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Pony near Hampton Ridge
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Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Where: Likely to turn up almost anywhere, particularly where plants suitable for nectaring are present
When: Primarily March to October
How many: Good numbers are often present
A Red Admiral basking on a gorse bush
A Red Admiral basking
on a gorse bush

Although in some years abundant and widespread, Red Admirals occur annually in variable numbers. They are primarily migratory creatures that originate in North Africa and continental Europe, but small numbers sometimes successfully over-winter in Britain, particularly in the south of England.

Red Admirals are large insects - wingspan is around 7 centimetres - with bold, mainly black, red and white patterning that probably needs little description. The underside of the hindwing, however, is altogether duller, and provides effective camouflage when the butterflies are at rest with wings closed. Both sexes are of similar appearance.

Red Admiral sightings are often reported in virtually every month of the year, although they are most frequently seen from spring until October and occasionally during mild spells in November. Following spring and early summer matings, newly emerged insects are on the wing from around July onwards.

They are frequent garden visitors that also occur widely in the countryside, including in much of the New Forest - wildflower-rich woodland rides, woodland edges and clearings are often favoured, and so is heathland when the heathers are in bloom.

Nectar is taken from a large variety of flowers, whilst the juices of rotting fruit and tree sap will also be enthusiastically devoured. Feeding is said to become a late summer preoccupation, presumably in readiness for return migration, which can sometimes be observed from the Hampshire coast, or to build up reserves in preparation for over-wintering attempts.

References:
Butterflies of the British Isles: J.A. Thomas
The Butterflies of Hampshire: Matthew Oates, John Taverner, David Green et al
The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland: Jim Asher, Martin Warren, Richard Fox, Paul Harding, Gail Jeffcoate and Stephen Jeffcoate
Insects of the New Forest - Paul Brock

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** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%.
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley