DEESIDE has two new sea eagle chicks, the species' first recorded hatchings in the area for around 200 years.

The news has been welcomed by conservationists as a success story for the east of the country, as most breeding pairs of sea eagles choose to settle on the west coast of Scotland.

The young fledglings were born on Mar Estate, which is one of six estates in the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership (ECMP).

Sea eagles are thought not to have bred in this part of the Cairngorms since the early 1800s, but were reintroduced to the west coast in 1975, using Norwegian birds. As a result, there are now five territorial pairs in the Cairngorms National Park, but this is their first successful breeding attempt.

Further reintroductions in Wester Ross and Fife have resulted in the national population gradually expanding to around 130 pairs, with the pairs in the Cairngorms tending to be a mix of birds from the east and west.

A proprietor of Mar Estate, Mark Nicolson, said “We are delighted to have successful breeding of sea eagles on the estate. Sea eagles have been present for several years, mainly providing spectacular aerial battles with our long resident golden eagles," he continued. "Our hopes that they might settle and breed have been realised, and we look forward to their return next year. After some local input, we have named the young fledglings Victoria and Albert.”

NTS Ecologist for neighbouring Mar Lodge Estate and raptor worker, Shaila Rao, said: “I have been lucky enough to watch these birds nesting all through the season. It is fantastic to have sea eagles back in the area as part of the raptor assemblage and hopefully they will return in the coming years."

RSPB senior conservation officer, Claire Smith, added: “Despite their name, sea eagles are generalist birds that would once have been found breeding across Scotland. It is great to see the population increasing across the Park and we hope that a reduction in persecution will allow this to continue as there is a lots of suitable habitat for the birds to inhabit.”

CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Grant Moir, claimed that persecution was partly to blame for the slower colonisation of sea eagles in the east of the country: “Raptor conservation is a key element of the work of the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership.

The partnership is a collaboration between six sporting estates and the CNPA which was established in 2015 to take forward sustainable moorland management, including improving conservation status of raptors.

Mr Moir continued: "Around 50 pairs of moorland raptors (golden eagles, peregrines, hen harriers and merlins) breed in the ECMP area. We are keen to see more raptors in the area so this news of the successful sea eagle breeding attempt is very welcome.”