Yes that’s right, Magpies! And no i’m not superstitious even though a client once asked me quite bluntly “do you believe in the magpies Frances?” Of course she was referring to the age old myth and rhyme…. one for sorrow, two for joy, three to get married etc and so on up to number 7.
To my surprise when the subject came up this afternoon my cousin Michael and his partner Tracey couldn’t stop laughing. I found myself having to repeat it several times, and to make it worse there were a few Beechworth beers involved!
You may ask yourself what’s all this got to do with cycling? Well, as I’ve just learned today, Australian cyclists and magpies do not go hand in hand but do go head to head. Bear in mind the magpies here make European magpies seem miniature.
It all kicks off during nesting season which thankfully for me is just over. These birds become territorial during that period and tend to stay in the same place each year. Nesting season becomes “swooping” season where cyclists are concerned. Some are very aggressive by nature and have developed a deep hatred towards fast moving cyclists.
It’s such a problem there’s a national website in place to record geographical areas and incidents of swooping – magpiealert.com I kid you not!!
It’s a classic Australian phenomenon, and now magpie victims can report their attack. The website shows a map of all reported swoopings, including those which cause injury. It came to my attention whilst out walking yesterday when I spotted a cyclist with cable ties sticking out of his helmet like some sort of high aerials. My reaction to Tracey – “look at that idiot!”. Some have stuck branches of trees into their helmets, and stickers to look like eyes on the back of their helmets, but the birds are highly intelligent, have amazing memories, and strike back no matter what.
Tracey explained her experience with one particularly aggressive bird on her local cycle route, and how frightening and painful it can be when they swoop. One has to just pedal like hell and hope they back off. I don’t think I’ll ever again complain of potholes or weather after watching some footage of these birds in action.
It’s somehow hilarious to watch those brave enough to put on the go-pros and take the aggressors on. Hope you enjoy the footage as much as I did, and thanks to the brave cyclists for their clips…