So, the shortest day is already behind us and although there is plenty of winter still in store, I eagerly and perhaps impatiently await the first spring flowers and early birdsong, triggered by an increase in daylight hours.

Snowdrops will appear before we know it as the initial heralds of spring with coltsfoot; lesser celandine. lawn daisies; crocus and dandelions waiting in the wings and already, daffodil bulbs are peeping above the soil.

Nobody is really certain about the origin of snowdrops or whether or not they are native or introductions from centuries ago.

Some birds begin nesting early. Rooks and crows are busy inspecting and repairing last year's nests while herons will follow shortly. Parakeets take over nest holes in trees in December, thus preventing native species entry.

In early January blackbirds may begin testing their tonsils with short muted phrases before bursting into song by February. Songthrushes and mistlethrushes should follow but sadly both are in steep decline. Great spotted woodpeckers will begin drumming on hollow trees advertising territories and hopefully attracting mates.

All this of course depends on the weather in January and February so we will see.