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, 15 March 2010

Steam Trains and Frozen Tails

This weekend has seen no new additions to the list but a nice bit of patch birding around the various woods and fields that border Skelmanthorpe. I’m still frantically waiting to unearth that British first but unfortunately this weekend it wasn’t to be. I did stumble upon a Cockatiel a few years ago but my submission to the British Birds Rarities Committee was unbelievably rejected! Significant points proving this bird was a genuine vagrant seemed to get overlooked,

a) The Cockatiel was un-ringed!
b) The wind direction had been right all week!
c) I actually heard it say the word “Bonzer” in a distinct aussie accent!

What more do the BBRC want?

My usual walk basically takes in the Kirklees Light Railway area anywhere from Shelley to Clayton West and although there was nothing too out of the ordinary the birdlife was still very good. I had glimpses of a male Sparrowhawk, a chattering Green Woodpecker and a covey of Grey Partridge. The sighting that really pleased me though was a single Tree Sparrow, a few years ago you were very hard pressed to locate this bird in this area around Skelmanthorpe, slowly but surely they are starting to colonise it again. Other highlights were Siskin, Yellowhammer, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Bullfinch.

Tree Sparrow



Black Headed Gull

The following picture is actually the steam of the train rising as it enters the mouth of Shelley Tunnel, quite eerie.

The Shat Kennel Club had planned a walk with a difference for Sunday morning, which was teeing off at 8-30am. How the challenge had arisen I don’t know but the sheer stubbornness of the idiots in question meant that no one was backing down. They had to walk our normal route, which runs from Blacker Wood in Skelmanthorpe to the Junction Inn at Clayton West, but this time in the river. It looked freezing. There was no way I was getting in. I have to say that elements of the river were actually deeper than I thought making the whole experience for me, very amusing.

A combination of approaching pneumonia and shrivelled scrotums meant the challenge was aborted just over half way. It made for a long and miserable walk home.

1 comment:

  1. Two good looking "Hard as Nails" lads pic!