The month of January was among one of the mildest on record and although winter has some way to go yet, already harbingers of spring are all around us.

Hazel catkins twitch in the breeze like new born lambs tails. Snowdrops have been flowering for a while now and crocus, daffodils and lawn daisies are in bloom.

After Christmas I always buy bunches of daffodils to brighten up the place when decorations have ben taken down and consigned to the loft for another year. Dandelions are blooming. Often classed as troublesome 'weeds' they are actually a vital source of nectar for bees and early insects out of hibernation.

Horse chestnut 'sticky buds' glisten in the sun ; some blossom shows on trees and it won't be long before those tightly furled buds open.

Some adult black headed gulls are acquiring their summer plumage of chocolate brown heads; mallard are pairing up and swans display to one another. Birdsong is becoming stronger and more positive , woodpeckers are drumming while blackbirds chase rivals in territorial skirmishes. One dark rainy early evening my local blackbird suddenly burst into song, perched on a chimney pot. His vocalisation was the most melodious and varied of any blackbird I've heard before so I look forward to more of the same as spring progresses. I also know of one songthrush that has been singing beautifully since Christmas.

If the weather in February remains on the mild side then perhaps on some sunny morning we may welcome our first yellow brimstone butterfly of the year. (pictured). Such an event would really make my month.