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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Robert Ashley
Friday, September 13
Friday, September 13. 5:30 p.m., still in KOA Campground, Teton Village.

Remember Heckel and Jeckyl, the mischievous cartoon magpies? They were audacious characters, always squabbling and scheming, and they got into everything. Some kind of trouble was always brewing when they were around. I haven’t looked lately, but I don’t think they’re on Saturday morning cartoon shows anymore. I remember seeing them years ago when my kids were small, when the roadrunner always outsmarted Wily Coyote and cats chased mice to the accompaniment of classical music. Cartoon morning was usually a noisy affair, and the fast-talking Heckel and Jeckyl were right in the middle of the action. Now I’m beginning to see how real magpies were inspirations to the creator of the cartoon characters.

Magpies (Pica hudsonia, formerly Pica pica) are residents of our campground. I just counted six of them, checking out some newly arrived campers. They strut around, or hop if in a hurry, looking for insects in the grass or morsels of food that campers have left. Occasionally I see them leaving the large National Geographic canopies-our group cooking, dining, and storage area-just as I arrive. Of course, they project a look of nonchalance, as though they just happened to wander into the canopy by mistake or they were taking a short cut to the creek. One morning, one of the birds was standing on a table under the canopy, the keys to one of the Honda Pilots in his beak. Another time I walked into the canopy and surprised a magpie (and myself) that was looking into the silverware bag. “Hey!” I said. “Drop it!”

“Yek?” the bird replied. “Who, me?” He cocked his head slightly, eyeing me as though I was rude to interrupt his activity. He hopped onto the bench beside the table, then to the ground, and strutted out. “Yek!” he said again. I suspect they work together. While one hops around in the open and struts his stuff, I think the other does surveillance work behind the canopy wall. So far, I’ve not noticed anything significant being carried away, but their actions remind me of the crafty Heckel and Jeckyl each time I see them.

Actually, magpies are attractive birds and are reputed to be pretty smart. They are relatively large (about 20” long), black with white belly and shoulders. The black is an iridescent blue-green on the wings and long tail. When they fly, the white patches on their wings make the wings look like pinwheels. They are members of the corvidae family (crows, jays, ravens) and range from Alaska and western Canada south to California and east to the Great Plains. They have been known to pilfer from humans, particularly bright or shiny objects. I’ve tried to write what I think they say, but “chirp, chirp” appears a bit simplistic when compared to The Sibley Guide to Birds’ description: “…a nasal, rising jeeeek; harsher, lower rek rek rek rek or weg weg weg weg weg; rapid shek shek shek shek, three to five notes. Also higher, long, nasal gway gway or gwaaaaay; rather nasal, hard, querulous ennk.” Really.
for Friday, September 13
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Robert Ashley
Bob Ashley poses with school children at the Wyoming Hunting and Fishing Heritage Exposition 2002
. Robert Ashley is a teacher from Illinois.
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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 26
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, September 24
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 21
Robert Ashley
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Friday, September 20
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, September 19
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 18
Robert Ashley
Kemmerer
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Tuesday, September 17
Robert Ashley
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Monday, September 16
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, September 15
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 14
Robert Ashley
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Friday, September 13
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 11
Robert Ashley
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Monday, September 9
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 4
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, September 3
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, September 1
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 30
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 29
Robert Ashley
Stoddard Creek (F.S.) campground
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Wednesday, August 28
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 25
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 23
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 22
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 21
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, August 20
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, August 17
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 16
Robert Ashley
Meyer Hill
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Thursday, August 15
Robert Ashley
Aspen Grove
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Wednesday, August 14
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, August 13
Robert Ashley
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Monday, August 12
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 11
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 4
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, August 3
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 1
Robert Ashley
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