As winter strengthens its grip and in order to cope and ensure survival through the colder months, the most vulnerable groups of wildlife employ one of three basic strategies, namely migration, periods of suspended animation (diapause) or hibernation.

For example, following their spooky antics over Halloween, bats have now re-entered their hibernation quarters but sometimes venture out on mild evenings to feast on winter gnats over water.

Hedgehogs and dormice sleep throughout the winter whereas badgers may stay underground if snow falls and their main diet of earthworms is inaccessible. Grey and red squirrels don't hibernate but may retire to their dreys if the weather is too severe. Amphibians and reptiles hibernate.

Those winter gnats and indeed many insects that overwinter as adults have a chemical similar to antifreeze in their bodies which helps them survive extreme cold. Five of our butterflies hibernate or six if we include the occasional painted lady. Otherwise, most Lepidoptera spend winter either as dormant larvae or pupae.

Surprisingly perhaps, the tiny winter moth actually mates in winter. The grub-like female is wingless as to fly uses vital energy so she sits on a tree trunk wafting pheromones to attract winged males.

Of the birds, several species fly south from Arctic regions or Scandinavia to our shores These include redwings and fieldfares, what I call flippantly 'fly-by-nights' as they travel in flocks during the hours of darkness .

Then of course, our summer visiting swallows, martins  warblers and swifts left Britain weeks ago to enjoy an African summer.