haddock and roe deer

Nineteen white-tailed sea eagles have been released into the wild from a secret location in Fife.

The birds of prey, the UK's largest, arrived from Norway in June for the fourth year of the East Scotland Sea Eagle reintroduction project

It is a partnership scheme between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Since their arrival, the birds have been reared in specially built aviaries.

They will now join Scotland's growing white-tailed eagle population and help restore this species to their former range in the east of Scotland.

This project is also contributing to wider conservation efforts across Europe for sea eagles.

The birds were driven to extinction in the UK by game preservers and collectors in the Victorian era, with the last individual bird killed in 1916.

They only returned to the UK following a successful reintroduction to the West of Scotland, on the Island of Rum in 1975.

Impressive bird

Claire Smith, RSPB Scotland east coast sea eagle project officer, said: "A diet of pike, haddock and roe deer has helped make sure these birds are fit and ready for life in the wild. Each bird has been fitted with a radio and wing tags so both project staff and the public can follow their progress.

"Already we receive many calls from the public thrilled to have seen a sea eagle on the east coast."

Susan Davies, director of policy at Scottish National Heritage, added: "These new recruits will help ensure that this impressive bird's future, as an important part of Scotland's biodiversity, is secured."

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