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”!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Eurus Doesn't Come To The Party?

Filey's ringing week started this weekend so fingers were crossed, but Eurus the Greek God of the East wind just didn't want to play ball. To the degree where on Sunday they made the decision to postpone it for a few days. Not only were the westerlies not helping in the slightest, the wind was so strong the risk of the mist nets getting damaged was just too high. This handsome male Great Spotted Woodpecker was the bird of note during my time with the ringing team.

My thanks go to Chris the ringer, who's hand took a barrage of abuse whilst letting me take a photo! Apparently 'Pecker Rash' is the official term when a woodpecker's gone to town on your hand! Miss Piggy took some convincing though that I'd put a ring on a woodpecker's leg when I once got pecker rash on a stag do in Amsterdam?

Having enjoyed the previous Skua and Shearwater Cruise so much, mainly helped by a Sabine's Gull, I decided another trip, the last of the season, could easily be fitted in. It also looked like I wasn't going to miss much at Filey Country Park either? It was another superb trip. Three skua species were seen Arctic, Great and Pomarine with Little and Mediterranean being the pick of the gulls.

Gannets were never far away for the entire trip.

Pomarine Skua

Great Skua

A mixture of Herring Gull and Great Backed Gull of all age groups hung around for the fish bits being thrown overboard, to try and lure in an opportunistic skua

This juvenile Great Black Backed Gull actually looks dead! The photo captured it shaking excess water off after it had dived in for scraps!

A Kittewake trying to get in on the action whilst avoiding the bigger gulls.

A number of Redwing were on the move, migrating over the North Sea, with one poor individual getting picked off by a Herring Gull a mile or so from land. Spare a thought for these two though. A male Chaffich and Meadow Pipit flying perilously close to the waves and spray, avoiding the gulls, into a strong headwind. Sunday was probably the fist time I've wanted to shout at a bird! A 'go on're nearly there...keep going' was just what the moment needed. Having seen it first hand, miles from land in the wake of another bird being unfortunately killed, my admiration for these birds making the crossing has risen ten fold.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Pectoral Sandpiper

Given that this little beauty was first found nearly two weeks ago it's only now Ive been able to get these photos online! My computer has been to see the doctor, due to a virus? A virus from one of my subscription sites, so tomorrow morning the support staff at Birdguides and Big Black Naturals will be getting a piece of my mind.

In the past I have mocked phrases such as 'showing well but distant' so when I read that a Pectoral Sandpiper was 'showing well' on the main lake at Pugneys my first thought was 'how could this be'? A bird with any sense whatsoever stays well clear of the main lake at Pugneys as it's like Walthamstow dog track. Fair enough the birds that can swim out of the way do so, but anything feeding on the fringes surely can't stay for long? And surely can't be showing well? It will be a bag of nerves! The dogs will have scared it off long before I get there?

Showing well was an understatement! I honestly couldn't believe how confiding this bird was. It was feeding obliviously, at times 3 or 4 metres away. It was actually one of the best hours birding I can remember. Not only that, the weather was superb.

Given how it seemed to prefer the company of humans and it's reluctance to fly, I am not against the idea that due to the physicality's of being blown of it's migration course, it kept humans at an arms length to avoid predators while it recharged it's battery?