July on the Northern Tableland, near Armidale in New South Wales, is usually the beginning of the breeding season and field observations start early.
I sat and watched in freezing temperatures. The sun was just rising above the horizon of this 1000m-high plateau when through binoculars I saw a young lone magpie, walking gingerly, literally tip-toeing, occasionally interrupted by little bouts of running and, unusually, heading straight for its territorial boundary.
In the last stretch to the border, the bird edged along a row of pine trees, staying low, and kept looking over its shoulder, especially when crossing the neighbour’s border. Shortly afterwards, a female was seen in his company.