In order to cope with the rigors of winter, nature employs a variety of strategies. Most extreme is hibernation while migration to warmer climes plays a key role too.

Many insects hibernate as do amphibians and reptiles but few animals .

The Rev. Gilbert White, celebrated vicar if Selborne was a brilliant naturalist who discovered many things but he knew nothing of migration and believed that swallows spent the winter either asleep at the bottom of ponds or in caves. He even employed a small work force to look for them but of course none were found as the birds were sunning themselves in South Africa.

Another option adopted by birds concerns their flocking together in winter. Many pairs of eyes are more likely to spot a predator and they also communicate with one another if a plentiful food source is found.

Geese, redwings (pictured) , fieldfares and waxwings move south from Scandinavia in late summer flying overnight in flocks. It is sometimes possible to hear redwings calling as they speed overhead on cold frosty nights.

Goldfinches spend most of the year in flocks but the tit family are more solitary until autumn when they too club together and move rapidly from tree to tree, sometimes joined by other small species.

Then of course there are the magical murmurations of millions of starlings swirling around and plunging into reed beds to roost.

Pied wagtails are real 'townies' and in many city locations roost together in trees around shopping precincts where the warmth from buildings is welcomed.

Safety in numbers is winter's watchword.