We flush five Snipe as we walk along the towpath alongside the marsh. Although ice has formed on the canal in the shady cutting it isn't so cold that the open pools amongst the rushes have frozen solid.
While snipe can still find soft ground to probe other birds are finding it more difficult to find food. A small flock of Lapwings circles over the snow-covered fields of the valley. On a garden lawn a Magpie tosses back the snow with a to-and-fro sideways sweep of its beak to rumage amongst the dead leaves hidden below.
My brother and sister's children hold a snowman competition. Well I say children; they range in age from 8 to 22. The offerings include an uncannily accurate portrait of James by his partner Abby, while Tom subverts our expectations of the medium by producing a snowy version of the traditional summer sand-castle.
And I guess I have to mention our nieces' effort, a snowman from whom I definitely wouldn't buy a second-hand car.