Thursday, 21 September 2017

Scribble Picnic: Watch Out!

Hello friends,

The Scribble Picnic prompt for this week is WATCH OUT! 

It is Spring here in Oz and the bird nesting season is in full swing so I immediately thought of swooping magpies.  While they aren't the only species of bird to swoop at perceived intruders to their territory, they seem to hold the record for being the most persistent and aggressive. I remember my son, back in primary school, bleeding from just below his eye due to a magpie swooping at him.  I remember being swooped at myself many years ago when I was trying to hang out the washing in the back yard. They are fast, catch you unaware, and they do make contact if you're not fast enough to duck. It's very common in our area, warning signs are in place, and sometimes, people (particularly cyclists) wear funny hats with soft, long, skinny spikes sticking out in all directions to hopefully deter a magpie attack. Magpies see anyone as fair game, no matter the age...you walk into their territory and WATCH OUT! Here, magpies are a protected species which I'm very glad of as I'd hate to think of people harming them simply because they are protecting their young.

That said, magpies are very clever and will actually recognise faces and come to know the humans who mean them no harm.  In a previous home, they would gather twice a day for their treats and, quite often, one or two would come into the house, sit on our dining table and watch my son or I cut up their food. We have never been swooped/attacked since we started making friends with them.

I still get magpies bringing their babies to my door for their daily treats. Their babies can be very loud and demanding and, by that stage, are nearly as big as their parents. They are brown in colour unlike the typical black and white of the adult magpies. I love to watch them! 

SO, getting back to the prompt, I only managed a rough pen/ink sketch...not yet finished. The bird in the sketch will be a magpie when the piece is fine-tuned and coloured in.  These sketches are done completely from imagination and I made it into a cartoon-like sequence. Can you tell what happened?



NOTE : No sweet, old ladies were harmed in the making of this sketch.




Next week's prompt is RADIO. To join in on the fun, click HERE to find out how.
This week's contributions to our picnic can be found HERE.

29 comments:

  1. LOL! I LOVE this Serena!!! What an amazing idea to do a little cartoon...poor little old lady...lost part of her hat, but to a good cause! :)

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    1. Thanks, Rain. I'm glad you saw the humour in it. :)

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  2. Oh this is amazing Serena. And a comic strip format. Love it. You might send that into a publication.
    You reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcook movie The Birds. That was terrifying. I had never heard of magpies swooping down towards you. Fascinating and something to be added to a fiction story. Thank you.
    Great sketches!
    Blessings
    Janis

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    1. Thanks, Janis. OH yes, Australian magpies are notorious for swooping on unsuspecting passers-by during the nesting season.

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  3. Just so funny but true. I had forgotten that the magpies would dive bomb our children walking to school and I had to walk with them to try and scare the birds away....I was that old lady..haha

    Love the cartoon effect...it's really shows movement and feelings.

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    1. Haha! I have been in that old lady's shoes too although I never had anything stolen, another thing magpies have been known to do as they like to glitz up their nests.

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  4. HaHa ~ I'm a slow learner....just realized she stole the old lady's hat for her nest.... That's so darn clever....You are the best.

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    1. Thank you. In hindsight, I should have sketched another frame showing the magpie flying off with hat in her claws...then followed with the babies in the 'hat' nest.

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  5. I love the bird getting the hat for a nest! I'd love to see those baby magpies waiting for treats.

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    1. They never stop squawking for food, Paula...they certainly keep their parents busy. haha

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  6. swooping magpies, I had no idea, well done Serena! We have been chased off by Canada Geese in the springtime if you get too close to their young.

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    1. I've heard swans can be very protective of their young too although I managed to get fairly close to a pair of cygnets last year and the parents weren't too phased. Maybe I was JUST outside their perceived boundary. hehe

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  7. I love your cartoon and finding out about magpies and swooping season. I'm learning so much at these picnics!

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    1. Thanks, Lorraine. I've been learning lots too. :)

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  8. We get blue jays who dive bomb and have been known to make contact. The last place I lived the swallows dived at you but they never really came too close. That is so cool that when you made friends with them they were nice back. ;)

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    1. Yes, we have a few other species that like to swoop down on unsuspecting passers-by. :)

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  9. Haha, this brings a big smile to my face. That lady will never want her hat back now! Love it! And what a great story too, Serena. I feel you've written about these birds before on your blog some time ago, right? Or am I getting mixed up with someone else. I never really realised jsut how protective and dangerous they can be! Wow.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. Yes, I have written about feeding the magpies in previous posts. If you type 'magpie' into the search box in my sidebar, it will bring up some of those posts. :)

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  10. I love your story about the Magpies and then your cartoon captures it perfectly. We don't have Magpies where I live, but our dive bombers are Red Wing Blackbirds ... same story, protecting their territory. Great job, Serena ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

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    1. Thanks, Andrea. It's funny how some bird species swoop or dive-bomb while others don't. :)

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  11. We have plenty in our place but I have never heard that they swoop dive in England on humans. However they are very intelligent birds and also very aggressive. They tend to raid nests of smaller birds and that really upsets me although I know there are other birds who do the same but these magpies wait around the nests when the little ones are fledging and swoop on them. The problem became so bad one year that they found that there were very few small birds. I think now a days they do controlled culling of them otherwise they become very dominant and don't let the smaller birds breed.

    Love your sketch specially the one where it is snatching the lady's hat😀

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    1. Thanks, Shashi. The Australian magpie is very different in nature to the European magpies which are corvids. They don't attack or raid other birds' nests and, in fact, a couple of bird species will even build their nests directly under a magpie nest. The tiny Pardalotes will actually burrow down and nest in the bottom of a magpie nest itself and the magpies don't mind. I think they feel safe and protected knowing that the magpies are so protective of their own young.

      We do have other birds, such as Crows and Butcher Birds that will raid and kill other birds young. Aussie Magpies are omnivorous but will generally eat insects and worms/grubs. They have been known to kill cane toads too but, as far as I know, they don't kill other birds.

      It's sad that the magpies there are so dominant with smaller species of birds.

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  12. Oh my! I have had friends experience this with other birds too.
    Fun comic strip and great idea. Feeding birds really is fun.

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    1. Thanks, Tammie. I love watching birds and their antics and, yes, feeding them is fun to watch also.

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  13. lol easier then making a nest by hand/bill :)

    gulls are a big problem here attacking people when they get to close to their nests. So many people are calling for a gull cull when the main problem is people littering food everywhere that attracts the birds :/

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    1. Haha...I admit I did take some liberty as, in reality, they don't normally steal hats. Our Aussie magpies do tend to like collecting little trinkets to decorate their nest though. They like sparkly things apparently...also hair, ribbon etc. If a pair become particularly aggressive during nesting season, they will be relocated but not harmed as, being native birds, they are protected by law. People tend to accept magpie nesting season for what it is and, thankfully, it's only for 1 to 2 months of the year. :)

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  14. pretty sure the gulls are protected here too. people are getting hurt, nothing major, but they still complain :/

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  15. I always loved magpies in England but we don't have them over here, at least not in my area of the southeast. In the UK they say "Good Morning George" when they see a magpie.
    Loved reading about your birds and never knew they could become quite tame.
    Your cartoon is great Serena, the babies in the nest are adorable.

    Busy days here as we're having the entire exterior of the house worked on - noisy with hammers, drills, sanders etc., then the painters next week - I have a permanent headache so leaving now to go get my hair colored, haha!!!
    Have a great spring weekend - Mary

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    1. I didn't know about the "Good morning, George" greeting for magpies in the UK. The Aussie magpies are from a different species to the European ones. Our magpies were only called that because the black and white markings reminded them of the European ones. Different habits though.

      I hope the work at your house doesn't take too much longer. Headaches are no fun at all.

      Have a lovely week!

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