I’ve genuinely missed writing my blog of late – but every time I’ve come close to starting a post I’ve been flooded with the realisation that I can’t face up to writing about what I’m mulling over in my head.
At this point in the proceedings I tend to shut down, close off and move instead to other diversionary pursuits. These are temporary fixes that take my mind off what’s truly going in inside my head – and I’m acutely aware that they aren’t really the way forward.
In the long term all this behaviour manages to do is lead to a state of emotional constipation.
That may sound dramatic but I can’t think of any other way to describe how not writing makes me feel.
There’s still a lot that I don’t really want to put down on the page at the moment though – but not blogging anything at all clearly is not working for me. I can feel the cumulative physical and mental weight of it building every day – so here I am – once again sitting in front of WordPress with itchy trigger fingers.
On the plus side my house is alive with visitors at the moment and currently these provide me with plenty to write about because for the last few months I’ve been wondering why the wheelie bin outside my front door was becoming increasingly plastered with more and more bird shit.
It’s absolutely caked with avian crap at the moment.
For a while I thought it was because below the bin there’s a swarming ants nest – and I assumed that it was this readily available food source that had attracted the birds. I reckoned that (after a hefty meal) the sparrows would unburden themselves prior to takeoff – and it was this behaviour that was making my bin look so unappealing.
I’ve been at war with the ants for years.
Thoughts of their demise filled me with delight.
They’ve survived kettle after kettle of boiling water and for some reason (despite the obvious dangers of sharing their space with me) still march relentlessly under my front door. No amount of stamping, swatting or boiling water has deterred them.
The ants’ usual routine is to traipse through my hall, along the entire length of my kitchen, under the back door, out into the garden, collect some leaves or random fluff and then saunter back to the underside of bin at the front of my house.
I was really hopeful that these ravenous sparrows would solve my ant problem with zero effort on my part.
However – despite all the bird shit – the little sods were completely unmolested.
The industrious legions of marching creatures were still at full strength and it wasn’t until my other half and I returned home from shopping a couple of weeks ago that we saw why.
As we unloaded the bags from the car I noticed a solitary female sparrow peacefully basking in the sunshine on the guttering directly over the bin.
By the time I’d made my way to the front door with the first two carriers I noticed that a male sparrow had arrived and was sitting on the roof tiles looking down at the rather alluring bird on the gutter below.
As we continued back and forth carrying the shopping to the front door it hopped onto the guttering nearby and stood about 10cm to the right of the female sparrow.
She looked the other way.
The male sparrow appeared undeterred. He jumped back up onto the roof again, this time hopping around her in a perfect semi circle until he was once again on the guttering – but now he was standing 10cm to the left of her.
She still looked the other way.
Mr sparrow repeated this process continuously for a few minutes as we watched – swapping from left to right in an effort to catch her eye.
The amorous little fellow was clearly engaged in some kind of courtship dance. and continued his hopping pattern back and forth until the object of his intentions gave in and looked him directly in the eye.
She’d acknowledged him!
Without any further ado Mr sparrow immediately hopped onto the back of Mrs sparrow – and after several attempts to balance (with some ungainly grabbing and flapping) he finally found the perfect spot.
It was an impregnation station.
(insert pictures of sparrows smoking cigarettes on my guttering)
After an appropriate few seconds of reassuring ‘don’t worry – I’ll call you’ glances to Mrs sparrow, Mr sparrow (looking supremely relaxed) flew off into the distance.
Mrs sparrow (looking maybe a tiny bit underwhelmed at how the few seconds had panned out) then proceeded to unload the contents of her bowels on my bin.
It suddenly clicked into place.
Every single bird plop represented sparrow coitus.
Whether the bomb bay doors opening is a passive aggressive statement about partner performance or simply an involuntary undercarriage reaction remains unclear. However – regardless of the cause the act clearly has a laxative effect – and I know this because we’ve since seen the same behaviour (and results) a couple of times.
I’m so convinced of this causal relationship that I’ve taken to looking up before I exit my front door just in case gravity is about to deliver a ‘post sexy time’ parcel to me.
Probably because of this behaviour in our drain based knocking shop, birds are wonderfully abundant in our garden at the moment.
Although if I’m honest I think their tendency to spend time having fun in this manner (rather than looking for grubs and worms) has got a lot to do with my partner feeding them on an almost industrial scale.
They’re practically falling out of the trees with their bulging waistlines at the moment, and I swear some of the smaller pigeons used to be sparrows…
I have long had a bird feeder with space for three fat balls hanging from a post in my garden – but since my other half has been working from home (and enjoying the sights and sounds of the garden) she has bought more and more feeding paraphernalia.
We now have space for six fat balls, two huge loose seed dispensers and several (currently removed thanks to hefty pigeons) bird baths.
The birds are all over this plentiful banquet.
The population of our little avian friends has consequently rocketed – and the dawn chorus in the morning (whilst absolutely delightful) is at times deafening. I’ve not needed an alarm clock for a long time.
Mostly because my partner insists on converting her wages into bird poo the benefits are everywhere to be seen.
There are however other visitors that she’s not so keen on – and these also like bird seed.
A couple of months ago (upon returning home late one night in the dark) we turned the light on in the hall and my other half screamed out loud with surprise.
A mouse was sitting by the skirting in the hall, and as soon as the lights went on it scrambled past me looking for cover – heading for the kitchen where it promptly disappeared behind the pedal bin.
My other half is a hardy soul and very outdoorsy (I’ve yet to see a backpack or shopping bag that she can’t carry or tent in a muddy field she’s unwilling to inhabit) but when it comes to spidery eight legged creatures or rodenty four legged ones it’s usually me that gets called on for removal duties.
That’s not to say she has no input mind you – because one of the benefits of shacking up with a Geography Teacher that’s got an extensive history of field studies is that she knows how to trap small furry creatures.
Within days (after finding a few little mouse droppings around the house that confirmed we had unwelcome guests) she purchased some humane traps and vibrating wall plugs from Amazon.
These were the first to go in – and I have to say I’m absolutely not convinced about them.
They have a blue light to show that they’re on, need to be plugged into a wall mounted socket (rather than extension lead) and apparently send irritating vibrations into the bricks to deter any nesting rodents.
The certainly provide annoyance in some quarters – because we immediately noticed (almost like a magnetic force might move iron filings) that our resident ants appeared to be taking increasingly odder and ever more convoluted paths through the kitchen (or – mmmsk mmmsk mmmsk – were they…. dancing?!).
On the down side there was a constantly annoying blue light in the dark of the house and the mouse poops continued to appear.
So – the humane traps were laid and baited with some of the bird seed.
Almost immediately we caught one – and to say it was a cute little fellow was a vast understatement. It was so lovely in fact that I felt immediately guilty about the obvious terror it appeared to be experiencing as we held the trap and tried to examine it.
The poor little guy was breathing like a racehorse after the grand national.
Instead of stressing it out further we wandered over to the garages near my house and released it into a bush.
Although I rather whimsically refer to this as ‘cat alley’ (there are numerous territorial pussycats that patrol this area) I hope it lived to tell the tale.
Then – the next day, another!
Initially I though that this was the same little guy from the day before – and just to make sure it didn’t come back we released it in some nearby woodland. There was no way it would find its way home any time soon.
However – as I sat and looked at the pictured later that evening I realised that the ears and feet were subtly different and that they were in fact not the same little cheese eaters.
The second one looked younger and more juvenile than the first.
So – there were children…
The trap went back down again the same night.
As cute as they are these guys are also rather dumb – as three nights in a row we captured their little family and let them loose in the great outdoors.
I have to say (having had a hamster and secretly missing its furry warmth) I rather wanted this to become a regular daily task – but either they learned from their mistakes or the extent of our infestation was only three mice!
Mind you – all we have to do now is find a humane slug trap – because now they’re gone the kitchen has a fresh shiny trail from under the washing machine to under the fridge almost every night of the week.
That’s if I don’t stand (bare footed) in them in the middle of the night…
When they’re not around there are other interlopers, who seem intent on highlighting the fact that I could spend waaaaay more time than I do removing cobwebs…
All in all there’s a lot to love about lockdown life and the visitors that you start to notice and appreciate.
Whilst some of them would do well to steer clear of kitchen (lest they incur the wrath of my kettle) others (inside and outside) are truly lovely.
So – here’s to having a somewhat ‘leaky’ house that’s a haven for interesting things!
Long may the birdies tweet and my bin be covered in crap – because I think it’s totally ace!!!