'Spring will be a little late this year'. So runs the first line of a classic nineteen-fifties song performed by the great American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan.

Those words are just as relevant today as we experience a rare 'beast from the east' bringing bitter winds and snow from Siberia, in other words from Russia without the love!!

The weather certainly is exceptional as we have become used to milder winters and it is something of a shock to the system.

The bitter cold can cause problems with our smaller birds that lose heat rapidly especially at night when roosting. My feeders are much busier than usual as the birds repeatedly return to stock up with seeds. Blackbirds; stock  doves; dunnocks and wood pigeons patrol below to pick up the pieces.

My local blackbird has risked entering my porch where there is a container of Christmas berry plants, the large orange berries of which have been stripped in two days, something I've never seen before.

Our winter visiting redwings have also stripped pyracantha, holly and cotoneaster so rely on feeding on short grass but if under snow or frozen ground, then difficulties arise.

Water birds including herons diving ducks and kingfishers (pictured), and indeed every species must rely on running water as ponds are iced over. Fish  become semi-torpid and lurk in deep holes.

Daffodils blooming splendidly lately are wilting in freezing conditions so we must accept the fact that spring will certainly be a little late this year.