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”!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

A Bit of Local Stuff

With nothing planned for the afternoon I decided to head off for a few hours and visit a few differing habitats around the Huddersfield area. The first stop was Holmfirth, Last of the Summer Wine country. I had only been out of the car for a minute or so when the distinctive call alerted me to two Dippers powering down the river. Although they kept their distance they really were great birds to watch, flitting from stone to stone before submerging for a few seconds then flying off again. Very entertaining….if you’re into that sort of thing!

The other highlights were three Goosander and further up the river a pair of Mandarin's mingling with the Mallards.

Male and female Mandarin's

Stunning little ducks, which captivated the children who had stopped to throw bread? I’m always dubious though regarding these birds as although they are not ringed, they just seem too comfortable around people. Whether that’s the influence of the Mallards which have now become accustomed to the hand outs, I’m not sure? But they don’t seem ‘flighty’ in the slightest. I don’t have a vast experience of Mandarin’s but others I have seen seem to avoid humans very much in the same way as other species such as Smew and Goldeneye? That said, given the recent conditions I’m not surprised they are taking advantage of a free meal.

Mallard - Fair enough, the oriental Mandarin has the colour, but the Mallard can be equally as exquisite.

From Holmfirth I headed out towards the moors and was soon parked up at Harden Reservoir for a walk along the tops. Other than a few overhead gulls I think Red Grouse was the only other bird species I saw? This gave me time though to concentrate on my new interest in tracking! I did find a couple of interesting things along the way; I may need some expert advice though to nail identification?

This pellet was next to the remains of what appeared to be a pigeon. The breast areas had been eaten and given the feathered content of the pellet it may have come from a Peregrine?

I will take any offers on this one? Haven't a clue what it could have come from? It looks like mould but it was actually full of white hairs. I wondered if Mountain Hares produce hair balls in a similar way cats do from grooming? Or is that just nonsense!

Red Grouse droppings

Lichen on a memorial stone - not sure why I've put this photo on given it has no relevance to anything mentioned! Just quite liked it?

The final stop on my mini adventure was High Hoyland. A dogleg walk from the church down to Jebb Lane produced a nice little flock of Brambling’s, which were perched in a tree along with Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. A light shower though put an end to a nice afternoon of local birding and I retreated back to the car before it could get heavier. Wimp!

No comments:

Post a Comment