Clack. Clack!

Remember the serenity of the signs of Spring that I wrote about in my last post? The buoyant awakening of life and leaf as the weather warms. The sweet scent of blossoms melding and perfuming the air.

Well let me tell you about the sound of ‘CLACK CLACK!’

To which, heads duck, pedals spin faster and serenity flees.

That’s right Spring also means Magpie season.

The Australian Magpie sings a beautiful warble that melts hearts. With the same beak, it snaps: CLACK CLACK! When it’s Spring and the Magpies are nesting, they become very territorial.

Once you’re in their nesting zone, you’re theirs to shoo.

Humans don’t shoo Magpies. They shoo us. They swoop and swoop and swoop until you’ve left their turf. Bicycle riders, runners, golfers and walkers all fall prey to the Magpie protecting his nest from intruders. And while the Magpie is swooping, he’s clapping his beak – CLACK CLACK – around your head. One Spring, a Magpie clipped my ear and drew blood. Nothing serious but it can be dangerous. They have sharp beaks.

Bicycle riders pursue all types of inventions to ward off the Magpie. Bike helmets covered with zip-ties to create porcupine style spikes. A tall stick bearing a small flag that flies above the rider. Two large eyes painted on the back of the helmet. The Magpie knows them all. My technique is to keep my head down and pedal very fast.

I had a warning last week from the Magpie on the Currumbin Beach esplanade when I parked my bike near the Pandanus tree. Just a friendly swoop to say: ‘hey, we’re getting things ready up in the Norfolk Pine. You better start parking somewhere else’.

If you want to find out about, or let others know, where Magpies are attacking in your neighbourhood, check out the website Magpie Alert. The website told me that our usually chilled esplanade Magpie came good on his promise and attacked a cyclist three days ago.

And for some armchair entertainment, you must watch a fantastic video by Glen Holzl and David Frugal called ‘The Magpie Attack’ (see below). It has some impressive slow motion shots of the Magpie in full wingspread as it brakes just before the rider’s head. It’s well worth viewing.

Safe riding everyone! Keep your head down and pedal fast! 🙂

Magpie mural at Currumbin

Magpie mural at Currumbin

A rather chilled out Magpie at Currumbin Alley strolling past a surfboard.

A rather chilled out Magpie at Currumbin Alley strolling past a surfboard.

19 Comments on “Clack. Clack!

    • They are… the Magpie Alert website has already recorded 1138 attacks for the 2015 season Australia-wide. There were 142 injuries among them.

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  1. The magpies in my suburb have started their “friendly” swoops too. Thanks for the Magpie Alert link. I love our maggies but they do make me very nervous sometimes! One got a claw caught in my hair braid while I was riding once. I’m not sure who was most terrified. 🙂 The video was terrific. Thanks for sharing it. “-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure the magpie would’ve been equally terrified getting caught by surprise in your hair braid Jane 🙂

      The video is really well done. I’d contemplated filming some swooping but when I saw this video, I thought I couldn’t better it!

      Pedal fast! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the link to the news article Jen. It’s an interesting piece of research: suggesting that Magpies can recognise faces brings a whole new angle. It helps me make sense of how some people find success with tricks like porcupine spikes and others don’t. It’s the specific person they’re targeting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Often swooped, including while on horseback, but never injured; angry magpies just make me smile. The horse wasn’t phased either, btw, although he walked on a bit faster! This year we have plovers (masked lapwings) nesting on the grass in front of the house. Turns out that they swoop too… Gotta love the springtime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A magpie attack while riding a horse – that’s one I hadn’t thought of. A good thing everyone stayed calm.

      Oh, the plovers… yes they swoop. When I played golf as a teenager, the plovers and magpies would attack us around the fairways during the nesting season. Always mid-swing! Checking the post box at your place might soon become a little problematic? Not to mention mowing the lawn 🙂

      It makes me smile too. Their angry season is so short and then the magpies warble beautiful songs to us again.

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    • 🙂 That’s so true Margaret. It’s a wild life out there 🙂
      And yes, that video was very well put together. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      Thanks for reading.

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