So why the Shat Birder?

I got a bit of stick for calling my blog The Shat Birder and contrary to the jibes it is not a description! Shat is actually (believe it or not) the local name for the village in which I have lived all my life, Skelmanthorpe.
Skelmanthorpe is on the outskirts of Huddersfield and in the 1870’s during the construction of the railway line (which is now Kirklees Light Railway), local unskilled labourers were drafted in to chip away at the rock that would later carve out Shelley Tunnel. These local lads were nicknamed stone “Shatterers” by the Irish navvies who had been employed to lay the line. The taunting from these “foreigners” actually ended in a 200 man mass brawl, which saw one of the Irish workers getting part of his ear bitten off! It was this incident that coined the phrase “Shat lug oyl biter” which when translated from broad Yorkshire is basically “Skelmanthorpe Ear Hole Nibbler”. Since then though, nearly 140 years on, Skelmanthorpe is still known as Shat! And all its inhabitants by the abbreviated “Shatters”!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Holme Valley

I should have been out Birding for most of the day on Saturday but unfortunately spent the whole morning with Miss Piggy in A&E getting her mouth reopened. Naturally like all things that go wrong in our house it was my fault and until a time machine is invented we will probably never find out the truth. She’s adamant she asked for her Lipstick passing, whereas I’m more than 100% confident she asked for Prit Stick? The drive to the hospital was bliss though, every cloud…………..

I decided in the end on a walk along the river through Holmfirth, having not seen a Dipper this year it seemed a good way to get another name on the 2010 list. It wasn’t long either before I got my first glimpse when three individuals sped past up the river closely followed by a female Grey Wagtail. They naturally seemed to favour areas that were out of reach to the public so I always seemed to be watching them from a distance, except for the odd fly by. Three drake Mandarins mingled with Mallards on the stretch of river by the Co-op in the centre. Although they are un-ringed, I am always dubious about the origins of these birds so I won’t be adding them to the list. They seemed very confiding, suggesting they may be escapes? Maybe not? It’s actually a sad fact that there are now more Mandarin’s in Britain than in their native Japan! Escapes or not though, there is no detracting away from how stunning they are.

I had provisionally thought I might have a trip out on Sunday and check out somewhere a bit further a field. That was until I actually woke up on Sunday morning! Miss Piggy and me had hit Shat cricket club for a birthday party on Saturday night which unfortunately turned into a 4am lager frenzy. I was going well up until 1am but sadly my condition deteriorated as I slumped to an all time low when I found myself dancing to Hey Macarena with an unbuttoned shirt. You know you’re pissed when you say hi to your reflection in the mirror in the toilets? Miss Piggy was on red alert too as I have been known in the past to wet the bed once inebriated! Fortunately I had a dry night, which was a relief, as a week after my last accident the bedroom smelt like a Hamster cage. I was awoken by a phone call to go out for a stroll with the Shat Kennel Club – a few of my mates who take their dogs out every weekend. Even though I don’t have a dog I may get kicked out if they read this, as the first rule of Kennel Club is you do not talk about Kennel Club? I actually went on the walk as I thought the fresh air might perk me up. I could feel every heart beat in my head and my mouth was like a tray of cat litter, I dug deep and like John Rambo, ignored the pain. We walked from Skelmanthorpe to Stocksmoor, eventually meeting the “better halves” at the Clothiers Arms to tuck into a well-deserved Sunday dinner.

The highlight of the walk on the birding front was the addition of Little Owl to the list, which takes me to 102. Skelmanthorpe hosts a Little Owl family which has used the same site for decades and I have watched them there from being a boy so it’s almost checking up on them. They seem to be doing well. You can’t do much bird watching though with three rampaging dogs and three dog owners who all think they are Ceasar Millan! I did see Helmeted Guinea Fowl!

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