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Spring Down Under means it's black and white bird attack season...

It's autumn in Blighty, as you may have noticed, which means it's spring in Australia and to many cyclists Down Under that means one thing: it's magpie attack season, as this video shows.

Trent Nicholson caught the bird in action on his rear-facing camera in Shellharbour New South Wales as it repeatedly swooped at him.

He says: "For most of the year magpies are fascinating and endearing native birds. However, during breeding, a small percentage of them can be aggressive, swooping at passers-by in their territory."

Despite their roughly similar size and colouring, Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen) are not closely related to the Eurasian bird of the same name (Pica pica).

They're very common in urban and suburban Australia, which means it's a good job only about nine percent of them become aggressive during nesting season, otherwise riding a bike there would be like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

According to Wikipedia, almost all attacking birds (around 99%) are male, and they are generally known to attack pedestrians at around 50m (150ft) from their nest, and cyclists at around 100m (300ft). Attacks begin as the eggs hatch, increase in frequency and severity as the chicks grow, and tail off as the chicks leave the nest.

Being attacked by a magpie is pretty scary, to say the least. They tend to come at you from behind, so the first you know of it is when you feel wing-beats and hear the sharp 'clack' of a beak closing near your ear, or if you're unlucky, on it. I was swooped a few times when I lived in Sydney and I did pretty much the only thing you can do: change commuting route for a few weeks.

There have been reports of cyclists being injured after swerving when attacked, and in 2010 a 12-year-old boy was killed in traffic while trying to evade a swooping magpie. You might think Australia's helmet law would provide some compulsory protection, but magpies go for the sides of the head and sometimes the face and eyes - people have lost the sight in an eye as a result of a magpie attack. A helmet is therefore as effective against the bird as it is if you get hit by a truck.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.