Parakeets in Manchester?

Q. I have repeatedly seen parakeets in the area I live, Astley, 10 miles west of Manchester. I first spotted them in spring last year, so they have survived over winter. Are they likely to be escaped pets that have taken advantage of a mild winter, or an enterprising bunch of southerners having a go up north?
Mark Anderson

The UK’s Ring-necked Parakeet population seems to have come from several escapes across the country, rather than a single event, and they do seem to be spreading north, especially into urban areas such as Manchester. We think it’s likely that the birds you saw are part of this spread.