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, 5 January 2011

New Year

Well I can’t believe it has been a year since my first post! And judging by the hit counter, someone must be reading it? With just over 3000 hits to date, my Mum has admitted to 2995 of them, so I would like to personally thank the five or so other people who have taken time out to have a quick read. Hopefully I can count on your support in 2011! This year will hopefully see much of the same, birding both local and afar, tongue in cheek reports and a fresh year list.

A foggy start to the year

The only thing I will be changing for the coming year will be the actual bird’s names on the list i.e Gannet to Northern Gannet etc. I don’t know how, but my shit jokes and deranged imagination have attracted followers from abroad, hence the bird names going international!! Hopefully I can get one or two new names on it too. In 2008 I wiped the slate clean and started a Yorkshire and UK list from scratch, mainly due to taking a few years out to concentrate on women, drinking and sport, and losing all my previous records! I did find a scribbled year list from when I was about 10 years old but entries such as Bar Headed Goose at Newmiller Dam and Black Swan at Fairburn Ings may not have referred to genuine vagrants? So at least my current lists leave me plenty of room for improvement in 2011 and the forthcoming years.

Ruddy Turnstone


Juvenile Greater Black Backed Gull

After a great Christmas we spent the New Year in Filey, I got to go birding, Miss Piggy got a lie in and Junior had the run of the sea front on her new bike, so all in all everyone was a winner. I got one or two nice birds on the list too. It seems strange but due to returning home after dark on the Monday and two subsequent days at work, I haven’t actually seen a Great Tit! Yet I’ve managed to see Red Necked Grebe, Velvet Scoter and two diver species?

Black Headed Gull

Herring Gull

Those certainly were the highs from the last few days, but the lows were flushing a Woodcock on the 31st but failing miserably the next day and missing the Iceland Gull in Scarborough Harbour completely. Sanderling’s charging around the car park by the Lifeboat Station and Holbeck’s wintering Mediterranean Gulls were a little compensation though.

Mediterranean Gull

An afternoon in Scarborough was the only time we left Filey out of the four days, so other than that, all my birding so far this year has been in the Sea Watching Hide, on the Brigg and Country Park or at the Dams. It’s been great too. Overcast quite a lot of the time and at points very cold by the sea but all in all very pleasant.

Purple Sandpiper

Great Northern Diver

I had to feel sorry for one poor photographer whom along with his partner, slightly mistimed their return from the Brigg and unfortunately got cleaned up to the knees with an incoming wave. It’s a trudge back to the car park anyway, nevermind with wet shoes and jeans. They appeared to see the funny side though.

Mallards - Waiting for the thaw at Filey Dams

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