First butterfly of the year!

Well, there I was leaving a message on my friend Catherine’s answerphone when I saw something flutter into – and straight out of – our garden. A butterfly?!? I dropped the phone and flew out of the house in my slippers, grabbing my camera en route, and went on the hunt of the could-it-possibly-be-a-butterfly.

And lo and behold, in our neighbours’ back garden, I saw that it very definitely was a butterfly. A Red admiral. (I had assumed it would be a Peacock, as they tend to be the first ones I see each year. But that’s usually around April. Last year, for example, my first Peacock sighting in the garden was on 16 April.) 

The very-definitely-a-Red-admiral was fluttering around and then came to rest at the top of our neighbours’ white back door. I tried to get a photo, but it was gone again before I could get in very close.

1st butterfly of the year, 21.2.07

Off it fluttered, and off I followed, round the fronts of other neighbours’ houses. It stopped now and again at the top of white window frames, and eventually I managed to get a picture. It’s not the world’s best photograph by any manner of means, it does prove that I did just see a Red admiral, at 13:45  on Wednesday 21 February 2007.

1st Butterfly of the Year, 21 Feb. 07

The reason I say it does prove it is that I tried to enter the sighting on the UK Phenology Network website, and they said it was too unusual a sighting to enter on their records till they’d checked it out!

Interestingly, the Red admiral was the last butterfly I saw here last year, on 30 November, which you can all about it at my Surprise Visitor post.


  1. Hi,

    I’m surprised the UK Phenology Network website wouldn’t accept your sighting. I too saw a Red Admiral this week (Thursday 22 Feb 2007 9am, Bristol). There’s absolutely no doubt about it.

    The earliest record on the Amateur Entomologists’ Society Members’ Forum was from the week beginning 22nd Jan.



    Dr Kieren Pitts
    Youth Secretary
    Amateur Entomologists’ Society

  2. Hi Keiren

    Thanks very much for your message. I’ve just been and looked at the Phenology Network website, and they have now accepted my Red admiral sighting. I’m really interested to hear that you have seen a Red admiral at the same time as me. Is that usual for you down in Bristol? I personally don’t ever remember seeing one so early in the year up here in York.



  3. Hi Anneliese

    I have to say I don’t remember seeing a Red admiral earlier than this before either. It’s also not one of the first species I usually see in Bristol – generally I see Brimstones and Small tortoiseshells before Red admirals.

    All the best



  4. I don’t know about you, Kieren, but I hadn’t seen any other butterflies since my Feb. Red admiral sighting – until today, that is. We woke up here in York to snow on the ground, and assumed there was no chance of seeing any butterflies. And yet this afternoon one flitted across the garden. It was gone before I could identify it, but it wasn’t a Red admiral. It was smaller and more orangey in colour.
    Best wishes

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