A bright sun lured me to Byfield Pocket Park (Oh no, not again!) in the hope that insects had been similarly enticed. In the chilly conditions they proved to be more sensible than me and, apart from a few Sepsid flies, stayed concealed.
I idly turned over a few large stones (replacing them carefully) and revealed large numbers of woodlice. When investigating timber a few weeks ago I found Porcellio scaber to be by far the most abundant (blog for 23rd January) but today the different microhabitat overwhelmingly yielded Oniscus asellus, shown on this rather poor photograph (I had the wrong camera with me) with the slug Tandonia (Milax) budapestensis - a common slug in this situation, easily recognised by the yellowish "keel" along the back.
Beneath the stones were several spiders: Lepthyphantes tenuis, Diplostyla concolor and Bathyphantes gracilis - all very common species previously recorded from the park. The equally common harvestman, Nemastoma bimaculatum, was also present. This was a new record and brings the total of arthropods (woodlice, centipedes, spiders, insects, etc) to 435.
Given the sunshine this was a disappointing foray but promising signs are everywhere. Daffodils are in bud - none yet having the temerity to flower - and the buds are also swelling on oak, beech and lime. Catkins bedeck several species of tree: hazel, birch and alder and I refuse to be downcast.