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Manchester peregrines return to the city, follow their progress live via webcam …


Sometimes it is hard to connect with nature when you are busy grinding away at the work coalface. However, the internet can prove a handy conduit to deliver a helping of nature live onto your desktop.

Using the BBC Manchester Big Screen website over the past few weeks I’ve been checking in with the Manchester peregrines who have their own webcam and nestbox perched high above the city.

It is a sign of the times, but if a high mountain cannot be found, then it seems a fairly tall building will act as a decent alternative for the peregrine falcon, one of our most noble birds of prey. 2009 is the third year this pair of peregrines have returned to Manchester to rear their family and once again it seems they are doing a grand job. Four chicks successfully hatched at the end of April and over the weeks I have watched them evolve from fluffy white balls to beautiful strong young hawks.

I had a minor panic on 20th May when the whole nest area was completely empty, but thankfully an explanation was posted up onto the BBC peregrine diary site explaining that the birds had simply gone on a walkabout! I think this illustrates the fact that the chicks are now itching to fly the nest and may fledge any day now. It has been really wonderful watching the progress of the chicks and heart-warming to see them being looked after so well by the adult birds, despite some very damp weather in the early days.

The young have been ringed by the RSPB, so hopefully we can see how far they roam to find their own partners and new territory. So, if you are out and about enjoying the sun in Manchester city centre this weekend, look up in the sky and tune your ears in for any unusual shrieks and whistles, as it could be the youngsters attempting their first airborn cruise. I believe the RSPB has a telescope set up outside the Triangle at weekends allowing a terrific view of the adult birds who are often found perched on the ‘A’ of the Arndale sign.

the chicks on walkabout ...

the chicks on walkabout ...

Other good live webcams I have found are;
a goshawk family in the New Forest (complete with live sound)


and the Loch Garten Ospreys, an absolutely stunning location right ontop of a swaying tree!


Both of these nests have chicks and should certainly help top up the battery til the next episode of Springwatch.

UPDATE. On the Manchester peregrine’s. The first chick fledged on Tuesday 2nd June and a second the day after, two are still on the nest today (Saturday 6th June) and it is pouring with rain so maybe they prefer to stay in the relative dry on their ledge?

• A favoured spot for the newly fledged two is posing on the Manchester Big Wheel … what show-offs! :-)•

• There are some fantastic photo’s of the Manchester birds and chicks on the BBC website taken by © Adrian Dancy.

UPDATE. June 2010. New blog post, why the webcam isn’t working and where the birds have nested in 2010.

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Manchester artist Ben Kelly’s new exhibition “Painting the Blues” @ Manchester City FC Museum …


Award-winning local artist Ben Kelly had a busy time last week.  Sadly, I couldn’t make his Preview Night due to work commitments, but judging by all the feedback and coverage, things went very well indeed.

His exhibition is called “Painting the Blues” and features new work created over the last 12 months.   The aim was to capture the highs and lows of Manchester City Football Club.  Any City fan knows more than most, the world of football is a hugely unpredictable one, where “emotions change from triumph to despair in the space of ninety minutes”.

Even for a club with Manchester City’s history, the last 12 months have been a rollercoaster, yet Ben was given free rein by City to wander wherever he wanted, with unprecedented access to witness activity behind the scenes  aswell as the regular matchday frenzy.  One has to congratulate the club for creating the opportunity for an artist to try and capture the season on canvas and as a huge City fan this was pretty much a dream assignment for Ben.


He is certainly an artist on the rise; having won a massive £15,000 in December 2006 in a competition organised by the Lowry and Umbro called “One Love – The Football Art Prize”.  He beat 800 other artists from all over the country to scoop the prize when his painting “The Final Whistle” was chosen by a panel of judges, one of whom was Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger (in the news this week with his ‘Angel of the South’ White Horse commission).

Next project on the horizon was an exhibition at the prestigious Cheshire gallery Firob & Peacock in Knutsford.   This work showcased some of Ben’s landscape paintings; each piece took the viewer by the hand on a beautiful foray into the woods.  Featuring forests and icy stillness, this exhibition was full of intense atmospherics, Lowry-esque figures almost lost within impossibly elongated trees.  Delicate tints and the occasional dramatic splash of vividity created wonderfully engaging work.

Grab the chance while you can, and see Ben Kelly’s latest work here in Manchester at the City of Manchester Stadium Museum, open now and ending on the 31st March 2009.  All work is for sale, though I understand quite a few were snapped up at the Preview.

Which leads me on to the subject of my next post …. “Where can I buy original Art in Manchester and why should I?”.   Yes indeedee, coming soon … check back on the blog tomorrow (probably!).

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