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, 11 October 2010

Ringing Week

Miss Piggy had made it clear earlier in the week that I may as well not exist come the weekend. With ‘girly’ things planned on both days and the start of the shit factor live shows coupled with Strictly Come Dancing, I was neither going to see them nor get the TV at any point come 6:30pm. Filey then! I had already had my appetite whet earlier in the week by Ian Robinson, a Filey birder who was in town giving a talk on Sea Birds of the Southern Oceans for The Huddersfield Birdwatching Club, and thoroughly enjoyable it was too.

Filey’s ringing week was to start, heightening the chances of something rarer being found and a quick look on the Met Office website suggested the winds could conjure up a biggy? I set off late morning on Saturday, getting up to the ringing area around 2-00pm. Ian incidentally was the first person I bumped into, and he quickly alerted me to a Radde’s Warbler sighting from earlier in the day. It hadn’t been seen for a few hours, but plenty of birders had now congregated and were spread out around a 10m x 50m area of scrub just north of the caravan park. It was very dense in places giving the bird, if it wanted, plenty of cover. Now I don’t have a self found list and to be fair this wouldn’t get itself on there, but if I had a ‘re-found’ list this would be top of the pile. I was the lucky sole to find it again! I had wandered away from the building numbers of birders, just to have a look in another area, and guess what I found! A Radde’s Warbler! In a clump of nettles, fly catching from the stems! Some vigorous hand gestures and pointing alerted the only other person in view - a local Filey birder, to its location, which he duly put out on the walkie-talkies. As he approached it showed well for us both, for a matter of seconds, before alighting in front of another birder approaching from another direction, giving off three sharp “takk” notes, then ditching into some undergrowth. Excitement over though, as for the remainder of the weekend it showed in ten second bursts for the few lucky ones who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Many many birders were led a merry dance and from the general feeling it seemed more missed out than actually saw it, I was one of the lucky handful.

The ringers had been kept busy too, processing over 300 birds in the two days I was there. Goldcrest’s and Robin’s were everywhere! Redwing’s tumbled out of the sky and small flocks of Brambling's crashed into the trees. An awesome sight!


Garden Warbler


Meadow Pipit

A great sighting was a Jack Snipe coming in off the sea onto the country park, which was shouted out by a small group of guys who were still holding out for the Radde’s Warbler. My sincere thanks; as without the tip off it would have completely passed me by un-noticed?


Song Thrush



A feeding flock of Siskin which must have kept me captivated for the best part of an hour.

It wasn’t just the Radde’s Warbler though that was causing a stir, the ringers had trapped and rung a Yellow Browed Warbler which never got relocated after its release and a Pallas’s Warbler had also been found in the area known as Church Ravine. Both birds evaded myself and many more in the hunt, I couldn’t get too down heartened though given the sightings that I’d had of the other birds this weekend.


  1. Sounds like a great weekend, however I note Lapland Bunting has evaded you up to now!

  2. Yeah you beat me hands down on that front! And self found! I'm going to start following you!!! Try and get in on some of those rarities. It was a great find for Huddersfield. Nevermind Lapland Buntings anyway, I haven't seen a Lesser Redpoll yet this year?! Can I hire you as a local guide ha ha

  3. Thank's Kirkstall Creatures. The top and bottom Goldcrest pictures are the same bird, it had just been rung. When they released it, it flew about 5 yards and just hung there trying to peck it's ring off! Wasn't bothered about me being there in the slightest, hence getting so close. Those two pictures were the only ones where it was actually looking up! I had loads of the back of it's head as it was getting stuck into the ring! Must be quite a shock for them at first?