Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Dad and son to island-hop around Strangford Lough counting the butterflies

Cadogan Enright and his son Cad Og get set for their adventure on Strangford Lough

A father and son are embarking on a canoe odyssey in a bid to count butterflies on all of Strangford Lough's islands.

Cadogan Enright and his eight-year-old Cad Og plan to spend a week canoeing around the lough – the UK's largest inlet – in an effort to count as many butterflies on as many islands as they can.

They will brave blisters, unpredictable weather and hungry horseflies as they attempt to count butterflies for the Big Butterfly Count on more than 50 islands.

The Big Butterfly Count, organised by Butterfly Conservation, is the largest insect citizen science project in the world.

Mr Enright (50), who sets off on Friday, said: "We are aiming to visit about six islands per day, camping on a different island each night. Strangford Lough is one of the most important wildlife sites in Ireland and its islands are a fantastic place to look for butterflies.

"Healthy places should have lots of butterflies. This year, with the warm weather, there should be considerably more butterflies to see."

The idea of the odyssey was hatched after the duo canoed around several of the lough's islands last summer.

Catherine Bertrand, Butterfly Conservation's Northern Ireland senior regional officer, said: "I'm really looking forward to hearing of Cadogan's exploits and those of anyone else having wildlife adventures as a result of taking part in the count.

"There are so many places to explore in Northern Ireland: the heights of the Sperrins, Slieve Gullion, the Mournes and the Belfast Hills; our wonderful woodlands in the Glens of Antrim; our dramatic coast and glorious flower-filled dune systems; the lakelands of Fermanagh."

Many counts have taken place so far in the east of Northern Ireland but more records are needed in the west, she added.

Last year, more than 46,000 people took part, counting more than 800,000 butterflies.

The Big Butterfly Count runs until August 10. Taking part is easy: jot down which butterflies you see during a sunny 15-minute period and send your sightings to the Big Butterfly Count website.

Factfile

Designated as Northern Ireland's first Marine Nature Reserve, Strangford Lough is internationally renowned for its abundance and diversity of habitats and species. More than 2,000 marine animal and plant species have been found, most unique to this area. Look out for Arctic terns, Irish hares, porpoises and the two species of seal to be found in the lough.

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