Whilst most birds' nesting activities begin from March through to the end of May, a few species commence very early  in the year.

Notable among these are rooks, crows, herons and parakeets, the latter unfortunately taking over tree holes which would otherwise be used by native species later in spring.

As I enjoyed my annual ice skating session at Hampton Court over the new year I was reflecting on the fact that ice may be fun for us but for herons, kingfishers, diving ducks and other water birds a prolonged cold spell with water bodies frozen over poses major problems. 

The main diet of herons (pictured) is fish but they prey also on water voles, mice, frogs. frogspawn, newts and young birds but if they are unable to fish then they have been known to starve and their young nestlings may also perish.

Kingfishers may fly to the coast  if necessary and feed in rock pools on beaches which do not freeze.

On thick ice swans ducks and coots slither around and become expert skaters themselves as they land and slide to a halt.

Their feet do not freeze to the ice as fortunately they contain a sort of anti-freeze which insulates them But feeding and drinking in such conditions is difficult for them