My jobs to do in the garden list is currently topped by 'Clean leaves out of the pond'.

I dabbled a bit last weekend and managed to clear those nearest the surface, but I'm waiting for slightly better weather (wishful thinking, seeing today's dreary affair) to roll up my sleeves and get properly stuck in.

While I was busy leafing through the debris (sorry, bad joke), I was surprised to come across a newt tadpole (an eft), which will presumably now overwinter in the pond. Adult newts leave the water to hibernate on land, but the young can stay underwater apparently for winter. Have you seen any newt activity in your pond recently?

Which brings me onto a little something we've been working on for the next issue of Birds. You may have seen, and hopefully enjoyed, the wildlife illustrations in the magazine as well as all the photographs, which I know so many of you enjoy.

It all starts when Birds designer, Joel, and I get together to throw around some ideas about what interesting bits of behaviour we can illustrate and explain in the magazine. Joel then goes off and starts sketching our some 'roughs' of how it might look in the magazine.

Which might look a little something like this as it starts to take shape.

He then gets in touch with one of our excellent illustrators - in this case Robin Carter - to produce the illustrations. It's always exciting to get the original artwork in the post in that 'handle with care' bubblewrap package and see what we get to scan into Birds magazine.

I hope you'll enjoy the finished newt article in the spring issue of Birds magazine. Look out for it on the 'Wild about' pages. Don't forget to come back and compare the finished product with what you've seen here!