Magpies and Cable Ties (again)

Around July 26, which is surprisingly early, I had my first magpie strike of the season. A magpie slammed into my helmet several times out near Mawson Lakes. So out came the cable ties.

Cable ties sticking up out of the helmet prevent the birds from hitting the rider on the head.  They don’t like flying into the little forest of twigs. It’s very effective, although it makes the rider look somewhat strange. A lady once asked me at the traffic lights why I had all this stuff on my head.  I said it was to keep the aliens away, and she took a step back! I then said it was for magpies, but she was not convinced, and looked the other way.

Magpies learn. A couple of weeks ago this same magpie, which has been swooping over me and swearing profusely twice a day, began to fly in from the side, slamming into my head underneath the cable ties. In response I now have cable ties sticking out from the side of the helmet. The magpie was reduced to frustrated swearing and squawking, and I now look like a real idiot.

This morning, at the end of August,  the magpie tried a new tactic.  It came in low and fast, thudding into my shoulder. “Fail,” thought I, amply protected by jacket, jersey and shirt. That was gloating too soon. It soon became clear the technique simply needed a little practice. You ricochet off the point of the shoulder and up into the neck and the earlobe. It’s very effective, it draws blood, and avoids the cable ties.

So tonight I will have added some more cable ties to droop down over my neck.  It’s a pest. They howl in the wind.  I look like a prize drongo.  But it’s the nicest route home, along creeks and away from traffic. I don’t want to abandon it. Besides, there are other magpies on the alternative ways home.

Such is life.  Just when we get it sorted out, there is a new challenge. The challenge, of course, is what the living is all about. And if magpies are the only problem,  I’m a fortunate man.

Andrew Prior 2010

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