As a cold dreary January draws to a close, sure signs of spring, subtle perhaps at first are beginning to appear to cheer us up.

Evenings are becoming lighter and hopefully before long we can return to the sunny uplands of normal life after enduring months of lockdown darkness.

Bunches of daffodils are in the shops and their golden blooms brighten our homes after Christmas decorations have been consigned to the loft.

Daffodils are also flowering in parks and on commons and very soon snowdrops (pictured) will follow.

Birds are resplendent in new plumage and pairings have already taken place among mallard, swans and assorted species while herons and parakeets are early nesters.

The recent cold weather has brought a welcome increase in redwings among the berries.

Opposite my house is a very tall tree, the highest in the area in fact and about a dozen redwings congregate and perch in the upper branches where they survey gardens below and about every ten minutes or so zoom down to feed, calling 'seep-seep' to one another, mainly on sunny mornings.

About fifty goldfinches also perch among the redwings and they too periodically swoop down en masse to light on my sunflower heart feeders.

Both species are so colourful and certainly brighten up my day.

I still await my first blackbird song but they still seem to be quite scarce at present for some unknown reason.