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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 00:24 GMT
East coast eagle spotted on Mull
Sea eagle
The sea eagle was one of 15 chicks released last summer
Conservationists have welcomed the sighting of a sea eagle on Mull as a major boost for the species.

The white tailed eagle, known as "Bird F", was one of 15 chicks released in Fife last summer as part of the East Scotland Sea Eagle project (ESSE).

It was hoped the birds would eventually mix with the west coast sea eagles and set up territories around Scotland.

RSPB Scotland said it was "fantastic news" that the eagles were mingling already.

Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland's Mull officer, spotted Bird F.

He said: "I saw this young sea eagle flying into roost at Loch Frisa with two other young wing-tagged eagles for company.

"I knew the other two were wild-bred chicks from the west coast but I thought I spotted a radio aerial on the back of the third bird and my heart skipped a beat."

Final phase

The team on Mull called the RSPB Scotland's ESSE project officer, who travelled to the island with radio tracking equipment and confirmed the sea eagle was Bird F.

Mr Sexton said: "This is fantastic news.

"The fact that the eastern and western birds are already mingling bodes well for the future of the species, which was extinct in the UK due to human persecution by 1918 despite once being widespread all over the country."

Family with radio tracking equipment
Bird F was located with the aid of radio tracking equipment

The introduction of chicks from Norway to the east coast was part of the final phase of a programme to firmly establish a population of sea eagles right across Scotland.

Up to 20 young birds from Norway will be released each year for the next four years.

The reintroduction programme began on the island of Rum from 1975 to 1983 and then on to Wester Ross from 1993 to 1998.

Last year breeding pairs have been established on territories as far south as the Argyll islands and west on to the mainland in the Highland district of Lochaber.

Bird F was the first chick to be collected from Norway and to be released from the holding cages in August 2007. He has spent most his time since release near St Fergus eating rabbits and geese.

He has an unusual and distinctive feature, with two white talons on one foot.

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19 Nov 07 |  Scotland

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