First Garden Butterfly of 2023

 And it was...

Photo 1: Red Admiral in the Garden (19/2/23)

First spotted on the 14th of February when 'it' paid a fleeting visit. Recorded on Nature's Calendar. The next appearance was on 19th February when it lingered long enough for a photo.

The Red Admiral is a somewhat enigmatic butterfly. Originally a migrant from continental Europe and North Africa, it can now over-winter in the UK. This resident population is swelled by migrants from Europe and Africa who arrive from Spring onwards. Whether red admirals hibernate (strictly speaking enter a dormant stage) or not is a moot point. In any case, these butterflies can be seen throughout the year including warm days in winter.

The first garden butterfly spotted in 2022 was a Peacock which appeared on 19th March, a whole month later than this year's first sighting. This is, perhaps, not surprising considering how warm this February has been so far. According to the Central England Temperature, maintained by the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, February (up to the 20th of the month) was running 3.0 ℃ warmer than the 1961 - 1990 average (3.8 ℃).

In our urban garden, the mean daily temperature for February (up to 20/2/23) has been a warm 7 ℃; we have been promised more typical temperatures for the rest of the month. Figure 1 plots the maximum daytime temperatures recorded by our Davis weather station during February. Daytime maximum temperatures have ranged from 9 ℃ to 17 ℃ with an average of 12 ℃; it has often felt warmer in the February sunshine.

Figure 1: Maximum Daytime Temperatures for February 2023 (up to the 20th)

"Just living isn't enough", said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower" Hans Christian Anderson (The Complete Fairy Tales)

Photo 2: Red Admiral in the Garden (19/2/23)


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