There is little doubt that the start of the 2012 Emperor season has been much later than in recent years; much later than in any season this century. However, although numbers are now building in some counties there is even less doubt that the species has suffered a very significant setback in Sussex. It was therefore with some relief that Colin Knight and I watched two males clashing over the Madgeland (Southwater) Wood Assembly trees at 3.20 pm this afternoon (20th July), these being the first seen here this year. Even better, we watched an already mated female pass through the Trout Lane canopy at 3.04 pm, only to be immediately accosted. She spiralled down into the top of the tall ash and was joined by her suitor. For several minutes we could see a frantic quivering of wings, before he gave up and allowed her to continue her egg-laying run along the southern wayleave. Sadly, this still only makes a handful of sightings in Sussex this year.