During the recent exceptionally cold weather I expected to see my garden bird feeders extremely busy as natural food is now very scarce.

However, apart from a few visits from goldfinches the other species including the tit family and robins barely appeared which surprises me and I wonder why this is?

Did they discover another food source elsewhere or did they spend more time sheltering in trees and bushes?

Because the smaller the bird the more it suffers especially when roosting at night in sub-zero temperatures like we experienced for several days recently with the lowest temperatures recorded for over twenty years.

Indeed, even parts of the river Thames at Teddington froze over! Then of course St Valentine's day is traditionally the date upon which birds are supposed to choose partners but maybe the bitter cold dull windy day put them off!

However, some species such as mallard have already paired off and many larger birds including swans and members of the crow family mate for life.

This winter is proving to be what I call a 'redwing winter' with large flocks foraging in my area with up to forty birds appearing at any one time.

Probably the extreme cold in Scotland and northern England sent more birds winging their way down south where it is slightly warmer. The photo shows a goldfinch.