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”!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Garden Wildlife

Despite visiting Blacktoft Sands last Sunday, these photos are my latest outing with the camera..the garden being the outing! The weather was poor as I parked up at Blacktoft, so I opted to go armed with binoculars and telescope instead, and left the camera behind. Sure enough the sun eventually broke, but with hides packed to the rafters I decided a trudge back to the car would only loose the seat I had waited for? The birding was class! Marsh Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Spoonbill, Bearded Tit..the list goes on! A superb afternoon.

As the weather and temperature has improved these last few days, I could spend the evening hunting wildlife in the garden. Not sure if this is a young Wood Mouse or House Mouse? It gave a good hours entertainment though, in and out of the logs.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hamstead Heath

Well…. apologies to the few who keep checking! The posts have really dried up! The addition to the family and hectic cricket fixtures have meant birding has taken a back seat and the year list has suffered immensely. Hopefully come September I may be able to catch up with a few species I’ve missed on the East Coast. There has been a few ‘local’ goodies too which have caught my eye, but I simply haven’t had the time, most notably, what would have been an after work twitch straight to Old Moor RSPB for the Stone Curlew.

Common Tern

I have however added three new birds to my list when I recently took a ‘non birding’ stroll around Hamstead Heath in London, as part of a long weekend in the big smoke. I say non birding…I mean we went for a walk but I didn’t have my binoculars….not that I was ‘dog walking’ at 4am and accidentally bumped into a few guys, like one or two ‘married’ celebrities have claimed in the past?

It’s a shame that Hampstead Heath is more famous for other stuff than it is the scenery, as it was really nice. Given it was a scorcher, there were plenty if families picnicking, yoga classes etc and people swimming in the designated pools. Once you get off the beaten track though the nature was superb. Plenty of woodpeckers, swallows and swifts and one of the lakes hosted Mandarin with ducklings and a pair of Common Terns which were very confiding, probably used to the vast numbers of carp fishermen lining the banks.

A bonus tick for the year was catching up with a female Ring Necked Parakeet, certainly not a bird I see annually, and it’s normally fleeting views from the car should work ever take me to west side of the M25. Incidentally my first ever record was a flock of 20 or so heading over the motorway near to the Twickenham area which nearly caused a pile up as I hunched on the steering wheel as far forward as possible to look at them go over the car!

Ring Necked Parakeet - a poor record shot!

The weather stayed fine for the entire weekend, which made the weekend in actual fact as the main reason for the visit was two outdoor concerts in Hyde Park. Thursday saw me head nodding away to Mumford and Sons and Arcade Fire whilst Sundays gig was the eagerly awaited comeback for Jarvis Cocker’s, Pulp. It was two hours of solid jumping, finger pointing and singing! Absolute class……naturally, they’re from Yorkshire! At least they let you sing along! You should have seen the looks I got a few years back when I took my Mum to see Pavarotti! Wouldn’t mind, but I know nearly all the words to Nessun Dorma…in a fashion?