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Father and son take on 68-island canoe challenge for the Big Butterfly Count

Published 20/07/2015

A nature-loving father and son are hoping to paddle to almost 70 islands on Strangford Lough in an epic bid to count butterflies.

Cadogan Enright, 51, and his nine-year-old son, Cad Og, will set off in their battered canoe this week for the seven-day challenge.

They plan to visit 68 islands spread across 40 miles (64km) of the lough.

The adventure is their contribution to the Big Butterfly Count - a worldwide survey which encourages people to spot and record common butterflies during three weeks of high summer.

The pair attempted the feat last year but had to call a halt halfway through due to high winds when the tail end of Hurricane Bertha hit Northern Ireland.

This time round they have added extra flotation tanks to their canoe, which is affectionately named Prospector, in case the conditions turn nasty again.

The lough's mainly uninhabited islands are a haven for many types of butterflies, like Small Coppers, Ringlets and Meadow Browns.

Mr Enright, who is an independent councillor on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said he was looking forward to the trip.

"The lough is an absolutely fantastic place for wildlife," he said. "We saw a lot of Small Coppers last year for the first time in the south of the lough - it will be really interesting to see if they are there again this year.

"Doing the Big Butterfly Count as part of a boating trip gives it the flavour of a 'mission' and offers a new reason for reaching the next peak and valley or the next island. It is a good way to connect with nature and to bond with the kids. It's a bit of a holiday for both of us and we already have a few tin whistle tunes to learn in the evening."

Mr Enright's wife Brenda is also set to play a part in the quest, by meeting her husband and son at certain points to re-supply them with dry clothes, drinking water and food.

Catherine Bertrand, from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland, said: "It's brilliant to see families getting so involved in the Big Butterfly Count and really taking the opportunity to go wild and explore our wonderful landscapes looking for them.

"Butterflies are really sensitive to changes in the natural world, so every single one that you see helps us tell the story of how they are faring, especially here in Northern Ireland when many parts of the country are still very under-recorded."

Last year the Green-veined White was the most commonly seen Big Butterfly Count species in Northern Ireland for the second year running.

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