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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
McConnell savours eagle sighting
White-tailed sea eagle targeted by another bird in Wester Ross
A white-tailed sea eagle is targeted by another bird near Loch Broom
First Minister Jack McConnell has enjoyed a sighting of one of the UK's rarest breeding birds - the white-tailed sea eagle.

He got his first view of the large raptor from a bird hide during a family holiday to Mull.

White-tailed sea eagles were reintroduced to Scotland after being wiped out in the 19th Century.

As well as Mull, they have been seen on the Western Isles, Isle of Skye and over Wester Ross, including Loch Broom.

After his visit to the hide run by RSPB Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland, Mr McConnell described the birds as an asset to Scotland.

A recent report said the birds contributed up to 1.7m-a-year to Mull's economy through visits from enthusiasts.

The island's project involves volunteers, police, Mull and Iona Community Trust and has benefited from funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is now in its 21st anniversary year.

The first young sea eagle chick fledged in 1985, after the Scottish Natural Heritage supported reintroduction began just a few years before.

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