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Friday 31 December 2010

Flint Forage

Davy and I went out for a little flint forage, something that isn't in very short supply along the Antrim coast, and there is every grade and colour you can imagine, I have a fondness for the rose coloured variety and Davy likes the really black stuff..I'm no geologist but the sign at the site said that slow erosion can cause a red coloured flint and thats about as much as I know about it..

Looking North along the coast

Looking south along the coast

Looking directly behind us to the west

There are often Landslides along this part of the coast, indeed a small one actually happened while we were there, it was quite noisy and quite an event.

This had mostly happened before we arrived, but the fall that we witnessed was still quite impressive

And this was the bounty, lots of lovely rose red flint..

Monday 27 December 2010

Backyard Quinzhee

I have always wanted to make one of these, but in Northern Ireland we rarely have the snow to be able to attempt it but recently we've had quite a good fall, so after duely being well inspired by Andy's snow caves over on Belfast Bushcraft Blog I decided it was high time to give this a go. First I piled the snow as high as I could, I was only using a small entrenching tool and anybody who says they can build one in 45 mins is lying through their teeth!! It took a good 2 hours to get a pile about 4 feet high and about 7 feet in diameter, this was to allow a wall thickness of about 12 inches and allow me room to sit in but not be big enough to stand up, this all aids in warmth allowing your body heat to warm up the still air inside and keep the chill off..

Once the pile was high enough I poked bamboo skewers through the wall so that when hollowing it out I could tell exactly how thick the walls were. I left the snow to set for about 4 hours , this is called sintering, and once set I started to hollow out the inside, this was relatively easy and I quite enjoyed this part. With the snow I dug out from the inside I used it to form protective wind walls outside the entrance to stop the wind from blowing inside from each side of the quinzhee. I dug out just enough to allow myself and the 2 dogs inside and no more and the entrance was big enough to just allow me to wiggle inside on my back. Once inside it actually felt a little claustrophobic and I don't normally feel this way, but I really think it was having to crawl in through such a small tunnel and door that was causing this so I widened it a little and it felt much better!! I would rather sacrifice some heat to allow a more mentally relaxed atmosphere inside. I was very surprised by the comfort it provided inside, there was no air movement at all and it felt very still and relaxing, it was also very silent which really surprised me, I could hardly hear any sound from outside at all and it is a completely different feeling from being inside a one man tent with only a fine nylon wall between you and the outside world.

I  sent the 2 dogs in to get a depth of scale, unfortunately they wouldn't take any pics of me once I was inside!!

Here is Copper inside, Pebbles is inside too just round to the right behind the door..One strange thing happened the following day, after it had been built for about 36 hours the thing seemed to have shrunk!! I could no longer fit inside comfortably and it was quite a squeeze to get in, it had probably lost a good 8 inches in diameter, I don't know if this is a common thing or not or whether it was because the tempteature dropped significantly after I built it but if I ever have to build one of these things for real, I will make sure I build a little extra room in it, just to allow for shrinkage!

Friday 24 December 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

A very special christmas to all the Buzzard Bushcrafters out there, thankyou for taking the time to visit, and I really hope everything comes together for you all this year, and you get what you wish for.

 Remember that the most beautiful pictures are always painted by mother nature!

A view from Lord Conways old estate facing south over the Lagan..

       Lord Conways Limes

Tuesday 21 December 2010

A wonderful set of Fox tracks

         Sometimes it's worth braving minus temperatures to get tracks like this...

and this was what the fox had been stalking!

Do you know what left these?..I do..

Sunday 19 December 2010

Something very special in the snow

Davy and I went out for a scout around our new permission today just to get an idea of what it's like and plan a place for camps in the future, while we were there we noticed lots of fresh tracks in the snow, the usual, fox, mice, squirrel and rabbit but then a track that had us fooled for a bit..

A number of slides in the snow..

                                             Then some distinctive tail drags..

                                                  Then some unusual prints.

                                          Then the thing that gave it all away.....

It smelt of fish oil with a slightly aromatic aroma, unusual but by no means unpleasant, also contained a few fine bones and scales... we had discovered an Otter on our permission!!!, so plans are already underway to maybe get some pics of it in the summer or autumn next year if we are lucky enough..We are so chuffed to have such diversity on this site..We followed the tracks for a bit and found where that elusive character had went back to it's watery domain..

Tuesday 14 December 2010

A Thankyou to the Woodland Trust

I would just like to say a big thankyou to all those involved with the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland, you are a credit to the natural history of our island, and also a sincere personal thanks from myself and Davy..

Saturday 11 December 2010


Everybody uses them, don't they?..Well Davy and I only very rarely use them ,but nonetheless it's a good skill to practise if for nothing else than helping you achieve good knife control..We often hear people telling us how we should use feathersticks when it's wet to help us light a fire. Davy and I have went out in the pouring rain to try just this, we had no shelter, it was twilight and we needed a fire fast, so we cut some nice dead ash and split it with our leuku's and started making feather sticks, after about 10 minutes, not only were we soaked but so were the feathersticks resulting in a non starter for the fire..We quickly gathered some birch bark and had flame in less than 15 seconds!! Lesson learned, if you want a fire quickly, forget feather sticks, go straight for natures own firelighter...
However if you do want to make them, a few things to remember, use a wood with a long straight grain, no knots and use light knife pressure, also small feather sticks work better than large ones, and remember to make each feather different sizes, you can see in the picture below I have carved  some thin and also some thick as this will help your flame establish.
One last thing you don't have to shave the wood to feathers, you can just keep splitting the wood into long thin strips as thick as a matchstick or thinner and use these, they are just as good as feathersticks, long thin wood strips are called fire-splinters or fiddlesticks!

( Update 25.12.2010, with regard to the fire splinters/fiddlesticks mentioned above,  I have just watched the Desert Breakdown episode of Dual survival and noticed Dave Canterbury making these, see, we are not the only ones who like them!!))

Sunday 5 December 2010

A-ha O-ho,Tracks in the snow...

Found the rear print of a rabbit in the snow and was quite easy to follow and find more. There were also some fox tracks but none of them were good enough to warrant a picture, but at least I know they're out there and they should be a bit easier to track now I know where they are..

                                                  Rear foot print

A Text book set of rabbit prints

Pretty clear evidence here

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Signature Bird

 As I left the hill today after the forage, I heard our Signature bird call far above my head, my camera is no where near good enough to capture him that far away but it's nice to know he's shadowing me when I'm out in his domain.

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Winter Wild Edibles

I went for a quick walk today just to see what wild edibles are still available at this time of year. Of course our ancestors would have stored foodstuffs away, but if you were caught out at this time of year, what is there to help you survive in this part of the world?..
                    Good old faithful Haws, but beware the dreaded cyanide seeds!!

                                         The last of Autumns Blackberries..


                                  Some new winter nettle growth coming through

Dandelion Leaves

                                          Vast amounts of opposite leaf saxifrage

And a few manky walnuts

All in all not a bad find for an Hours forage, but in a survival situation these stocks would be depleted very quickly and would provide very little calorific value anyway, hunting and fishing and trapping as well as the stores you would have laid away for the lean  months are what we would rely on more at this time of year.

Monday 29 November 2010

A little fun in the Woods

As per our usual meets, a few of us turned up and tried some new things out and continued on with some things from the last time. Check out our sister site at Belfast Bushcraft for more pics..Also a special thanks to Alan for traveling up from Newcastle on a rather inclement day, his company was very appreciated!

Food is always a pleasure at the meets

Davy, getting messy making Drop Scones

Man food, real outdoors fare!

And leaving just ater dark.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Homemade Amadou

Davy and I have been experimenting with producing our own Amadou and have found a great way to make it work effectively..It burns well and smoulders long and hot. You can see Davy blowing the tinder bundle to flame in these shots. This took considerably longer than normal as it was so cold Davy's breath was virtually condensing as soon as it left his lips resulting in the cooling of the tinder bundle and the slowing of it going to flame and  far more dense smoke being produced, still, we are happy to inform, we did get it to work quite a few times, and we are now happy with our Amadou production method..The pics aren't great but you get the idea, ( I think I need a new camera!)

Thursday 11 November 2010

Lovely pics

My son took some great pics on our recent trip to Donegal..

Just attatched and ready to transform!!

Jiminy Cricket, ain't he gorgeous!!

Chinese bramble berries , Loads of them and they were delicious.. and this was the only time I've ever found them!

Honeysuckle Blossom.

Hazel nuts, ( number one son called them apple nuts!!!!!)

And an absolutely true and genuine Fairy Thorn, not many of these magical trees left.

A few pics from the Backwoods Beachcomber course

We made the trip to Loch Fyne in Scotland and had a ball with Patrick and his team on a coastal bushcraft course, here are just a few pics..

A stone smoker for venison jerky, delicious!

Handmade Basha canoe for fishing and setting crab traps

Base camp....