“Let’s walk to Kalahari,” I instructed the boys. It was a beautiful spring day and the coffeeshop is about a kilometre away. The trek began and we were enjoying the first rays of sun warming us up, when out of nowhere a swooping black and white thing came right for my mister 8 (at that stage). I screamed at this ‘gevaarte’ and it took off, only to turn around and begin the attack again. We picked up a stick and it stayed away, but kept on warning us of its intent.
After our visit at the coffeeshop, we took a detour, keeping close to the traffic in the hope that another attack would be staved off, but no such luck. It identified my blond-haired, fair skinned son from a distance.
Two days later we went cycling in the same area and once again a swooping black and white attack. Thankfully master 8 had his sunglasses and cycling helmet on. On the way back we rerouted a street on, and sure as daylight, there it was, checking him out from the roof of a block of flats.
And so we were introduced to the memory of the magpies. Usually a very peaceful bird, but around September and October these birds become bats from hell when their young ones start hatching and they decide the wingless bipods are threats to them and their offspring.
They are dangerous for about six weeks out of the year, and there advice aplenty of how to keep them at bay.
Some say, carry a stick as they go for high points, others say get another route. Cyclists take to putting cable ties on their cycling-helmets and even put white baubles on that look like eyes, because the magpies presumably does not like to be looked at while they attack – sneaky buggers they are. Some even wear two sets of sunnies, at the front and at the back so the bird does not know whether you are coming or going.
Dear Migrant to the Great South Land,
we do not have the big five, except in Zoos. Our marsupials sure are cute and cuddly. The Australian birdlife is breathtakingly beautiful and varied. But there are two birds that I do not care for too much, the Crow on a hot summer’s day and the Magpie in spring time.
The Crow sounds like a little lamb being slaughtered. It truly is a horrible, horrible sound, which chills you to the bone.
And then you have the Magpie who does not seem to forget a face it does not like.
Therefor, be prepared when you arrive that the birdlife is absolutely beautiful, and a walk at the Swan River may surprise you with beautiful Lovebirds and Budgies flying around freely. Our Ghalas and Black Cockatoos are daily occurrences as are the Alexandria Parrots, although not native.
Just keep an eye out for a swooping Magpie and when you experience one of those hotashell days, have a look. ‘die kraaie gaap regtig.’