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”!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Fairburn Ings

Firstly Happy Christmas, I hope everyone got what they wanted! I feel like I’ve put on about three stone over the last week. It’s just been eating, drinking, Ashes Cricket and World Championship Darts, with a few nature documentaries thrown in, but isn’t that what Christmas is all about? A few long walks are going to be on the menu, to burn off the effects of the festivities. Unfortunately, due to a hectic lead up to Christmas, birding has taken a slight back seat but the fire was rekindled on Christmas morning when a few bird books got unwrapped! Come January 1st I should be fully recharged and firing on all cylinders with the list reset at zero.

Just quickly going back to the nature documentaries, this may come across as a bit of a rant but whilst watching a re-run of Life, the BBC’s flagship series of nature programmes, I was amazed to discover a creature called the Fried Egg Jellyfish. The resemblance was uncanny, but Fried Egg! Come on. Surely there’s something more respectful than that? I actually feel sorry for the Jellyfish! And there’s something I thought I would never actually say! How is thousands of years evolution rewarded by the name Fried Egg? I can only think that the pinnacle of any Naturalist’s career is to discover a new species. And let’s be fair, Marine Biologists have a very high chance of doing this with such vast areas of ocean still to be discovered and the ground breaking technology to assist them. But as pulses race at the possibility of unearthing a world first, who then decides to call it Fried Egg! It’s as though they’ve had a party at Scarborough Sea Life Centre and done a guess the name of the Jellyfish competition for the kids.

I just hope these jokers don’t find anything else! For the animals sake! It’s a good job the majestic Orangutan has already been discovered. If these clowns had have found it, it could have been the Baked Bean Monkey or something?

Rant over.


The only birding I’ve done recently was a run out to Fairburn Ings, which saw me doubling up with my equally bored Dad. He was suicidal after Towns home defeat to Hartlepool so needed to get out of the house, so asked if I fancied a run out to Fairburn. Anyone who is familiar with Fairburn Ings will know the Village Bay area, and that’s where we started, we knew it would be frozen but felt the river may be worth checking out. Upon parking up we were met by two fire engines and two police cars. Why? You may be thinking, and so were we? The answer left us both in sheer disbelief. A family had decided to go for a walk on the ice! This was seen and reported to the emergency services by one of the residents whose garden looks out over the bay. We were just shaking our heads? Its one thing to do something that stupid, yet take a child with you is utter madness! Fortunately they made it back un-harmed, yet when confronted by the Police and Fire Crew’s, they couldn’t understand the “fuss” that was being made!


That aside, the birding remained to be as expected. Good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing were overhead, with Song Thrush and Blackbird feeding in the bushes. Sadly, one of the Mute Swan’s, which were now confined to a small area of ice-free water, along with various other species, had succumbed to the conditions, and perished. A sad sight. Yet a visible reminder of the elements taking its toll, with even the largest of British birds suffering. The river held Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe along with plenty of Cormorant and Gooseander which were all taking advantage of the ice free waters.



The feeders near the visitors centre were also busy, with Chaffinch and Goldfinch mingling with Great and Blue Tit. The pick of the birds had to be a brief visit from a Willow Tit and a flash of brilliant blue from a Kingfisher, stunning birds! Tree Sparrow’s were also plentiful with Dunnock and Pheasants doing the hoovering up on the floor.


I even made it into the shop and only purchased a drink, which for me is unbelievable! I can’t remember the last time I went to a reserve and didn’t come away with a magazine at least. Must be getting tight in my old age! That, or I’d got most of the books already?


No comments:

Post a Comment