An old country name for the second month of the year was February-fill-dyke, alluding to the fact that rainfall then would top up the countryside for farmers.

This year, courtesy of a more powerful than usual Jetstream, February certainly lived up to its title with torrential downpours and extreme flooding countrywide. However, spring's awakening is just over the horizon. Despite the recent weather, flowering in spectacular fashion have been ornamental winter cherry trees with a range of delicate pinks and white, so good to see on dull rainy days. But sadly, the blossom has been rather transient, whirled away in constant high winds. With the arrival of March I always look forward to the flowering of goat willow, better known as 'pussy' willow (pictured) with its golden male catkins adorning the trees and eagerly sought after by early bees out of hibernation. Often grey squirrels may spend hours sitting in the upper branches feasting on the catkins. Female catkins are less spectacular and grow on separate trees, but the male catkins are often gathered to decorate churches on Palm Sunday.

Yellow mahonia flowers are also a magnet for bumble bees Blackbirds are singing full songs and dunnocks voice their brief 'songs' and it always seems to me that the little bird is embarrassed with his performance and wishes to complete it as quickly as possible! I have also heard more song thrushes this year which is most encouraging given their steadily declining population.

Frogs are spawning and a pair of bluetits are busy nesting in a neighbour's garden. So, come on spring!