Belfast Telegraph

Father and son's butterfly hunt will take them to 68 islands in Strangford Lough

By Joanne Sweeney

A nature-loving father and son will be hunting for butterflies on the islands off Strangford Lough as they take part in one of the largest ever citizens' conservation projects in the world.

Cadogan Enright and nine-year-old Cad Og start on their ecological adventure today and will spend the next seven days canoeing between 68 islands on the lough in search of butterflies.

They aim to count as many butterflies on each island as they can over a 15-minute period.

Their trip is part of the Big Butterfly Count - the world's largest butterfly survey which encourages people to spot and record common butterflies during three weeks of high summer.

They will leave from Delamont Country Park with the aim of covering the west of the lough this year.

The pair, from Downpatrick, counted several hundred butterflies in the time frame on the islands of Inis t'Saggart and Inis Glas during their trip last summer which had to be called off midway through because of the fallout from Hurrican Bertha.

"The lough is an absolutely fantastic place for wildlife," said Mr Enright, an independent councillor on Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

"We saw a lot of small copper butterflies 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's a good way to connect with nature and to bond with the kids."

And the 51-year-old added: "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."

They are hoping for better luck than last year when the unexpected arrival of Hurricane Bertha put paid to their island odyssey at the half-way stage.

This time round their boat has been improved with additional flotation tanks to make their canoe 'Prospector' more able to withstand the elements.

Cadogan's wife Brenda will play a key part in the quest by meeting them at certain points to supply them with dry clothes, drinking water and food as the pair camp overnight on some of the islands.

One of the butterflies that they sure to spot is the cryptic wood white which is unique to the island of Ireland.

Catherine Bertrand, Butterfly Conservation's Northern Ireland senior regional officer, said: "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."

The green-veined white was the most commonly seen in Big Butterfly Count species for the second year running in Northern Ireland last year, followed by the small tortoiseshell in second place and the small white in third.

Belfast Telegraph


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