The weather here in Hampshire has been rather windy the last few days, so I wasn’t surprised to find a butterfly on our garden path, obviously suffering the ill effects. I kept my eye on him for a while, but I worried about him being on the floor. If our cat finds him, he will bring him indoors to play with. He rarely hurts them but this little fellow was suffering enough, so I gently lifted him up on to the table in our yard. He kept his wings closed, so I couldn’t tell what he was, but I suspected he was a Red Admiral.
He sat there, unmoving. I couldn’t see any damage, but Anita had joined me by this time and wondered if he could be thirsty. Before I could blink, she was back with some sugar water, which she sprinkled on the table in front of the casualty. The two of us stared at the butterfly, willing him to do something, if only flap his wings and fly away. Instead, we watched in amazement as his tongue uncurled and he stabbed at the liquid several times!
Soon afterwards, he began to flutter his wings. We expected him to take off, but the fluttering’s were a bit lopsided, and when he stopped moving again with his wings wide open, we could see that a small part of one of his wings was missing. It was definitely a Red Admiral, but he may never fly again. It might have been kinder to put him out of his misery, but neither of us wanted to do that.
As we stood and watched, hoping for a miracle, he started leaping about again. When he reached the edge of the table, I put my hand in the way to stop him falling, and he landed on it, and started to climb up my arm. When he reached the top of my arm, literally inches from my face, I could see every detail of his wings and body, and he seemed strong enough to me. Being so close to such an amazing creature was unbelievably beautiful and something I will never forget.
I decided to take him to a bush in the garden where he could decide his own fate, and although I kept checking, there was no sign of him anywhere. We both hoped his visit had a happy ending…