YOUNG sea eagles have taken to the skies above Orkney for the first time in 150 years, the RSPB says.

Two of the protected species, also known as white-tailed eagles, hatched in Hoy in May and have now left the nest.

Volunteers for the conservation charity made the discovery and oneof those, Katharine Stark, said: “It was magnificent to see the eagles soaring through the sky, especially knowing how long it has been since the last time.

“We spoke to lots of locals and tourists throughout the day and everyone was thrilled. There has been a nervous excitement in the air since the chicks hatched but now we can all breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate.”

It is not known if the massive birds of prey, which grow to have a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres, are the product of the formal reintroduction of the species to Scotland.

This began on Rum in 1975 before hitting Wester Ross in 1993 and the east coast of the country in 2007.

Although sea eagles have bred successfully and broadened their range, they were not present in Orkney until 2013, when an adult pair arrived. Experts are unsure whether this duo flew in from the mainland or from Scandinavia.

They abandoned the territory in 2017, but the female returned this year with a new, younger male.

Ian McNab of RSPB Scotland said: “Both chicks are looking strong.

“It’s quite common for birds of prey to stay within the territory for a while after they have fledged, so hopefully we will be able to enjoy watching them for some time yet.”