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”!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A Run Around

With no game of golf planned and Huddersfield Town away, I said I would pick my dad up at 11-00am for a bit of a run around. As I was wide-awake at 7-00am I thought I would sneak a quick walk in at High Hoyland first. The finch numbers are somewhat down from last year with a complete absence of Lesser Redpoll, certainly on my visits this year anyway. A single female Brambling was the highlight along with Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the church grounds.

We had decided the day before to have a run down to Clumber Park, a place we try and visit once a year. It was very quiet though on the bird front. Hawfinch, which can be occasionally found there are chance sightings at best, but today, we were completely out of luck. A few Goldcrest flitting around the canopy at least got me a year tick so we didn’t come away empty handed, Marsh Tit were showing well around all the feeding stations too. It made for a good couple of hours but if anything it was too busy

We left with the intention of calling somewhere on the way back, I had fancied trying to catch up with the Red Necked Grebe, which had been present at Wintersett for the last couple of weeks. I think it was just one of those days though as when we arrived birders were struggling to relocate the bird as the sailing club had someone out smashing the ice with an oar, trying to free up the launching area. This had caused a handful of Great Crested Grebe to take off so whether the Red Necked was with them who knows? I came away with the consolation of Green Woodpecker to add to the list. We parked up to view an area known by the locals as the Lower Water, but a few scans with the telescope couldn’t produce the Red Necked Grebe, two redhead Smew’s were present though. At 4pm it then became mad dash time, a report of a Great White Egret at Bretton Lakes gave us enough incentive to try and find the bird before the gates closed at 5-30pm. The mission got completed after a power walk back to the car to find the security guard waiting for us so he could lock up. We found the Egret on the bank opposite the hide but could only really view it from a distance. The island that the hide looks onto completely concealed the bird. I thought about returning this morning to see if it was showing any better, which was until I pulled back the curtains to find yet more snow!

With the car safely on the drive and birding on hold, an invite for a mornings stroll with the Shat Kennel Club seemed the only way to beat the cabin fever. The walk through Blacker Wood was very pleasant once the snow had stopped falling and a nice flock of Siskin put the icing on the cake.

The view from the garden this afternoon looks ominous to say the least!

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