A BOLD yet lilting song drifts across the winter-laden air by this shelterbelt on the fringes of the Ochils.

At first, I think it is blackbird, but no, the song is different and more hesitant in its delivery.

There it goes again, one melancholy phrase, followed by a pause, before moving onto the next.

I scan the trees with my binoculars, and up high, perched on the very top of a sycamore, I eventually spot the source of this sweet music – a mistle thrush.

He sang for a while longer, before swooping down from his lofty perch to alight on a fence post, the distinctive pale margins of his tail catching the frost-sparkled sunlight.

The thrush sat there for a short period, before taking to the air once more in an undulating flight and disappeared from view.

In February, even when the wind is blowing, and every other bird has hunkered down, mistle thrushes have this endearing habit of spilling forth their rich songs from the tops of trees.

Indeed, the bird is even known as the "storm cock" because of its penchant to sing when the weather is inclement.

Thomas Coward, the early 20th century ornithologist, wrote: "…when the weather is broken, the bird perches high on a tall tree and in exultant and ringing song defies the elements".

Other songbirds are tuning up now throughout the Wee County. Indeed, on the River Devon, dippers have been singing their under-stated notes all through the winter as they establish their breeding territories.

And song thrushes, another early singer, are also beginning to make their presence felt, followed soon by blackbirds.

Over the coming weeks as spring's embrace becomes ever stronger, I will continue to listen out for my local mistle thrush, revelling in the beauty of his rich fluty tones resonating across the green folds and tucks of the Ochils.