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”!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Back Out And About

Well it has been a month or so but this weekend I finally laid the cricket season to rest and finally got back out there. Thought I’d ease myself back in with a run out to Old Moor. I had a good couple of hours too. I managed to pick out 4 Curlew Sandpiper, feeding in a fairly secluded area, and 2 Spotted Redshanks resting on a spit. The big challenge though was to sift through numbers of Teal to find a juvenile Garganey. I had to wave the white flag in the end and admit defeat. I’m fairly confident if it was still there it was one of the birds asleep by the waters edge. I must have checked every bird on the water ten times, it became like a magic eye picture, and the more I stared the more I started to see things! Just not a Garganey!

If I’ve learnt one thing though this weekend, it’s that I need to brush up on Dragonflies and Damselflies. They were buzzing around the paths to the hides and in most cases offering good photo opportunities, but a book is needed I think? When it comes to nature I am always up for broadening my horizons so will get swatting and hopefully strengthen this chink in my armoury! Like a fool I walked obliviously past the bookshelves on my way out where I’m sure there would have been a book to answer all my questions? I will post the photos anyway but will welcome any identification advice. Think one of them is a Common Darter but that’s as far as I’m prepared to stick my neck out?

Not sure what this is either?

Red Admiral

After that I headed to the area of Langsett where the pair of Black Redstarts had been seen a few days before, I hung around for an hour or so but the windy conditions made sure I was always against it so I came away windswept and empty handed, anything with a brain would have been out of the way sheltering. Plenty of Meadow Pipits and Swallows went over but other than that it was fairly quiet.



Time was still on my hands and apart from the wind it was a very nice day so I decided upon a lap of Scout Dike before returning home. Again, not a vast amount of birds but a pair of Greenshank and a Yellow Wagtail made up the quality where the quantity was lacking.

A juvenile Pied Wagtail

A record shot of the Yellow Wagtail which was loosely associating with its pied cousins.

Scout Dike


  1. Post your dragonfly and damselfly pics on the Huddersfield BC forum and you'll quickly get some id advice.

    I'm not good on these either but would recommend "Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of GB and Ireland" by Steve Brooks. RSPB or Amazon (cheaper) will supply a copy.

    Alf King

  2. I got drown in to Dragonflies late this year and I am loving every minute of it hope you do too. The top to me looks like a Male Ruddy Darter told by the nice red colour and the pinched in abdomen giving it a club tail like appearance with reddish pterostigmas [dark marks on wings]. The middle one is a Common Darter [age/sex??] and the bottom is a Male Emerald Damselfly, all common at this time of year. Hope this helps

    > Huddsbirder

  3. That helps immensely. Many thanks both of you. You learn something new every day! The book is ordered Alf so I will get revising when it comes. Hopefully I can track down a few more species and take it from there. 2011 could see the start of a life list!!!

  4. Pterostigmas is a great word too! Very prehistoric, I like it!

  5. Hi, entertaining read. You could also have a look at