Red Admiral resurgence in gardens

01 Oct 2014 | No. 2014-62

Earlier in the year the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch reported that butterflies were showing dramatic patterns of emergence, promising another successful year. Whilst most butterfly species did appear in high numbers, BTO Garden BirdWatch (GBW) results show that this year’s winner was the Red Admiral.

2013 was a good year for many of our common garden butterflies, giving them a boost after a run of miserable summers. This year started off even better, with many butterfly species emerging earlier and in higher numbers than in previous years, thanks to the mild spring temperatures.

This early emergence promised another fruitful breeding season for butterflies and it was. Whilst seen in slightly lower numbers than last year, both Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell were still reported from about half of BTO Garden BirdWatch gardens, and interestingly Small Tortoiseshell peaked a month earlier than in 2013.

However, the star species for Garden BirdWatchers this year was the Red Admiral. It started to increase in gardens three weeks earlier than in 2013, and by the end of August 42.5% of GBW gardens had reported seeing them, a 26% increase from 2013. By the beginning of October, unprecedented numbers were still being reported.

Clare Simm, from the Garden BirdWatch team, commented, "We knew from anecdotal reports that this year would be another good one for butterflies, and it did not disappoint. As you can see, our volunteers do not just focus on birds, but also provide us with vital information on other wildlife groups too."

Despite being migratory, Red Admirals are increasingly being reported well into the winter, with more seeming to survive the winter instead of dying off or returning to their wintering grounds. Will this winter be mild enough for them? Help us find out!

Get in touch for a free BTO Garden BirdWatch information pack which includes a copy of our quarterly magazine. Email gbw [at], telephone 01842 750050, or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU. For more information about BTO Garden BirdWatch, visit

Notes for Editors

  1. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 14,500 people take part in the project. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see
  2. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

Contact Details

Clare Simm
(BTO Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: clare.simm [at]

Kate Risely
(BTO Head of Garden BirdWatch)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: kate.risely [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2014-62

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

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