LOVE is in the air for Eddie the white-tailed sea eagle and his new bird Edwina.
The water-loving pair have just been spotted at secret locations along the Kerry coast.
Hopes are now flying high that the birds, pictured exclusively in today's Irish Independent, may soon breed the first Irish-born white-tailed sea eagles.
The pair finally mated after being reintroduced into Ireland in 2007 after a gap of 110 years. Sea eagles, like their golden cousins, usually mate for life.
Dr Allan Mee, the Irish White-Tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project manager, said yesterday two sets of birds had paired up at two sites on the Kerry coast.
The precise locations are not being disclosed to protect the eagles because the big danger they face is illegal poisoning.
"Given that these are three or four years old and birds reach maturity at five years of age it is likely that the first breeding attempts will be in 2012," Dr Mee added.
A total of 77 white-tailed eagles were released between 2007-2010, with another set of releases planned during this year.
Fifteen birds have been found dead since 2007. Nine birds were poisoned: one in 2007; three in 2008; one in 2009; and four in 2010.
The spate of poisonings led to condemnation from the Norwegian ambassador to Ireland, Oyvind Nordsletten, whose country had sent the eagles here as a gift.
The act of poison being planted on lamb carcasses to control crows, magpies or foxes is now illegal because of its deadly effect on the protected birds of prey.
Under the Wildlife Acts, anyone convicted of killing the birds face fines of up to €5,000 or 12 months' jail.