As I walked past the house yesterday, through the alley between the logstore and the kitchen windows, a dark winged creature flew up haphazardly into the air and dropped over the fence and into the bottom meadow. Eager to identify it, and driven by a desire reawakened after months of restriction, I caught up with the insect and found to my surprise that it was a red admiral butterfly.
Although red admirals have a long adult stage in the life cycle, and can be seen through most of the summer months from around late June, a spotting in late February is a rare thing, certainly over the last few decades. June/July sightings are most commonly migrants, flying in for the summer. My admiral, therefore, must have successfully overwintered in the garden somewhere. It must have awoken in this mild late winter in the hope and haze of a Spring.
I hope it survived the night!