AFTER the snow and ice of the past few years, most of us have enjoyed the slightly milder winter this time.

It all means small savings on heating bills, fewer mornings reaching for the de-icer, and generally less hassle.

And the warmer weather has also brought with it signs of spring in East Lancashire where wildlife has put in an early appearance, lulled into a false sense of security.

After reports of roses in bloom last week, there have been sightings of tortoiseshell and red admiral butterflies, and badger activity earlier than is usual.

Forecasters are predicting the next few weeks will also be milder than usual but it could all lead to confusion for our furry friends and others, particularly if a cold snap should strike.

If badgers, for example, give birth and then the weather turns, the tiny cubs may struggle to survive.

So if the worst should happen and we are faced with an Arctic blast before winter is over, please spare a thought for our wildlife.

We can all help them out with food supplies and by making our gardens a welcoming place where nature can flourish.