Greg Bray, columnist for the Gladstone Observer. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer
Greg Bray, columnist for the Gladstone Observer. Photo Brenda Strong/The Observer Brenda Strong GLA170212GREG

When old hobbies take flight in spring

AH, SPRING. When a young man's thoughts turn to love and, for some reason, old blokes like me dust off our pushbikes smack bang in the middle of magpie nesting season. Why I choose this time of year to trundle round town on my faithful bicycle, Pubtruck, is something of a mystery.

Perhaps it's because I've been inspired by the migration of the little eastern curlews who return to Oz around this time of year after their epic, 10,000km long-haul flight from Siberia. Apparently they shed half their bodyweight in the process.

Unfortunately, I haven't lost any weight but the mobs of magpies lining up to lay into me and Pubtruck are certainly getting a solid workout.

The council tried whacking up warning signs in known magpie hotspots, but the little spoilsports pretended they couldn't read and carried on bombing me outside their council-designated swooping zones.

I tried multiple magpie deterrents, much to the amusement of my family, neighbours and astonished strangers.

In fact, I even designed a full body suit bristling with cable ties, but that particular rocket didn't make it to the launch pad when Long Suffering Wife realised I was serious about wearing it in public. "They're just birds! Honestly, how much damage can they possibly do?” she asked as I sat sulking in the shed.

This is precisely what someone who travels exclusively in a car with all the windows wound up would say.

Then I got all zen about it. "What would Buddha do?” I pondered.

Filling my mitt with mince, I toddled down the road to befriend the closest black and white terrorists and it worked. Sadly, I don't have enough time, or mince, to bribe the other 68 pairs of nesting magpies around town.

So I temporarily mothballed Pubtruck, then suggested to Long Suffering Wife another particularly stimulating springtime exercise we could both enjoy safely indoors.

As she doubled over with laughter, I suddenly remembered why I choose this time of year to get on my bike.

Honestly, in this season of my life, things are definitely going to the birds.


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