I am a rare-only bicyclist, but I can add one experience that might be
suggestive. As an occasional historian, I have had occasion to spend the
odd hour or two in cemeteries. It was during one of these expotitions a
couple of years ago, to the Old Cemetery at Ballarat, that I was dive-bombed
by an un-expected 'pie (it was a bit early in the season).
Taken off-guard, I did the thing I usually do when threatened by a beastie;
after the second fly-by, I watched it till it perched on a headstone a few
yards away, and then turned to face it fully and eye-balled it for a good
few seconds. (I think the mood was not 'I am threatening' so much as "I
will not be threatened by you".)
I then turned and walked off, carefully listening until I heard the wings,
when again I turned to face it full on. The magpie's response each time I
did this was to abort the attack, veer to one side, and settle on a
headstone. It did not take very long to be out of whatever the sensitive
The only alternative to this was to walk backwards (just as hazardous in a
graveyard as on a suburban footpath - think about it!).
Now, I am not suggesting that a cyclist, even if she/he anticipates an
attack, can stop every few yards to eyeball a magpie (though the strategy
might work for pedestrians - so long as you are game to give as good as you
get in glares). It does make me wonder, though, whether there might be a
line of investigation suggested here.
Might one, e.g., paint eyes on the top/back of one's helmet?
BTW, is the variety of magpie to which Martin refers G.t.collingwoodii, or
was I just imagining it?
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