Is the reign of magpie terror now over?
IT SEEMS most of Gympie's magpie chicks have left the nest - or at least been raised to a point where their parents no longer feel inclined to terrorise passing humans.
Though the magpie nesting season officially stretches from July through to December, attempts to capture a magpie attack on film at several traditional nesting sites this week proved completely unsuccessful.
There was not a magpie to be seen; not even when we sweetened the bait by getting our subjects (victims) to ride bicycles through the area.
Facebook followers of The Gympie Times suggested several sports where they believed the maggies were still swooping; one follower saying there was a "particularly nasty bird" attacking near the corner of Cootharaba and Rifle Range Rds above the Gympie Special School.
But there was no sign of any such bird near that intersection when we went there with our cameras; nor were there any swooping magpies at other traditional sites such as between the South Side school and corner shop, near the Grevillea Gardens Aged Care Facility on Ramsay Rd, or in Roselea Avenue.
Apparently there is a butcher bird causing some havoc near Cooloola Christian College, but capturing a butcher bird in attack mode just doesn't have the same element of fear as a magpie.
Some of our Facebook followers said birds were still swooping in Camphor Laurel Court and Henry St, near Kidd Bridge, on Brisbane Rd (where a young boy was apparently hit in the stomach in one nasty attack), near Day Care of Auz in Stanley St, and on the far side of the BMX tracks on the One Mile Ovals. Swooping plovers are also nesting at Chatsworth and no doubt many other spots around the district.
Check out some of the classic magpie swooping footage taken with a go pro camera that we've posted to The Gympie Times Facebook page.
Magpies will nest and may swoop anytime between July and December, though in Gympie the magpie season does not seem to kick into full gear until August/September.
Most magpies accept the presence of people in their territories and that we are not competitors or dangerous predators.
A few birds, however, become convinced that some people are a threat to their chicks and attempt to scare them away from the vicinity of the nest.
Usually this is a small area (the "defence zone", about 100m radius) around the tree containing the nest, although it may be a wider area when cyclists are involved.