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, 10 May 2010

Cricket 1 - Birding 0

Telling Miss Piggy about my forth-coming cricket fixtures was never going to be easy. First round victories in two-cup competitions, added to the existing league programme had made the next three weekend’s double headers, playing games on both Saturday and Sunday. A punishing and potentially relationship-threatening schedule of matches to say the least! In hind sight I probably did broach the subject the wrong way, phrases like “it’s probably best if you sit down” and “there’s no easy way to say this” may have set her up for a family bereavement rather than my impending cricket fixtures. She took the news fairly well though and in just over an hour we were back speaking. The hour flew as I busied myself with boarding the front window up and taking out the stains my bloodied nose had left on my t-shirt. Removing the word “prick” etched into my car bonnet with a stone took the bulk of the time but all in all a productive morning.

Rother Valley was hosting a Red Rumped Swallow and as much as I fancied it, time just wasn’t on my side so I spent the remainder of the morning checking out a few of the local reservoirs and their adjoining fields. There was a good mix of farmland birds including Curlew, Skylark, Yellowhammer and Lapwing, with the dry stonewalls supporting Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Wheatear.


Brown Hare


The good news is that the Tawny Owls mentioned in an earlier post have at least one chick hatched and I’m fairly confident there was at least one more. It will be a week or so though till they are big enough to be seen, so I can get an exact count on the clutch.

I did have a walk along the River Calder for an hour and chanced upon a nice pair of Common Terns, but due to cold and gloomy conditions I only managed the following pictures. It was a shame too, as a nice blue sky would have lit their plumage up brilliantly; the grey cloud backdrop just doesn’t do them justice. They really are great birds to watch though, I just hope they stick around so I can try again on a better day.

With the next few weekends featuring cricket, cricket and more cricket, future posts may only feature ducks and golden ducks. I am only too familiar with the noise a cricket ball makes as it hits the stumps behind me! I’ll just have to leave it to the others!

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