IN a stunning image of wildlife's wintry struggle, a tiny bird pecks seeds from a frosted thistle. This is a rare glimpse of a goldcrest, Europe's smallest bird, which ventures into gardens in search of food only in very cold weather. It was spotted in Arundel, West Sussex, where the temperature on Sunday morning was -9c (16f). Goldcrests weigh about the same as a 20p piece and as adults grow to about three inches long. They are listed as an amber species on the conservation register and there are thought to be only about 842,000 breeding pairs in Britain. Their numbers suffered during successive harsh winters in the 1960s and the population never fully recovered. Despite being susceptible to prolonged periods of freezing cold weather, they can endure sub-zero temperatures of minus 25 degrees Celcius. And with lows of nearly minus ten degrees Celsius, which meant England colder than the Antarctic, the weather certainly has been freezing. In Lark Hill in Wiltshire, temperatures plunged to - 9.7 degrees, the lowest recorded temperature in January in the last thirty years. With freezing fog over many parts of England this weekend, the weather has been particularly grim. But the cold snap is coming to an end and there is a brief period of respite on the way as temperatures move above freezing across most of the UK. Sunday night was the first frost-free night since before Christmas and temperatures, which have been below freezing for weeks, are gradually increasing. - DM Met Office forecaster Stephen Holman said: 'Monday will be wet and windy across north western England, Wales and South West of England to start with and that will gradually transfer south eastwards so that even the South East of England will have rain by lunchtime. 'Behind the cloud of rain, there will be sunshine and scattered showers. 'There will be brighter weather in most places by the afternoon, except for in South East England which will become rainy.' But it is not all good news as the frost is set to return mid week and temperatures will plunge to -3 degrees Celsius on Tuesday night. - DM