Within a hundred-yard stretch of road alongside my house four robins have established territories and sing throughout the day, well into dusk and often during the night.

The robin is one of very few species where both male and female sing so we can't tell them apart as both sexes are identical in appearance.

People sometimes think they have heard a nightingale singing but the birds only arrive in Britain from May to breed and return in late summer to Saharan areas.

The famous song recounts how a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square in central London but at the risk of sounding unromantic, I believe the singer was more likely to have been a robin or perhaps a song thrush as the London habitat was wrong.

With the shortest day behind us and as January gets into its stride we should begin to hear more birdsong including song and mistle thrushes, blackbirds, chaffinch, chiff chaff, blackcap skylark and assorted warblers.

Birdsong really lifts my spirits and although I know the songs are basically territorial and mate seeking, we can certainly benefit from the various melodies especially during the famous dawn chorus and just before nightfall.

So, hopefully birdsong will bring us some much needed avian comfort and cheer, thus lightening the gloom at this dark time.