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, 18 April 2010

Out & About

Being trapped last weekend in cockney land meant I couldn’t get up to Cheesegate Nab to see the Ring Ouzels and Friday evening was my first chance all week. Sadly no Ring Ouzels but a cracking sunset coupled with glorious weather made it a very enjoyable hour. Willow Warblers seemed to be singing from every bush and Swallows weaved through the sky, on a nice night it really is a great place to be.

Willow Warbler

Birding in the summer months unfortunately gets reduced to just Saturday and Sunday mornings, due to playing cricket, so I tend to stay local and check out the local reservoirs. This Saturday morning saw a quick drive up to Ingbirchworth where a nice Common Sandpiper added tick number two for the weekend as it fed on the dam wall.

Common Sandpiper

I also took a walk up to Broadstones in the hope of bagging a Wheatear but true to form it wasn’t to be. With time on my hands I thought one last look at Cheesegate Nab may come up trumps for either Ring Ouzel or Wheatear, but I failed miserably. That’s birding for you! We got hammered at cricket too, so not a good day. To say that some forecasters were predicting snow, whether Iceland’s eruption played some part or not I don’t know? Weather and temperature wise though, this is the best start to a cricket season I can remember. This reflected in the scores too, Honley posted a massive 335 for 6 and we (Skelmanthorpe) fell 30 short finishing on 305 for 6. 640 runs scored on the opening day of the season is just unheard of. Let’s hope this weather is a sign of things to come.


Whilst out on Saturday I chanced upon a Tawny Owl nest at one of the sites so I will do my best to visit fairly regularly and keep posting updates as to how they get on. There is a slight incline too which gives a bit of a vantage point so I may be able to get some decent pictures once the chicks start to emerge? This photo at least shows how well their markings keep them concealed; if it weren’t for the white stripes on the crown this bird would be virtually invisible.

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