January to early March. Even though they appear in January and are often quickly buried in snow, these lovely nodding white flowers at least hint that the dark days and long nights are not around forever. Picture: Getty Images
A thrush sings amid hawthorn blossom. Picture: Getty Images
2. Dawn chorus
You might hear this in January but things really get going by late February. The birds know that winter is ebbing and the result is a stirring ensemble to lift the heaviest heart.
Lesser celandines have glossy yellow petals. Picture: Getty Images
3. Lesser celandine
Bright yellow stars at the woodland’s edge and the hedgerow’s foot. Flowers from February to late April.
Buzzards dance in the skies. Picture: Getty Images
4. Buzzards skydancing
From late January onwards. Find a good vantage point near a wooded hill and watch pairs soar, dive, glide and perform aerial tricks the Red Baron can only dream about. It’s a mating ritual – and when birds think about nesting, warmer weather can’t be far away.
Daffodils catch the low spring sun. Picture: Getty Images
Late February to early April. Each flowerhead is a little ray of sunshine. Once they’re here, it feels as if they’ve never been away. How did we live without them?
A pair of great crested grebes flirting. Picture: Getty Images
6. Great crested grebes’ water ballet
From mid February, park lakes and reservoirs become aquatic stages for the strangest and most elegant avian courtship display as the two birds mimic each other’s movements.
A bumblebee forages for pollen and nectar. Picture: Getty Images
The first bees you see in March and April are the queens looking for early flowers for a good drink and then places to set up a colony for the year ahead.
A flowering cherry tree. Picture: Getty Images
8. Cherry blossom
One of the best and available to the most hardened urbanite. Blushing blooms bring a breath of countryside air to even the most unloved streets. Confusingly, it’s beginning to appear in December…
A bimstone butterfly settles on a grape hyacinth. Picture: Getty Images
9. Brimstone butterfly
Big, bright and fluttering in a woodland ride or garden near you, these dairy-yellow insects are the whole reason butterflies have butter in their names. They are among the first insects on the wing and can be seen on warm days in March.
Fresh from Africa: a swallow completes its migration. Picture: Getty Images
10. The first swallow
Swooping, fork-tailed in pursuit of the year’s first insect life, this African visitor arrives in April and generously remains with us until September. It’s impossible not to smile when you see your first swallow.