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.

Warning over 'manor house' fast tracking

Warning over 'manor house' fast tracking

Manor House code warning

Shark attack at Byron Bay

Shark attack at Byron Bay

Beaches closed after early morning attack