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”!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A Few Days Off

With the cricket out of the way, thought I best post something bird related!

In an attempt to keep the youngster entertained this summer holiday we enjoyed a few days in Filey last week. The weather wasn’t up to much but I suppose it beats being at work.

Over the duration I managed to sneak in a few hours birding in here and there, visiting Wykeham Forest, Bempton Cliffs, Flamborough Head and Hornsea Mere. My trip to Wykeham Forest was in the hope of seeing a Honey Buzzard from the designated viewpoint but it was very quiet, mainly I think due to the overcast conditions. I did see a Goshawk though. A few guys hit on a distant bird of prey which they were sure was a Honey Buzzard but the views I had of the bird were non conclusive. There are Common Buzzards regularly in that area too and the range this bird was at I would be guessing if I said it was a Honey Buzzard.

My trip to Flamborough was to do a bit of sea watching, I got there quite early and enjoyed clear blue skies for the couple of hours I was there. I got my chair and scope set up and basically just relaxed. Kittewakes and Gannets were moving in large numbers with the odd Fulmar thrown in but the number of species seen was quite low, the wind direction was wrong though, pushing them out rather than pulling them in. The highlights for the morning were 30 Common Scoters and a single Great Skua all going north.

My chair and scope poised for a few hours sea watching, it was that warm I even took my shirt off! Birding at its most relaxed!

With gloomy but fairly warm afternoons we were always searching for things to do away from the beach and seen as we had already done the rides and arcades in Scarborough we decided to take junior to Bempton again as she’d enjoyed it so much the previous visit. The cliffs were much quieter with only Gannets, Kittewake and Fulmar left. Small rafts of Puffin congregated on the sea and a Corn Bunting sang its heart out from the stubble fields.



A nicely marked juvenile Kittewake

This ominous silhouette is a juvenile Peregrine just as it tucked up to stoop on Kittewakes coming in from the sea. Unbelievably entertaining in a morbid way.

The only other place I visited over the few days was Hornsea Mere, a regular haunt at this time of year for Little Gull and it didn’t disappoint either. There were five individuals present mixing with the Black headed Gulls, the number gradually builds during the day as birds come into roost. A local birder said that between 15 and 20 had been present the last week or so but numbers later in the year have been known to rise to around the 800 mark.

Little Gull

Common Terns getting a rest in on their journey south.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Seawatching at Flamborough, looks to me as if you were not in the best spot (for seawatching as opposed to sun bathing). Go to the right of the lighthouse, climb the fence and follow the path down to the ledge (large ledge), sheltered (on the whole) at the best height and usually some expert help on hand too.

    Nice pix, I especially like the Filey one.

    Little Gull numbers at Hornsea can get into the 1000s, late in the evening a bit later in the year, an amazing sight.