On a late January afternoon I'm in Bushy Park. Snow is forecast but as yet, the weather is cold cloudy and windless.

The waterways have a thin covering of ice in places thick enough to support the weight of black headed gulls. Heavier mallard however slip-slide as they land and seem perplexed when trying to clamber over ice floes which give way under them.

A pair of Egyptian geese accompany us throughout our walk, honking huskily for bread. Otherwise the scene is peaceful apart from the unwelcome clamour of parakeets. 

Suddenly, with undulating flight and emitting trademark laughing 'yaffle' calls a green woodpecker zooms up into a lofty oak followed by a great spotted woodpecker then most surprisingly a lesser spotted (pictured), the latter resembling his larger cousin but only sparrow-sized and although scarce, the woodland gardens are a stronghold for the species.

So, our three species of woodpecker all in the same tree, tapping the bark for insects. Quite a rare sight.

Moving from the woodland out into the meadow where tussocky grass and anthills are a feature, crows and jackdaws pick over the sward but few other birds are visible and no deer can be seen.

Walking by a solitary oak a bird dives from the tree into the grass metres away and I'm thrilled to see that it is a skylark, his white outer tail feathers prominent. It's so good to see a skylark in winter but he won't begin singing for a month or so. I look forward to that.

It begins to drizzle so into the pheasantry cafe we go for a warming cappucino!