Red kites reintroduced into Cumbria "doing well"
Red kites reintroduced into the Lake District after a gap of 160 years are "doing very well" three months on.
Thirty of the birds were released into Grizedale Forest in August.
One was later found shot, but the others are now fending for themselves after supplementary feeding ended, and have dispersed around the area.
Wildlife rangers are optimistic they will survive the winter and return to the release site, which they believe to be their birthplace, to breed.
Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger in charge of the red kite reintroduction project, said: "They are doing very well.
"They hung around the release site for the first few weeks until they got to know the area and found alternative food sources.
"We gradually stopped supplementary feeding and they started coming back less."
He said that information from the radio trackers which some had been fitted with, and sightings from members of the public, showed that they had moved to the south and west of the release area.
"Winter will take its toll for sure," he said.
"But we're expecting they will not do too badly.
"Some will probably do a small southerly migration, locate other kite populations around the country, hang around with them for a few weeks, and eventually drift back north to Cumbria, probably around spring time."
Red kites almost became extinct from England between the 16th and 19th Centuries because they were over-hunted and lost their habitats.
The Grizedale programme is the ninth reintroduction of red kites into different regions of the UK, and the final reintroduction phase in England.