Greetings from the 2016 Purple Emperor season, which kicked off today at Knepp Wildlands, West Sussex, with three males (the first exploring the oak tops at 3.05, then a vicious thug of a male which attacked me at 3.45, then one going into roost in the oak crowns at 5.15).
In addition, Rob Hill saw a male on territory at Hill Farm Territory on Bookham Common, Surrey, at 3.35.
I think these are the first nationally (and rather hope so as I've never managed to see the first of the season, at least in the modern era).
This is very early days, though, so don't expect a plethora of sightings in the next few days. I doubt this is going to be a particularly good season, but a great deal depends on flight season weather - which can only improve...