Skip Diving

skip     House sparrows
It’s ten to five as my fingers start to peck at the keyboard. In the flat lard slab of sky over my shoulder a pale sun seeks to clear a gap, like a Victorian schoolboy wiping at a greasy window pane with the end of his thumb.
At the back of the house sparrows have suddenly converged and are grabbing up sunflower seeds that have spilled from the hanging feeders onto the unseasonably deep snow (about eight inches in “old money”).
The snow set in on Friday, dashing my plans of moving rhododendrons and ferns, making a trip to the allotment impractical and carpeting the Midlands ever since. I have known snow this late (indeed later) in the year, but not accompanied by such a biting wind.
At work on Friday I noticed a skip with what looked like useful, let’s say, materials inside it. I spoke to the contractors and gained permission to “re-purpose”* (love that phrase) the “swaggage” inside. It is some kind of pre-formed cladding they are using to box-in heating pipes and cables in the building. Clearly they have more of it than they need, so some is in the aforementioned skip.
I recently replaced old nest boxes – at home and up on the plot – but these pieces might be perfect for “terrace boxes” which are said to be perfect for house sparrows (http://www.beautifulbritain.co.uk/htm/wildlife_gardening/sparrow_terrace.htm  )
Now I am an inveterate scrounger and the idea of finding a use for what others have thrown away is central to my character, so legitimate “skip diving” is a must.
So very often I find that people are getting rid of something that would serve a useful purpose (isn’t that what allotments are famous for?) I think back to my own earlier associations of allotments with sheds made from a motley of materials with a smile, and remind myself that, having just had three windows replaced I still have the double glazed units to carry up to the site to use, no doubt as a cloche.
There is lots of information that house sparrows are struggling and numbers dropping, so I plan to set up some boxes, maybe at home; although the walls are already home to blue tit boxes, a bat box, a metallic ornamental butterfly and two “bee-hotels”. I have been fascinating over the past two years – not to say surprised – by the industry, resilience and workmanship of the solitary bees using these home-made homes. Simply blocks of timber with holes drilled in. The bees adopt a hole and lay eggs in it (in a certain order), then plug up the entrance/exit with pieces of leaf, or more attractively – flower petals.
So, with a little bit of luck, the next few days will see the successful assembly of the next phase.  The contractors were really helpful: so far I have found that people are and can become very interested, but not certain how waterproof the material is; only one way to find out is what I’m thinking.

*Re-purpose: I suppose it means what was once called re-using or, less technically correctly, re-cycling. I came across it on a survivalist blog that opened itself up – for no sensible reason I can fathom – on my Facebook page.

Photosource:  chargrills.blogspot.com (“Your Trash, My Treasure)

and

garthright.blogspot.com (sparrows photo)

24/3/2013

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Re-purpose, upcycling, using something which would have been thrown out to make something useful.
    When do solitary bees emerge in spring? I saw a tortoiseshell butterfly on a dandelion flower before this cold snap. Sue

    Reply

  2. I too love that phrase re-purpose, new one to me – thanks for sharing. Your love for nature shines through, thanks for caring – and may the sparrows be happy in their new homes:-)

    Reply

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