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Thursday 31 March 2011

Liars and Tigers and Boars Oh My!!!

In the woods near where I live you tend to see some unusual wildlife if you walk far enough round the Cavehill

live bacon, yum!

I'm glad he was behind the fence!

And sometimes you get some real exotics watching you!!

Sunday 27 March 2011

Seashore plants and seaweeds

This time we went for a quick look to see what vegetation and seaweeds are about. I've been told there are roughly 600 varieties of seaweed around our coasts but some are so uncommon that they are known only by their latin names, so we have tried to pick a few of the more recognisable ones that you are likely to find on a day out. As a matter of fact there are so many different types on this particular shoreline that we intend to do this again in late summer or autumn and post up a few more varieites then..

Alexanders, this is an edible plant. Although to be honest I would steer you away from all umbilifers as the chance of making a mistake could result in the loss of your life, so unless you are 1000% sure, remember the adage, "if in doubt, leave it out".

Bladder wrack ( fucus vesiculosus)..This is also edible, but contains high amounts of iodine so beware! As you would expect, it also has great medicinal properties too.

Toothed wrack, (fucus serratus) edible, but certainly not one of my favourites, again some medicinal properties in this wrack. (PS, it's NOT a kelp!)

Carragheen or Irish moss (chondus crispus) edible, a relatively common seaweed on our shores, used as a thickener in soups ,stews and of course blancmange.

Sugar kelp (Laminaria saccharina) {the long wavy one in the picture}, very edible, deep fry for crisps, or I prefer it simply dry and chopped up, one of the worlds most commercially important seaweeds.

Witches hair -{you can see why it's so called} (desmarestia aculeata) INEDIBLE ! I was surprised to find this specimen, although it was washed up dead and in poor condition, one of the very few seaweeds we can't eat due to the high proportion of sulphuric acid it contains.

A great day out, and we really should spend more time on the shore, it's a completely different world with a completely different type of knowledge needed, bushcraft isn't all about the woods!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

White, Yellow, Blue

I once heard uncle Ray saying that in nature the white flowers show first, then the yellow, then the blue, so out for a dander today to see how true this is.

Celandine is in flower, so that's the yellow, but there are blue flowers out at the same time!

Speedwell is out too,

But there is no sign yet of the white flowers of Wild Garlic.
So unless uncle Ray was talking about snowdrops then I guess he's not quite right, especially as the yellow and blue are out together..still it's nice to see even the masters can make a mistake!

On the way back I found a small piece of lime bark, so I tried some cordage, this was straight off a branch that had fallen, no prep whatsoever and it twisted up very well although rather wirey compared to when it has been properly prepared.

Inachis io
The first one this year that has sat long enough for me to get a pic!

Sunday 20 March 2011

Easy like Sunday morning..

An easy day out today, nothing special to do except relax and stare at the fire, talk, tell tales and dream dreams, perfect.

Davy got the water on for a brew

We made sausage and egg soda

Proper man food.

Went for a quick walk after and noticed the wood sorrel in bloom

Then went for a little drive to another spot we know to see if we could see our aquatic friend, no joy but the resident otter had been feasting on swan mussels

Great food, great company, great times... days like this are so rare and yet so pleasurable.

Wednesday 16 March 2011


Fire by percussion is my favourite method of firelighting and I'm always on the look out for new stones that will work with my steel, obviously flint is the king here, but quartz and even basalt work well too. However just recently we found a very small deposit of Jasper. Now I've found this in Donegal before but never close to home, so we're well chuffed with this find. The stone is a silicone dioxide based stone along the lines of flint and quartz, it's often referred to as a chert, but it doesn't fracture just as well and tends to be different colours although mostly a reddish hue, it's opaque or very slightly translucent around the outside and produces sparks although not in the league of flint.This stuff is not great quality and it certainly isn't jewelry standard but we have made fire from it very easily and as such it's another string to our bow so to speak.

Also found an interesting quote about it...

"A mineral of the siliceous kind and of several varieties. It is less hard than flint or even common quartz, but gives fire with steel. It is entirely opake or sometimes feebly translucent at the edges.."

Source..Webster's 1828 American dictionary

Sunday 13 March 2011

Buzzard Bushcraft On Tour

Familiarity breeds contempt says the old adage and there is nothing more contemptable than going to the same place time after time after time after time. So with what little knowledge we have Buzzard have decided over the next few months to expand our knowledge of the coast and it's resources. Today was an attempt to find protein on the shore, This is an area often neglected by bushcrafters and one we intend to exploit. This is a learning curve for us so if we get anything wrong, please understand that we ourselves are still only beginners in mother natures wilderness school.

Shellfish are an obvious source so we set out to find a few different types, these are Clams

These are cockles, notice the difference in shell shape and texture

Mussels are on the left and Willicks on the right..,

We took just a very few of each type to let those guys who had never tried them have a taste.Once they were cooked we ended up with the basis of a fantastic Gumbo

We also took just a few shore crabs, these are one of my personal favourites!

We retreated back up to a little wood on the edge of the shore to cook them and the shellfish. Cooked shore crab, they were delicious!!, and there was also plenty of a particular little crittter that went down well with eveybody

Shrimps, plenty about and very easy to catch.
The shore, even at this time of the year is a goldmine of protein.
Next time we head down we intend to concentrate on seaweeds and plants.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Fungi Lunch

I went out today to see if I could scrape together a quick lunch and with a particular favourite in mind I went to a dead standing elder...

A quick look showed just what I was after

A Lovely crop of Jews Ear fungus, so I gathered a quick bundle and then back home to the kitchen

Just 3 ingredients needed, the Jews ear, some olive oil and crusty bread

Coarsely chop the mushroom

Add some olive oil to the pan and add the bread and the mushroom and lightly fry on a moderate heat for about 3 minutes

The mushroom will fizzle and pop, but as soon as the bread has lightly browned, remove from the pan and sandwich the mushroom between the two halfs and enjoy! This is one of my all time favourites!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Scouts Education Programme 1

We have been working with our local scout group for the past 18 months or so and this year the wilderness and primitive skills programme we are running with them is a little more intensive.We have already run a fire session with them where we covered all methods of fire production focusing especially on primitive methods. This time the class is the first of 2 sessions on wild food this one being basic animal anatomy and game preparation.

Examination of the game prior to preparation

The Explorer scouts examining a cock pheasant, checking it's estimated age and and looking at primary and secondary feathers and their uses.

I demonstrated how to skin a bird and draw it once it was ready, then it was over to the scouts to start to skin their pheasants. Each one had a go at skinning and removing the meat from both pheasants and pigeons. Emphasis was put on utilising every part of the bird, from the feathers to the meat, the bones and even the entrails.

Davy did a quick masterclass on panassing a trout, some of the kids had a harder time with the fish than the birds!

Then Davy and I had a feast!!

The kids were great and not one shied away from doing what needed to be done, as a matter of fact this class was so popular we had to have the explorers and scouts in together and rumour has it that their parents even wanted to sit in on this! Other sessions will follow throughout the year.

( All parental permissions have been granted.)

Wednesday 2 March 2011

They're up!

Went out for a bimble early this morning,just cause...and found that there was still some frost on the ground

But it's not holding back the spring growth, my favourite wild greens are starting to show

The Wild Garlic is coming through!!

I adore this stuff so much !!

Mr badger had been rummaging around too

And the SPIRIT OF BUSHCRAFT the Buzzard, circled and called above me

What a day!!