Jonathan Ley of Lismore is petrified of the swooping magpie that indirectly led to a five day stay in hospital last week.
Jonathan Ley of Lismore is petrified of the swooping magpie that indirectly led to a five day stay in hospital last week. Jacklyn Wagner

Magpie attack adds to Lismore man's woes

IS Jonathan Ley Lismore's unluckiest man?

He has just spent four days in hospital after nearly severing his toe when a magpie attacked him on Lismore's Fawcett Bridge.

Mr Ley experienced another serious attack on the same bridge almost a year ago when he got caught in the hail storm that devastated Lismore.

He was on crutches at the time and unable to get out of the hail, suffering severe bruising and head injuries.

Mr Ley has been walking with crutches for several years due to two previous injuries. He was in a car accident about 12 years ago that resulted in him having a hip replacement and a knee reconstruction. Several years later he was working as a volunteer with Care Australia in Serbia and was shot in the hip by a sniper.

Mr Ley, who now uses a motorised scooter to get around, was crossing Fawcett Bridge last Tuesday when the latest attack occurred. He was looking up while trying to fend off the attacking magpie and crashed his toe into a sharp metal point on the railing of the bridge.

“I reversed back out, which was lucky because I could have severed the toe and lost it in the river below. I went to the chemist for a band-aid and the lady freaked out and called an ambulance,” he said.

Mr Ley, who had microsurgery on his toe, also tore ligaments in his knee and foot. At one stage the magpie landed on him, scratching his neck and hitting his sunglasses with its beak.

“If I didn't have the sunnies on it could have got my eye,” he said.

Mr Ley said he and others had contacted Lismore City Council about the aggressive magpie prior to the attack that put him in hospital. But he said the council didn't seem interested.

The Northern Star contacted the council, and a spokesperson said magpies were a protected species and therefore handled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

NPWS community relations ranger Lisa Waker said the incident hadn't been reported, but if it was the bird may have to be put down.

“In a case like that where the bird has struck someone in the eyes it would be deemed a dangerous bird and can be out down by the police. It does happen. Every season the odd bird gets put down if it is striking people in the face,” she said.

My Ley described it as 'the magpie from hell'.

“It doesn't seem to go for people on foot. It goes for people on bikes or scooters, or ladies pushing prams.”

“My heart's pounding at the thought of crossing that bridge. It chases me right across the bridge and into town. I'm going to buy an umbrella and paint a big ugly face on it.

“It's an evil, evil thing. I know it's only protecting its young, but that goes above and beyond when it follows you into town.

“I'd rather face the hail again than that monster.”

Mr Ley, who lives up three flights of stairs at the Winsome Hotel, said he wanted to thank the staff of the pub who had been incredibly helpful since the attack.

“If I didn't have their support I would have been in hospital for another three days. They've been bringing me up food and asking if I want any magazines or videos from the shop,” he said. “It gives you faith in people again.”

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