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, 30 March 2011

Back Out Birding

Well, after a couple of months on the sidelines, Monday night saw the binoculars finally get draped over the neck with a moorland walk planned to take advantage of the extra hour of daylight. It’s been a busy period, with absolutely no birding being done since my last post as Miss Piggy came to the party on February 11th and brought into the world a bouncing baby boy. So it has been all hands on deck. Unfortunately the poor little lad couldn’t come home straight away and had to be expertly doted on in Barnsleys Special Baby Care Unit for nearly three weeks, making days seem to blend into each other, so birding as you can imagine took an obvious back seat. The good news is though he’s home and fighting fit. The biggest concern is surviving the onslaught of cuddles from his big sister, who is nappy changing, feeding and bed time story reading like a trooper.

I let Junior lead the way in a cracking hour or so walk on the moorland fringes. Curlews were plentiful as were Lapwings and the walk was accompanied by chortling Red Grouse and the spiralling flight song of displaying Meadow Pipit’s, which given the recent circumstances and lack of birding was a year tick! As too, a Short Eared Owl quartering the moor and a telegraph pole hugging Little Owl. Great sightings for me but more so for Junior who has a thing for owls.

As good as these were though, a sighting of a partially moulted Mountain Hare took some beating. Mountain Hares were introduced to the Peak District for hunting and remnants still hang on, with this area on Huddersfield’s border being one extreme of their range. It’s not a bad time of year to be out searching for them either as in a few weeks time when they have full summer coats, their colour against the heather will make them virtually undetectable if they remain still.

Meadow Pipit

I don’t know how successful a team we will be, but after adding a Macro lens to the armoury, Junior has taken on the role of finding the subjects. Hopefully in the coming months if the birds don’t play ball we can hopefully get some wildlife shots of the miniature variety?



  1. Congratulations Kris - I've missed reading your blog so get posting will you?

  2. ha ha, cheers Alf. Promise I won't leave it too long!