Our recent foretaste of spring, albeit tantalisingly brief, was enough to stimulate a marked response among flora and fauna and also lift our spirits as temperatures rose.

Daffodils, crocus and snowdrops opened up fully. Newts began returning to ponds and frogs were very active. A problem arises if frost or ice return as any frogspawn laid may not survive.

Birdsong really escalated. One evening at dusk I heard six blackbirds singing along a hundred metre stretch of gardens, a most unusual occurrence as the birds are very territorial.

Skylarks sang and during a walk in Richmond Park I was delighted to watch three pairs of smart reed buntings performing display flights above the bracken, males rising several metres into the air then dropping to perch at the apex of a bracken frond.

Red deer, mostly lacking in antlers now apart from young stags and well camouflaged in drab winter coats browsed quietly.

Herons stood on bulky nests and a stiff breeze whipped up waves to mini white horses on Pen ponds as the temperature began falling, buffeting scores of mallard, coots and gulls facing into the wind, a prelude to the forthcoming storm.

An old country name for last month was 'February- fill- dyke' alluding to the fact that heavy rainfall normally took place in times past.

Then disruptive 'Doris' roared in unleashing her gale-force winds.

I watched crows and jackdaws in flight being tossed around like black plastic sacks while gulls struggled to maintain an even keel. Small birds wisely hid!

But spring will win through... eventually.