Sunday 28 January 2024

An Epic Butterfly Start to 2024.

 With our warming climate I often see butterflies in all 12 months of the year. I was on course for this again in 2023, but failed on the final hurdle, with no UK sightings in December.

2024 started, and it was starting to look as though I would actually fail at the first hurdle, as up until the 26th I hadn't seen any at all. Even more frustrating as Matt had actually seen one on January 1st!!

On Friday, the 26th, Lisa was heading over to mine for a trip out in the sunshine to hopefully see some Bearded Tits. While I was waiting for her to arrive, I loaded up the car with the camera gear along with wellies and coats etc, and then decided to clean out the bird feeder. Whilst cleaning the feeders I suddenly became aware of a couple of Red Admirals flying around my head. Yay, at last, a butterfly sighting. 

It then became much, much better though, as they landed on the wall of the house and then joined up to mate. Now, Red Admirals are very rarely seen mating at any time of the year. Obviously they do mate, as they are a common butterfly, but they must do it very discreetly normally. It is even rarer for a winter coupling and this could even be the first time its been photographed in the UK during the winter??

My first photo of this event was all done in a bit of a panic, as of course the camera was in the car already for the trip out. Even worse was the macro lens was upstairs in the house. I very quickly took a photo on the mobile, just to make sure I had some evidence, and then raced to the car and upstairs to get both the camera and lens I needed. 

Mating Red Admirals. (female with open wings and male behind her).

I then managed to get close enough to the wall to get both butterflies sharp, as at this point they were both closed wings. It was very difficult getting into the best position to get them sharp as it was shooting straight down from above them. After getting a few images I text Lisa, hoping she would get the message and that she would arrive before they flew. Fortunately, a couple of minutes later I saw her car draw up, and she managed to see and photograph this very rare event. 

Mating Red Admirals. As seen from above them. (Female on left).

After we had both taken enough photos to ensure we had some sharp ones, we left them in peace and went off to hopefully see some Bearded Tits. 2 were seen, but it was without doubt that the Red Admirals had been the stars of the day!!!


  1. Amazing, congratulations on both seeing a butterfly in January and seeing a pair of Red Admirals mate! I don't think I have seen either, in this country!! With the dreadful rain and storms we have been having I can't imagine seeing a butterfly for years. I wonder if any were hibernating in the holes in the large Beach trees that came down here!

  2. Oh ! Fabulous ! Well done ! 🦋