Never mind The Grand Surprise... Tony Croft, an experienced observer, saw a male in Rushbeds Wood, just north of Brill, Bucks, on Tues July 1st.
I must say I am amazed by this, but some of the sites in that district are 'early' and the butterfly fared quite well there last year. Remember Heslop's 'pioneer male' theory?
It will be interesting to see when the next sighting occurs (my guess is Sun 7th but do please prove me wrong). Ken Willmott has been looking daily at Bookham Common, which often produces the first male of the year, and hasn't even seen White Admiral there yet. Elsewhere, just the odd male White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary has been seen.
What I will predict is that there will be a much improved emergence this year, as there were relatively low levels of predation on hibernating larvae.