This article contains material of a satirical nature that may offend some readers. Please note the photos are awful, but the story is good/scary/funny.
For months now I have been in serious training. Magpie training. It’s full on magpie breeding season here in Canberra (Australia) and for the unlucky few, a walk, cycle or broomstick ride, may lead to being dive-bombed by a rampaging magpie. As of a few minutes ago, the count on the number of magpie attacks that have occurred in Australia this year is 3798, with 466 injuries (see Australia’s Magpie Swooping Map 2020). The number of attacks and injuries are likely significantly under-reported. But have no fear, ladies and gentlemen, there are a couple of ways to mitigate the risks.
Firstly, you can dress appropriately for walking and get to know your local magpies and they, you, throughout the year, or you can stay inside, never to emerge from the safety of your home. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’ve been working on the first strategy, but my confidence has been seriously shaken recently by my children reporting that they had been swooped several times in recent weeks. Then I saw a woman walking down my street waving a small branch with copious foliage. Magpie/human interaction had now been weaponised. Clearly an attempt at camouflage or some sort of xxxx-weak magpie deterrent. Thankfully our magpies are a protected species, otherwise you know where this story could go.
Since I’ve been doing all this magpie training, I decided to pull on my big girl pants, runners and face mask; grab my camera; and put the magpie training to the test. So I walked to the pharmacy. While I was waiting for my script, I went for a short stroll “outback”. This magpie gave me “the look”.
I held my nerve and the moment passed without incident. When I collected my prescription, the pharmacist told me that a magpie had swooped her in the same area that I had just been walking. I attributed my successful and peaceful encounter to my earlier magpie training, as well as my face mask, camera and big girl pants. Still, at the back of my mind, I couldn’t help wondering whether I had just got lucky. Buried in the dark recesses of my mind was this.
However, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I kept walking, but this time I went out without my usual walking accoutrements. By this, I mean my camera. Get your minds out of the gutter, ladies and gentlemen. Anyway, I felt naked without my camera but also somehow immune to magpie attack due to the training. Magpies exploit weaknesses. You have to do everything right and even then, sometimes you still get caught out.
So yep, as I was walking down the hill I heard the thud of bird wings and the click of a beak and my hair stood on end as the magpie flew through the strands of my billowing hair. Then it flew off to a nearby tree and watched me. I was strangely euphoric. I had faced danger and I had survived. I felt invincible. No fear. Yes, I was clearly delusional from the blood that had rushed to my nether regions. Unfortunately, it could have been a lot, lot worse (google magpie attacks boy on scooter) and the physical and psychological damage long-lasting. Then sanity prevailed. I think it will be a few weeks before I take that route again. No need to repeat the same mistake.
Okay, apologies. Time to lighten things up. The other day I walked out of the bathroom and found this.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. And approach with caution.
Do take care. Stay safe and stay sane.