Some unhappy boffins worked out that last Monday was the most depressing day of the year. I wonder if anyone has worked out the happiest? Anyway, by definition, there is everything to look forward to. The snow has gone. The daffodils and tulips are poking their heads out of the grass. On the warmer days, yellow aconite flowers shine out like beacons between their ruff of green leaves, and the snowdrops are waiting their turn just around the corner.

The birds are singing and grabbing territory one robin in particular has claimed the prime spot in the orchard near the bird feeders and spends an exhausting day chasing off his kin. The gamekeeper told me that he had seen a sparrow-hawk starting to build a nest the raptors are one of the few avian beneficiaries of a prolonged freeze, with their prey weak and often grouped together in the woods or around bird feeders.

At night, the chilling screams of vixens can be heard. It’s mating time. Dog foxes travel large distances to find a female, which, in the past, has led to the longest hunts in history as the male, when found by the hounds, flees back to his home patch. It may still be winter, but we are moving inexorably towards spring.

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