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, 26 July 2010

East Coast

An untimely sporting injury to my foot provided me with a cricket free weekend and a rare summer opportunity to get out in the field and do some birding. It also gave me an excuse to get over to the East coast and try and catch up with the King Eider that has been hanging around the Brigg for a couple of weeks. Friends of ours were also making the trip, but heading there via Spurn Point on the Saturday so I eagerly tagged along, although bird wise I always knew it was going to be quiet, and quiet it was. A healthy number of butterflies graced the point along with an obliging Roe Deer while Little Terns relayed from fishing expeditions from sea to lagoon. A nice find were four Sandwich Terns feeding close in, providing me with at least one year tick for the day. It will be another few months or so till Spurn Point starts hotting up so I’m sure another visit will be on the cards later this year.

Common Blue

Common Frog

Just let me sleep!

Juvenile Black Headed Gull

Common Seal

A colony of Sand Martin's which are nesting on the side of the Brigg

Fortunately the King Eider waited for me! To be fair it may be around for a while anyway as it is coming into moult. The in joke amongst the Filey birders is that it could yet turn out to be a hybrid!!! Thought I best ‘insurance’ tick it to be on the safe side! Due to it’s positioning on the rocks I got decent views through the scope but photo wise it was fair to say they were crap. I’m going to try again in a few weeks so hopefully I can do a bit better. To say this is a birding blog, this last week has produced very few photographs of birds! What I do have is a collection of black dots bobbing on the sea and trust me, one of them is a King Eider, the photos wouldn’t stand up in court though. This photo at least shows the difference in size and pinky orange tinge to the beak. Still a cracking tick! Just for the record, it's second from the left on the water! It's so bad when you have to describe where a bird is on one of your photos!!! Might have to click on it to enlarge it!!!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Rutland Water

The birthday bash of a relocated school friend saw us donning fancy dress and hitting Market Harborough this weekend. I’d love to say I had a cracking night but a combination of ‘silly’ shots and cocktails saw my condition rapidly deteriorate around the 1am mark leaving the last hour a blur. I could have done with a black box recorder to help piece the night together?
On Sunday morning I was poor to say the least, so fresh air and a stroll were the order of the day, this came in the shape of Rutland Water. Rutland Water in recent years has seen the reintroduction of Ospreys with the programme itself being a huge success. Two breeding pairs are now in the area, with one nest viewable from a series of hides within the Lyndon Nature Reserve. Sixty Four Ospreys were released at Rutland Water between 1996 and 2001 with around ten of these birds returning. This year’s pair has successfully raised three chicks which can’t be far off fledging? One of the birds released here has already had six successful broods at a reservoir in Wales, with a Scottish born female, so the expansion is taking effect, albeit year by year. It was also a sad fact to learn that around 70% of juveniles die in their first year with the bulk of this statistic perishing on their migration back to Africa. With £18m from Anglian Water though, money and time is on side to hopefully dramatically increase the English and Welsh populations, so fingers crossed.

The views today were distant with the sheer size of Rutland Water sadly meaning they were always going to be. The three chicks could be seen through the scope, with the watchful adult close by. It took to flight twice whilst we were there with the following photo’s being the best I could do, nothing more than record shots really.

Still a great couple of hours though and the paths between the hides gave me a good opportunity to photograph some of the various species of Butterfly on show.




Small Tortoiseshell

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Another Skelmanthorpe Lifer

Tuesday night had the not so rare treat of watching our Indian cricketing genius Wasim Jaffer amass yet another century, this time putting Thongsbridge CC to the sword in the Examiner 20/20 competition. As I was sat padded up awiating my bat though, a flock of 10 Crossbills flew over the clubhouse! Their distinct call making my ears prick up and alerting me to their presence. I've never seen Crossbills in Skelmanthorpe before ever? They came from the Bretton direction, straight over the club, then on towards the windmills at Ingbirchworth. No doubt heading towards the Langsett area? The only place I have ever seen them locally. Not entirely sure where they could have come from, maybe one of the wooded areas to the south of Bretton Lakes? Possibly a dispersed feeding flock on it's return to Langsett to roost? Either way, a great sighting in Skelmanthorpe!