A group of young white-tailed eagles has taken to the skies for the first time as part of a reintroduction programme in the east of Scotland.
Four eagles were released from a secret location in Fife on Friday in the latest efforts to restore the UK's largest bird of prey, which was hunted to extinction by the early 20th century, to its former range.
They arrived from Norway in June and were reared in specially built aviaries, being fed grey squirrel, roe deer and haddock, until they could fledge.
The programme to bring back the eagles, which are also known as sea eagles or dubbed "flying barn doors" because of their 8ft wing span, to the east of Scotland, has seen 80 birds released since it began in 2007.
It is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Forestry Commission Scotland.
Today Claire Smith, of RSPB Scotland, said: "It's great to see these birds fit, ready and raring to try out those impressive wings for the first time.
"Each bird has been fitted with a radio and wing tags so both project staff and the public can follow their progress.
"For 2011 we've chosen red wing tags with white letters and numbers, and as usual any sightings can be reported to us via email.
"Every day our older birds are spotted in locations up and down the country and we're hopeful in the next couple of years the east of Scotland could have its first wild bred chick."
Susan Davies, SNH policy and advice director, said: "More and more people in the east of Scotland are starting to spot these spectacular sea eagles in places like Loch Leven and throughout Fife as well as further afield.
"This is a firm sign that the sea eagle is spreading back out into areas of its former range in Scotland."