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, 30 January 2011


Although icy at first, Saturday shaped up to be a cracking day. I headed out mid morning and racked up a healthy 6 miles around Langsett Reservoir and its surrounding areas, albeit at a very leisurely pace. The bird life was pretty much what you would expect for this time of year with nothing seen that I would class as out of the ordinary. One thing that did surprise me though was the number of Goldcrests seen, flitting around the canopy. They appeared to be thriving given the recent cold snap, you somehow think that the smallest birds would be the first hit by the harsh conditions but this just didn’t seem the case. Siskins were also numerous but never really showed that well, constantly calling but generally always out of view.

One bird that did give itself away was a Treecreeper and not by its call, its claws were grating on the bark as it moved, but the volume of the noise didn’t fit the size of the bird? If I hadn’t of seen it, I would have dismissed it as an evasive Squirrel! Talking of bird calls though, I was alerted to a bird that simply had me scratching my head, I couldn’t see it either. There’s an old bird watching saying that if you don’t know what it is, it’s a Great Tit and after stalking the source of the sound for five minutes in bemusement, it finally showed itself. A Great Tit. So technically I did know what it was!!!

Partly iced over, the reservoir itself looked very inhospitable. Only three Canada Geese and a handful of Mallard were present favouring the fringes of the water with the moorland area having good numbers of Red Grouse but little else. Serious amounts of tree felling have taken place, which are part of long terms plans to make the area more suitable for a variety of woodland birds, so watch this space?

Given that this is just a personal diary of basically just being out doors, I decided to use a Global Positioning System to record the walk. As a trial run I found it quite interesting so will probably us it for future posts? Even if it’s just to look back on in a couple of years time? To view the walk, just click on the link below.


The calories burnt got vanquished in the cafe with a nice slab of Cornflake Cake! Absolute class!

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