By Jeremy Coles
25 January 2016
December 2015 was an extraordinary month in the UK from a weather point of view.
The average temperature was almost 8C, nearly 4C warmer than the long-term average for the month since records began. And it was also record-breaking in terms of rainfall.
This has been no ordinary start to the winter season, says meteorologist and BBC Weather forecaster Nick Miller: “It represents the warmest and wettest start to winter the UK has seen since records began in 1910.
“December should really be characterised by spells of colder weather and a greater frequency of frost,” says Miller.
While we did have a brief taste of a "normal" cold and frosty winter weather in mid-January, it has returned to the unseasonally mild conditions once again. However, according to the Met Office the longer forecast into February looks changeable with mild, wet spells interspersed with colder, drier interludes and the possibility of some longer, colder spells returning later in February.
And with extraordinary weather, you'd expect our wildlife would show out of the ordinary behaviours.
Typically, birds would be out foraging for enough food to provide them with the energy they require to keep warm and survive the cold night. For some small birds, such as the blue tit, that could be for as long as 85% of the daylight hours.