When I was riding my bike to and from school, the swimming hole, tennis courts…wherever, I was never under threat from diving magpies. Back then, the maggies were not as far north as my little town. I think they are probably common throughout New Zealand now. Certainly, I see a lot of them in Auckland these days. And, yes, they do swoop down on people during nesting season. It’s all about survival, protecting the young.

Here in Australia there are signs dotted all about the town, warning of swooping magpies at this time of year. Some people carry open umbrellas, some people wear cardboard plates with  a “scary face” drawn on them. (Yes, really!) And many cyclists wear modified skid-lids. Like this…








Trying to ward off cranky magpies with a brolly while negotiating “mums taxis” would be silly. So many cyclists attach cable ties to their helmets. It must work as I’ve never seen these riders being swooped!

This being the season for “makin’ whoopee” there are all kinds of birds and animals protecting their offspring from clod-hopping humans and natural predators.

We’ve heard more often the seen the curlews in the evening.  web picture.Wikipedia

They make a bubbly whistling noise (hang on – I’ll try to find a recording… The ABC has one but you’ll have to click on “curlew” in the list;can’t get an embedding link. And man! are they fast movers. There was a small family scuffling in the leaves the other night and I thought it was probably scrub turkeys, but when The Man drove up the drive I saw Ma and Pa Curlew and( I think) 3 youngsters scuttle around the gate post and down the road.

Ready for some more art? Here is a piece made by some friends. Leonie did the drawings and her late husband, Rick, fired the pieces. I’m very pleased to have this, one of the last before Rick’s untimely death.

Oh-oh…Geiger’s up to her tricks again…she brings skinks in and deposits them in our slippers! It can be a bit of a shock to feel something against your toes. Most days, we shake the footwear before we slide our unsuspecting tootsies in…it could be worse.

Happy Hour, I think!

42 thoughts on “INGENUITY

  1. I love to hear of other cats depositing treats in footwear. Years back, we had mice in the house. The smaller portion spoke poorly of the cats. The very next morning as he was getting dressed for work he shook a mouse head from his shoe. Served him right I say.

    And the lovely Jewel hides her acorn shells so Jazz cannot have them. In my shoes or my swim bag are favoured spots to secrete them.


  2. ahhh reminds me of when I was younger (like in my 30s) and training for the city to surf (yes I was once fit enough to run the 14km race!) I used to wear all manner of weird things to fend off the bombing maggies! when I didn’t have anything to hand – I found the best thing was to actually use one arm as a head shield and the other as a sort of antenna (pointing to the sky)… I must have looked like a real git!!!!!!


  3. There are magpies up here, too. They’re beautiful black & white with a long tail, pretty big. Must be related to crows. They do not go after bikers HERE, at least in my experience. You have skinks there? Amazing. Nice plate!


    • Send your boys up a chimney or out to scavenge firewood to sell. Go on – you could start a new Dickensian trend! 😉 Oh wait…Canada’s a signatory to Children’s Rights. Damn!


  4. Hi Dinahmow. I just want you to know that Pearl died peacefully today at home, with Andy and me. And Pumpy and Pickles. She was 18 years old. It’s been a rough weekend for me but I think we did the right thing for her. The vet came to the house and that was really much better than having to take her to the vet — which she hated.


  5. swooping magpies? oh, dear… we have to defend ourselves from nesting Canada Geese, but only when walking near their nests. i think a baseball bat would work nicely, but the local authorities frown on that, as they are still considered a protected migratory waterfowl…


    • Daisyfae: They nest & walk everywhere here when they’re here. They’re a gorgeous bird but they’re a pain. They stop traffic on main high-speed thoroughfares and poop all over the place. I’ve been nipped several times. Still, they’re a lovely bird and their migration to Canada’s or other countries’ north is celebrated.


    • There’s a lovely park area here known as The Gooseponds. There used to be hundreds of geese living there, but “some people” complained to Council and the next thing we knew the geese had gone. Relocated, according to Council.
      One of my geese(at the former house) was a knee-capper. Ferocious bastard!I usually carried a leaf rake! 😉


  6. Hahaha! I bet you’ve got a cable incrusted skid lid just waiting to be used. C’mon – get that bike of yours out of the garage and Go show the magpies who’s boss! I know I used to have to put my school bag on my head or hide under the tree in Palmwoods while I was waiting for the school bus in fear of having hefty chunks taken out of my scalp!! But that was a looooooooooong time ago – why does it only seem like yesterday?


    • Fat chance! My bike is one of those fixed-frame exercise machines(like the French stripper bikes,but without the stripper! :-()
      I don’t have the nerve to tangle with road traffic. Or the exhaust fumes.


    • Hello, Ms. Scarlet! Perhaps you live in an area where horrid children have not been tormenting the birds so they have not had to ramp up their defenses?
      Pleased you like the book art. Some of the group are serious calligraphers.


  7. How amazingly Hitchcock-ian. Our magpie equivalents do not go after people. I’m having an image of warning signs with… icons of attacking birds? There could be art material in this…


    • Thankyou, Lulu.(How was Portugal?)
      Cullen Skink? The Scots might be miffed that you said it’s Geordie, but yes, I know it. It’s made, these days, from smoked haddock(Finnan Haddie. ) but I think it was once a beef bones soup. Damn! You’ve made me hungry… 🙂


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