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finds peak numbers of wildfowl and waders on the coast. Brent geese spend most of the month feasting on the eel-grass beds along the Thames Estuary: go to Two Tree Island to see them. Later they move on to graze at other coastal sites. Visit Abberton Reservoir, Cudmore Grove, Blue House Farm, Marsh Farm or Tollesbury Wick to enjoy the spectacle of thousands of wintering birds that come to the Essex coast to spend the winter.

In November bearded tits switch from insect food to feeding on seeds so it is a good time to see them in reedbeds such as at Ingrebourne Marshes, Vange Marshes or Stanford Warren, while in woodlands you may see feeding flocks of tits moving through the trees, sometimes accompanied by goldcrests.

Hedgehogs will be looking for a sheltered spot to hibernate, so check carefully before you set light to that pile of dead wood!

By now most insects will be hidden in inconspicuous forms as larvae or pupae, like the eggs of the brimstone butterfly, laid on the branches of buckthorns. Dead stems and seedheads are used as a refuge by many different kinds of insect, so don't be too thorough when tidying up the garden.

Robins pincushions however, caused by a tiny wasp, are conspicuous on the leafless stems of roses.

There are still many fungi growing on the woodland floor and, in ancient woodlands such as Thorndon Park, Pound Wood or Stour Wood, look out for an unusual shrub called butchers broom that carries red berries now.

Photo © Pat Allen