On Saturday 24th August, Cookstown Wildlife Trust members and friends set off by bus at 9.00 AM to visit Seaforde Gardens and Tropical Butterfly House and an afternoon walk in Murlough Nature Reserve.During the journey a break was taken at ‘Dobies Garden Centre’ near Lisburn for coffee/tea and scones. On arrival at Seaforde a short walk from the bus took us to the Butterfly House where Lady Anthea Forde gave us a short talk on the operation and running of both the Butterfly House and the estate.Our group spent a fascinating hour watching and photographing a wonderful selection of beautiful tropical butterflies of all sizes and colours. I have tried to identify as many of these as possible-see the slideshow Apart from the butterfly house, beautiful gardens and paths allowed us to wander around the well kept estate. A hornbeam maze designed to celebrate Patrick and Lady Anthea Forde’s 10th wedding anniversary in 1975 (it is now the oldest maze in Ireland) was a focus of interest and our Chairperson made it to the centre tower!In the gardens, two avenues of beautiful Eucryphias were the main feature, fortunately at their best in late summer. Seaforde holds the UK National Collection of Eucryphias with over 20 species and cultivars grown.After our wander around the gardens, most of the group settled for a relaxed lunch sitting at outside cafe tables in pleasant sunshine. The cafe itself was staffed by a number of pleasant and helpful girls. Back on board the bus (everyone wandered back on time) then through Clough towards Newcastle and our destination- Murlough Reserve. The afternoon remained pleasant and the short grass surrounding the ¼ mile boardwalk down to the beach provided plenty of interesting plants to look at. Scarlet Pimpernel, Devil's-bit Scabious, Sheep's-bit, Lady's Bedstraw, Lesser Stitchwort, Stork's-bill, Rest-harrow, Eyebright, Wild Pansy, Bell Heather, Ling Heather, Burnet Rose, Sea Buckthorn, Sea Mayweed, Sea Rocket, Fat-hen, Wood Sage, Wild Thyme and Common Field-speedwell were among plants recognised. We also found Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on Ragwort, but surprisingly butterflies were scarce on the dunes.On the beach we examined some rounded stones on the storm beach. These provided clues to the geological past of the Mourne area. Pebbles and stones from a range of granites, shales and mudstones predominated. These baked by the dome of molten magma which welled up, solidified and now forms most of the Mournes. A wander back to the bus completed an excellent day out .The itinerary required planning, the organisation of buses, restaurant and booking of the Butterfly House and it is thanks to Ernie and Maureen that everything went smoothly and according to plan.
Some of the wonderful butterflies at Seaforde-if you can identify those not named, please let me know. Thanks to Tom Campbell for many of the images shown..a very good photographer.
Saturday 24th August-Seaforde Gardens and Tropical Butterfly House and an afternoon walk in Murlough Nature Reserve.