Monday, 28 March 2011

Into the Wild

On the 25th myself and Stuart went for a bit of a dander over the Antrim plateau. Our intention was to pay a visit to the Neolithic Axe factory at the foot of Teivebulliagh in the hills above Cushendall to observe the unique features in the landscape made by our ancestors all those years ago. In true NIBA fashion we decided to make the walk there a little more challenging and take in a couple of peaks while we were at it. We started off at a small carpark east of Newtowncrommelin and hit the hills. The ground over the antrim hills is challenging unlike the Mournes there are very little if any tracks, most of which are made by sheep. Navigation can also be a problem a map and compass being a must have item. There are few close reference points and when the mist comes in it can be a tad dangerous if you cant navigate properly. Other real dangers up there are sink holes of which we discovered many, one was particularyly large (we plotted a grid of this one for future reference) and would involve ropes to navigate it properly. Our first peek was Slievenanee standing 543mts from here we headed north east to the top of Trostan standing 550mts. Whilst up there we were joined by some folks from the South of Ireland who were walking to the top of the highest peak in each of the 32 counties in Ireland in aid of Cystic Fibrosis (i will be putting up another blog entry especially for this event) After a chat and a quick photo session we said our farewells and headed on towards Tievebulliagh standing. Our next stop was at the top of Teivebulliagh itself for a spot of lunch. Tievebulliagh stands 402mts and is actually the inclined plug of an extinct volcano. As a result of this there are many different rock formations to be observed at this site though as it is ASSSI we didn't disturb the area and enjoyed the view which is quite frankly breathtaking! This site was the location of a find of an assortment of Neolithic Axe heads made from a hard volcanic rock called Porcellanite. I am not geologist so here is a link to an online site that explains more, We spent a good hour enjoying the view before heading back to the cars via a slightly different route. At first glance the Antrim hills give the appearance of a desolate barren landscape, but spend some time up there and you will come across its inhabatants. On the journey we saws lots of sign of fox, we saw a number of red grouse and even collected some feathers. There were also rabbits snipe frogs and spawn. The area is not for the unfit as this is a challenging enough route to take, but is well worth the walk.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Few Days Out

The following is a collection of my days out in my local woods with Neil. We had a day focused on tracking and i had a day out with with my dog ben identifying a few wild plants.

Pine cones on the laft gnawed by a squirrel and on the right by wood mouse which has a much smoother appearance than that of the squirrel gnawed cone
Bark stripped by deer
Roe deer droppings 10-14mm long and 7-10mm wide
A fairly old skull of a young roe deer you can see the Y shaped knitting of the skull with the two small antler buds clearly visible
A fresh sparrow wing from a fresh kill
And the culprit was good enough to leave us something to id the predator...
.... which was of course a sparrowhawk its pellet 2-4 cm long and consisting of firmly matted small feathers
Sparrow wing again

More barking  by deer in these next few photos and not to be confused with fraying. In barking the animal eats the bark leaving tooth marks, while fraying leaves scratches in bark and wood caused by the antlers
Daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus
Ramsons Allium ursinum
Lords and Ladies Arum maculatum
Common Reedmace, Bulrush Typha latifolia
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica
Unknown feel free to edit here
Scarlet elf cup Sarcoscypha coccinea
Common Puffball Lycoperdon perlatum

David Kennedy

Monday, 7 March 2011

Bushcraft Weekend overnighter

A few of us decided to stay out at the weekend. It was a time to meet up with friends old and new and have a bit of craic. It was a nice relaxing weekend but we still managed to practice some skills. We did some carving work and a burnt out wooden cup and a couple of impressive flutes appeared. We had a forage on the sea shore, and a forage on the land gathering limpets, Ramsons (wild Garlic) hogweed and sorrel for  our dinner. We set some night lines for fish and put in a tap for some birch sap which would hopefully be the makings of our breakfast the next morning. We also did some  flint knapping. It was a really enjoyable weekend made especially good by the company and a lot of laughter emanated  from our camp as the stories flew. Here are a few of the picts we took enjoy!

Evenings food cooking.

Mr Miniss in bed with a contented look on his face even though he had the flu!

Some of the early morning sights in Carnfunnock.

Foraged food

Stuarts wild Garlic butter, you have seen it here first!

Foraged Limpets sauteing in Stuarts Wild Garlic butter!

Captured Chorizo sausages(very hard to catch) and Stuarts Wild Garlic Butter Limpets.

Andy savoring the aroma of Stuarts Wild Garlic butter limpets!

Stuart enjoying the fruits of his labour.

Anto unsure but having a taste.

Anto ensnares Stuart with his pheasant berry stalk flute music.

Soon we are all under his spell!

So there is nothing for it but a bit of musical fox walking!

A great weekend was had by all heres to many more like it to come cheers lads!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

An Afternoon in the sun

I had the chance for a quick walk around Carnfunnock Country Park in Larne the Base of the NIBA. Had the camera and took a couple of snaps.

Ever Had the feeling you were being watched?

Do you see him now?

There he is, a Grey squirrel basking in the afternoon sun!

Someone has been busy in the NIBA demonstration area! Its good to see all the shelter building courses are paying off it seems the kids visiting the park make great use of the resources.