Spring? In your dreams!

Having shivered in another icy blast, thoughts of spring are uppermost in my mind.

While temperatures play a part, the key factor to trigger spring's gradual awakening is increasing daylight hours.

A few insects are beginning to stir and seek the first wild flowers such as snowdrops, primroses and coltsfoot .Bees love snowdrops and also take full advantage of colourful displays of primulas in garden centres.

Birdsong increases daily. My local blackbird and robin commence their recitals about six o'clock each morning and at last I'm hearing again my favourite avian vocalist the songthrush, sadly in steep decline but in a few locations, notably Bushey Park, where he valiantly manages to be heard above squadrons of invasive yelping parakeets!

Dunnocks too practice their hurried scratchy songs and it always seems to me that they are rather embarrassed by their efforts and wish to finish as quickly as possible.

Some blackcaps, traditionally one of our spring visitors are spending more winters here and their rich fruity songs are a delight. Chiffchaffs should arrive soon too.

Early nesters include herons while rooks perch in rookeries repairing nests damaged by winter gales, some individuals always ready to 'nick a stick' from neighbours causing much furious cawing if found out.

Foxes are nearing the end of their mating season but their familiar wow-wow-wow calls and eerie banshee screams have been comparatively few this year in my immediate area at least.

I now await my first sighting of a yellow brimstone butterfly, true harbinger of spring.