Saturday, March 14, 2009

Magpie Chortle

Have I told you before how I love living here on the farm? Probably ten times. It doesn't take much to renew my love of the place.

Yesterday evening I was feeling a bit dismal; it could have been simply because I was tired after my first full week back at work after six months of laziness.

I takes me a while to come fully awake at the weekend. Might be up and functioning but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm really awake. By the time I was hanging the laundry out on the clothesline this morning I was in a semi normal state, at least my ears were functioning well.

Then I heard the magpies in full throat down by the creek, chortling like crazy. I'm pretty sure a chortle is the best word to describe the song of the magpie. My gran called it that and I think she had it right.

I love magpies. I realize I am in the minority. They are not generally loved in NZ, in fact they are more often than not regarded as pests. I feel sorry for any animal that has been introduced from another country (Magpies were introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s from Australia to control pastoral insect pests) and then they are despised and hunted when they don't assimilate with the native creatures and habitat. It's not their fault! The possum is a better example of this but the magpie has its share of detractors too.

My son is a major magpie hater. He gets upset when he sees them attacking native birds but I argue they do far less harm than rats and cats do.

From early July through to Oct/Nov, during their breeding season they often attack (dive bomb) children, cyclists, farmers and runners. I've been a near victim in the past but I just moved as quickly as I could away from that area and avoided it for a month or two afterwards. I say they are only doing what comes naturally, defending their young and their territory. The fact that they can get a bit aggressive makes them a pest.

Magpie attack

I found a website this morning dedicated to magpie control and elimination. I have no objection to shooting or trapping birds that become pests but, honestly, poison!! How could anyone do that?

I don't want this post to turn into a rant, just wanted to share my love of the magpie chortle and this little bit of nonsense with you:

When Dan and Heather bought the farm
they said this is where we lay our head,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

Dan's hand is strong to milk the cows
Heather keeps the calves fed,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

Year in, year out they work
While the girls grow strong, well fed.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

All the beautiful grass is turned to cream
even when the new bridge was swept down the stream,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The magpies live down by the gate
They dive at the girls, attack their heads
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The farm's still here.
With the trees, creek and hills not far away.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

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