I wasn't expecting this when I swathed myself in multiple layers, wrapped a scarf three times round my head, and tottered unsteadily out into the garden to look for
victims subjects. I was pursuing a woundwort shieldbug, which was a long way off keen to be photographed, when I was distracted by something shiny - or, in this case, dramatically tri-coloured - and I left the shieldbug to make its escape while I stalked the butterfly. Strangely though, when I arrived back several minutes later it was still sitting exactly where I'd left it, so I think it had simply been playing hard to get.
There's a lot of debate in butterfly circles about Red Admirals, and the extent to which they can be considered a fully native species. In the very south of England they're thought to overwinter successfully and breed on emergence in the spring, but it's said that the further north you travel the more likely it is that the summer population consists of migrants from the Continent. These breed here and give rise to a new generation, with peak emergence in late summer and early autumn, and it's that generation that will attempt to overwinter, and may appear unexpectedly on warm and sunny winter days to bask, and even to feed where nectar is available. Sadly, they're not great at finding safe and sheltered roosts, and received wisdom is that in colder counties few to none of them make it through to spring. This specimen found a little food in this sedum, but had more luck with my Viburnum x bodnantense, which is flowering enthusiastically at the moment, and on which the butterfly was feeding with parallel enthusiasm when I left it in peace and went off to pester the shieldbug again.
The day had started well, and I'd thought (foolishly as it turned out) that I'd got away without any negative reaction to yesterday's booster shots. I made some yoghurt, did some washing, and checked over my bank accounts, all the while live-tracking my camera gear as it slowly made its way across the Shire. But about half way through the morning I started to feel a bit offish - shivery, nauseous and aching seemingly in every joint and muscle, with a piercing headache - and by the time I got in from my mini-beast safari around the garden all I wanted to do was go to bed. R was out though, and my gear was still half an hour away, so I used the time to make some bread. Given that I managed to use the wrong quantities of flower, malt extract and water, from a recipe I've followed dozens of times, and that it took me four goes to programme the bread machine, when you only have to press three buttons, and only two of those are really significant.... I decided that this might not the best day to be playing with some of the most sophisticated electronic gadgetry ever devised. So as soon as the box of gear was safely in the house I took myself off to bed, and spent much of the afternoon asleep.
Tonight's extra is a grey squirrel that I snapped through the kitchen window while both of us were having breakfast. Because squizzers.