News

Woonona’s swooping magpie is back

WITH their distinctive markings and call, the magpie is one of Australia’s most loved birds – except in spring.

Spring is the season when they can engage in swooping and, according to Wollongong Council’s parks crews, the well-known magpie at Woonona Beach has got the jump on the season early.

Parks crews carrying out maintenance in the area have been told the magpie is back in action and making his distrust of the back of cyclists’ heads known.

Signage has been installed in the area to make sure all those passing immediately south of the Woonona Beach Surf Club are aware of the bird.

“This bird is well known by locals and has been swooping cyclists in this area for some time,’’ Wollongong Acting Lord Mayor Tania Brown said.

“As soon as reports came to us, we’ve placed warning signs in the area to let people know.”

Magpies are a protected species in Australia and while not all magpies swoop, the Woonona Beach magpie’s behaviour – always swooping from behind – does not meet the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services’ criteria of a vicious bird.

“The best advice is to hop off your bike as you see the signage, walk your bike through the area, and then hop back on to bike once you’ve passed by his nesting spot,” Cr Brown said.

“Alternatively, you can also ride a different route. We know we have a couple of public use areas in the city that are home to swooping magpies – there is another in the Wollongong Botanic Garden. We are proactive and put signage out at individual locations to let people know to be aware once the breeding season and swooping behaviours of that particular bird have started.

“If you’re aware of magpies swooping in other areas, please contact Council’s Customer Service team on 4227 7111 so we can put signage out and let people in that area know so they’re not caught off-guard.”

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services recommends protecting yourself from a swooping magpie by choosing a different route, wearing a hat or carrying an open umbrella, walking a bike rather than riding, protecting your head and eyes, and not running. For more information call the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service on 4224 4188 or visit their website.

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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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