Two snowy owls have been seen together in the UK for the first time in more than 30 years, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
One of the two owls. Picture by Martin Scott, RSPB Scotland
However, the birds were thought to be male which threatens to dash initial hopes they might be a breeding pair.
They have been seen at Galson near Barvas Moor on the Isle of Lewis on the Western Isles.
RSPB Scotland said the last snowy owls to breed in the UK was a pair on Shetland in 1975.
Single birds have been seen in Scotland since then, but this was the first pair to be spotted.
Martin Scott, RSPB Scotland's conservation officer on the Western Isles, said it was a "cruel irony" that the birds appear to be males.
He added: "Although we can't be certain, it could be the case that both of these birds have arrived from North America, probably due to huge recent snow falls that may have prevented them being able to find enough suitable prey species."
RSPB Scotland said that in their traditional habitat snowy owls feed on lemmings, but switch to catching rabbits when they arrive in Britain.