Regular readers of this column will know just how much birdsong means to me.

As we approach spring, a few species are tentatively testing their tonsils in preparation for the big dawn and evening chorus singalong.

A distant songthrush begins his recital promptly at 7am most mornings and a local mistlethrush occasionally sings at dawn and dusk. Dunnocks perform their brief scratchy 'song'; robins have been singing since last autumn but I,ve yet to hear a blackbird. However, the prolonged cold weather has muted their efforts somewhat.

Of course, not all birds sing and notable among them are our three woodpeckers.

The green woodpecker emits a staccato cackling laugh called a 'yaffle' , rarely drums and can be seen mostly probing anthills, especially in summer.

The great spotted woodpecker (pictured) utters a sharp 'pick-pick' call usually from the summit of a tree. He is now beginning his rapid drumming, quite a feature of spring as he selects a hollow branch or trunk where the sound resonates far and wide to proclaim his territory and advertise for mates.

His smaller cousin, the lesser spotted woodpecker is only sparrow sized but can also be heard softly drumming. However, the bird is very scarce although with luck he can sometimes be seen in Bushy and Morden Hall parks.

By the end of this month or in early March, most species should be in full song and it is worth rising at daybreak to experience and appreciate the magic of a full chorus.