It is thought that Red Admiral butterflies may be able to withstand the cold of our winters, but they tend to wake up too early if there is a warm day early in the year. At that time there are no flowers for them to feed on, so they can't replenish their energy reserves and sadly therefore perish.
This year I had only received three reports of Red Admirals in East Lothian up until the end of June.
Then, on 1st July I was walking our coastal path on a cloudy and windy day and I saw my first Red Admiral of the year. As I walked a little further another Red Admiral flew in from the sea and over the path. In the short distance that I walked a further five Red Admirals blew in from the coast. I thought this rather unusual and wondered if it had been the same butterfly that had been flying in circles!
When I arrived home I received an e-mail from a recorder who had seen seven Red Admirals flying or blowing in from the sea a little further up the coast and over the last few days I have received various similar reports suggesting that thousands of them have arrived.
Last night I drove along a local farm track and eleven Red Admirals flew up in front of the car. So, this evening I returned at the same time with my camera. There did not appear to be any on the track, but as I walked into a slight dip a Red Admiral flew up next to me.
It flew up into the trees and was joined by a second butterfly. Then, as I watched, two other Red Admirals flew out of the tree and spiraled up into the air together. There turned out to be at least eight Red Admirals in those trees.
Occasionally one would fly down and land on the road, or on a plant next to the road, but as soon as another flew past they would spiral up into the tree again!
They were so brightly coloured when their wings were open, but the underside of the wings is incredibly well camouflaged.