Rare bird Reports - UK style

To: "birds" <>
Subject: Rare bird Reports - UK style
From: "Colin R" <>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2009 12:11:05 +1000
To follow on from my previous email regarding rare bird reports -
here below is a typical UK weekly report - it does include
details of the mega rarity the Eastern Crowned Warbler, (which
even made SBS news during the week) but other than that its an
average weeks birding in Britain and Ireland...

Review of the Week: 22nd-28th October 2009 by Mark Golley

An illustrated version of this article is available on our
website to webzine subscribers, at:

The week at a glance

- MOURNING DOVE in County Cork
- COMMON NIGHTHAWK picked up in County Kerry
- BROWN SHRIKE still in Surrey
- ZITTING CISTICOLA seen again Kent

"Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over! It is
now!" The most iconic words in sports broadcasting, intoned, so
beautifully, by the BBC's Ken Wolstenholme as he called home
England's World Cup win in the summer of 1966 and Geoff Hurst
leathered the ball past West Germany's Hans Tilkowski. What's
this got to do with birding? Well, right now, that
World-Cup-winning sensation is exactly what the discovery of
Britain's first EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER has been likened to by
one of its finders. And with the euphoria and triumph of a
genuine once-in-a-lifetime find, who can blame anyone for
comparing such epic moments from two markedly different sports
(or pastimes or hobbies if you'd prefer).

The small coastal site of Trow Quarry, alongside The Leas in
South Shields (Durham), became ornithology's Wembley Stadium,
thrust swiftly into the centre of the birding event of the year
(trumping Tufted Puffin - this stuck, that didn't). Thousands of
birders, interested parties and the national media all made a
beeline for the leafy little spot on the edge of the North Sea
after a remarkable sequence of events unfolded on the evening of

Two stalwart local birders had been at the quarry and, after rain
and a pleasing blast of easterly wind, located a couple of
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS. One of the birds was photographed and
duly posted, along with other highlights from the day, to a local
Internet forum. As late evening edged closer, the ultra-sharp
eyes of the Durham recorder, Mark Newsome, were drawn to the
small thumbnail of a robust Phyllosc. At full size, there was no
doubt: patchworkers Dougie Holden and Derek Bilton had had their
very own Jules Rimet moment - this was, unequivocally, Britain's
first Eastern Crowned Warbler.

What happened next? Well, phone calls and emails ensured that a
wider and wider audience began to share Mark's incredulity at
what was staring back at him from his computer screen. A
relatively clear night filled many twitching hearts with a sense
of dread though - was this going to be one of those occasions
when an absolute cracker was identified retrospectively, only to
be gone the next morning? Well, from the hushed scenes early on
the morning of 23rd it seemed to be that, yes, that was exactly
the case. Barely 100 people were on-site at first light to take
their chances that the eastern waif had decided to hang on a day
or two. But for all those present, huge waves of relief and then
elation came along in quick succession, as the star of the show
took a bow somewhere around 7.35am. The rest, as they say, is
history. The bird performed well, off and on throughout the day,
to an ever-increasing gallery of admirers. By the middle of the
day, hundreds of birders were enraptur
ed by the gladiatorial visitor performing in its very own little
northeastern amphitheatre. And the show continued throughout the
24th as well. There were nervous moments early doors, with no
sign of the bird until well after 8am but, again, from then on
this glorious bird showed well to all comers, before taking its
final curtain call at dusk. Heavy hearts abounded for those
on-site on 25th: both the Eastern Crowned Warbler and its
temporary travelling companion, the Yellow-browed Warbler, had
departed. But history had finally been made, with this
long-predicted vagrant making a bid to be one of the most popular
birds of the (modern) twitching era.

The Durham Eastern Crowned Warbler, once accepted, will become
the fifth record for the Western Palearctic, following on from
the historic record on Helgoland, Germany in October 1843 and
three records from the 2000s: Norway in September 2002, Finland
in October 2004 (the exact date of arrival just one day after
that of the Durham bird) and, most recently, the Netherlands in
October 2007. It has also made a little more history in being the
first Eastern Crowned Warbler to linger for more than one day,
though that's small comfort for those unable to travel before
Sunday. Still, four records in Europe in the past seven years
plainly offers a ray of hope.

Anything else this week, bar, oh I don't know, a Cerulean Warbler
on Scilly or Cape Clear, was going to be relegated to "also-ran"
status, but that's no way to view the outstanding birds
discovered in Ireland over the weekend. Just sneaking it in this
particular two-horse race (certainly in terms of Western
Palearctic appearances) was the country's second MOURNING DOVE,
found at Garinish Point (Cork) on 25th. The first Irish bird was
found out on Inishbofin off the coast of Galway in November 2007
but, unlike that bird, this year's offering was an AM-only bird.
That may have come as something of a disappointment to any
travelling souls on the road after taking a peek at the
first-winter COMMON NIGHTHAWK, picked up and taken into care at
Reenard Point in County Kerry on 24th. This was a massive bird
for Irish listers and news that the bird was to be released the
following morning must have been a relief. More relief came when
it was known that the US vagrant had managed to sur
vive the night and, after release at nearby Cahersiveen, the bird
lingered on tracks in the local park for around half an hour
before flying off. Quite how any individual views the "ticking"
of a picked-up-and-cared-for bird is a discussion for somewhere
other than the Weekly Review; some will tick regardless, others
will see the bird as "tainted". Whatever, it's a fantastic bird
and only the second for Ireland - the first appeared at
Ballydonegan, exactly 10 years ago to the day on October 24th
1999 (you've got to love these birding coincidences).

Elsewhere, the first-winter BROWN SHRIKE was still enjoying life
on Staines Moor (Surrey), being present to 28th. Having clocked
up over a fortnight already it becomes, comfortably, the
longest-staying Brown Shrike in Britain (it needs to rattle in an
extra day or two before it beats the Irish record, the adult
female at Ballyferriter in 1999 spending 19 days in Kerry).
Talking of records, the ZITTING CISTICOLA at Pegwell Bay (Kent)
was seen again on 28th, ten days after its last appearance, and
nearly reaching a century of days since it was first seen.

The north of Ireland recorded its second FEA'S PETREL in just
over a week on 25th, one flying past Ramore Head (Antrim) - maybe
there's one living off the coast right now? Two GREAT SHEARWATERS
flew past Arranmore (Donegal) on 25th, while 26 BALEARIC
SHEARWATERS were seen passing Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on the same
date. Just over a dozen POMARINE SKUAS were reported, seven of
them heading past Kilcummin Head (Mayo) on 25th. Just a handful
of GREY PHALAROPES were noted, including one or two birds off
Portland (Dorset) on 23rd and two off Porthgwarra on 25th.

In County Cork, the adult SABINE'S GULL was still at Cobh
throughout the week, popping up at nearby Cuskinny Marsh during
the week as well. Another Irish bird was seen from Bridges of
Ross (Clare) on 25th. A Sabine's Gull was seen off Flamborough
Head (East Yorkshire) on 22nd, and in Fife an adult passed Fife
Ness on 23rd. The following day saw two juveniles logged in the
county, both seen off Kinghorn. Another juvenile was noted, on
the same day, heading by Galley Head (Cork), and on 25th a
juvenile was seen off North Shields (Northumberland) with two
more off Mullaghmore Head (Sligo). In Norfolk, a juvenile was
seen around Eccles-on-Sea on 26th. There were no real numbers of
LITTLE AUKS to report either: singles or twos only this week.

New GLOSSY IBIS records this week included one at Graveney
Marshes (Kent) on 22nd-23rd, one at North Duffield Carrs (North
Yorkshire) on 23rd and three that flew over Hengistbury Head
(Dorset) on the morning of 25th. Three Glossy Ibises remained
around Somerset's wetlands to 26th and two lingering birds were
still at Dungeness (Kent), with singles still in Cambridgeshire,
Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Northumberland, Aberdeenshire and

A CATTLE EGRET was found at Mizen Head (Cork) on 22nd, and was
still present to 24th at least. Other new arrivals this week were
at Bridgend, on Islay (Argyll) on 24th (with two birds at
Redhouses the following day), at Carr Vale NR (Derbyshire) on
25th (and Ogston Reservoir on 28th) and on the Hayle Estuary
(Cornwall) on 26th. Two Cattle Egrets were still together in
Hampshire during the week, at least three birds remained around
the Somerset Levels, and one was still at Dungeness to 28th.

The latter two sites also continued to host single GREAT WHITE
EGRETS this week, with others noted in Suffolk (up to four birds
there, two on the coast at Minsmere on 27th, and two on the
Norfolk border at Lakenheath on 28th), Cumbria and Lancashire
(three birds at Leighton Moss on 27th-28th). Fresh individuals
were seen over St. Mary's (Scilly) on 22nd, at Hanningfield
Reservoir (Essex) on 22nd (and again on 25th and 27th), The
Spinnies (Gwynedd) on 25th, and Testwood Lakes (Hampshire) and
Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) on 26th.

Fourteen SPOONBILLS were seen around Brownsea Island (Dorset)
during the week, while seven were at Isley Marsh (Devon) on 24th.
Five birds remained at Dinham Flats (Cornwall) and two groups of
four were seen during the week, at Timoleague (Cork) and around
Bryher and Tresco (Scilly). Three Spoonbills remained at Abberton
Reservoir (Essex) to 27th with two at Inner Marsh Farm
(Cheshire), while singles were noted in Cornwall, West Sussex and
Pembrokeshire. Five COMMON CRANES were at the Welney WWT reserve
in Norfolk on 22nd-28th and three birds were seen over Rutland
Water (Leicestershire) on 23rd. A juvenile Common Crane was seen
near Sandford (Isle of Wight) from 22nd-27th.

A WHITE STORK (thought to be an escape) was at St. John's Fen End
(Norfolk) on 22nd, with another seen near Corbridge
(Northumberland) on 25th. A SPOTTED CRAKE was again on the Abbey
Pool, Tresco (Scilly) and another was seen at Rainham Marshes
(London) on 27th-28th.

The obliging white SNOW GOOSE remained in the stubble fields
between Docking and Brancaster (Norfolk) to 27th (with a little
jaunt to the nearby marshes at Burnham Overy on 25th), and the
blue bird remained around Loch Fleet (Highland) to 28th. At least
one RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE was still around Islay (Argyll) on
24th-28th and another Richardson's was seen at Lissadell (Sligo)
from 25th. A larger Canada Goose sp. was also at Lissadell from
25th onwards and, on 26th, a LESSER CANADA GOOSE sp. (a parvipes
or interior) was at Marton Mere (Lancashire) - two birds have
been reported there recently. Also on 26th, a confirmed Lesser
Canada Goose (parvipes) was at Bridgend, Islay (along with two
young Canada Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrids). Single BLACK BRANTS
were noted in Dorset, Hampshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and
County Down, while the origins of two sets of two RED-BREASTED
GEESE, in Essex and Jersey, is unknown, but both twosomes have
been seen with DARK-BELLIED BRE

Back in Norfolk, the GREEN-WINGED TEAL remained on the Cley
Marshes reserve until 27th at least, and single drakes at Siddick
Ponds (Cumbria) and Kinneil Lagoon (Forth) also made it to
another week. A new bird on the Loch of Hillwell (Shetland) was
present from 24th-27th and further new arrivals were on Islay and
North Ronaldsay, both on 28th. A drake or hybrid Green-winged
Teal appeared at Marshside RSPB (Lancashire) on 22nd. The drake
BLUE-WINGED TEAL was again at Port Clarence (Cleveland) on
24th-26th and the regular female was still at Bull Island
(Dublin) on 23rd. Faring less well was the first-winter drake
that was shot by wildfowlers on the North Slob NNR (Wexford) on
24th. The only AMERICAN WIGEON of the week was the drake that
lingered on The Gearagh (Cork) until 25th at least.

Both of October's drake LESSER SCAUP remained in place at the
start of the week, at Draycote Water (Warwickshire) and Cardiff
Bay (Glamorgan), and all bar one of the week's six RING-NECKED
DUCKS were also familiar fixtures - at Blagdon (Somerset),
Foxcote Reservoir (Buckinghamshire), Westport Lake
(Staffordshire), near Macroom on The Gearagh, and on Oxford
Island NNR (Armagh). The odd one out was a drake at Kirkby on
Bain (Lincolnshire) on 26th-28th. The wintering drake FERRUGINOUS
DUCK at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) was still present to 27th at

A single drake SURF SCOTER was found in the waters off
Burrafirth, Unst (Shetland) on 22nd and remained there until
24th. This was the sole record of the species this week.

In Kent, a possible pale-morph ELEONORA'S FALCON was reported
flying in off the sea at Hope Point just after noon on 23rd. This
continues the spate of potential Eleonora's Falcon records this
autumn, though this is the first pale bird to be claimed. A BLACK
KITE flew north over Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 26th (although
the island's sixth NUTHATCH the same day may have caused almost
as much excitement!). Just three ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS to report
this week were at Cotehill Loch (Aberdeenshire) on 22nd, over Old
Woman's Lane, Cley on 27th and at Northleach (Gloucestershire) on
28th. A young female SNOWY OWL remained on Tory Island (Donegal)
to 28th.

After several weeks of plenty of different individuals and
lingering birds, the tally of AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER dropped to
five or six birds this week: a juvenile was again at Carrahane
Strand (Kerry) on 23rd and two birds (an adult and a juvenile)
were at Kirkistown (Derry) on 25th (along with a Dotterel). The
week ended with birds at Old Moor (South Yorkshire) on 27th and
on the Casheen Estuary (Kerry) and at Portavogie (Down) on 28th.
Another DOTTEREL was on Ouse Fen (Cambridgeshire) on 28th. In
Norfolk, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was found at Cley on 25th, and
was still present the following day.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER records this week consisted of the two
juveniles appearing again at Banks Marsh (Lancashire) on 22nd and
27th, another again at Connah's Quay (Clwyd) on 25th, and a new
bird popping up on the same day at Browhouses (Dumfries &
Galloway). On 26th, the fifth bird of the week was seen at
Baleshare, North Uist (Outer Hebrides), and on 28th a juvenile
was again at Inner Marsh Farm (Cheshire). The LESSER YELLOWLEGS
at Aberlady Bay (Lothian) was still present to 28th, while a
generally poor week for shorebirds was bolstered a little with a
handful of new PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, new birds appearing at Cley
(Norfolk), at Port Clarence (Cleveland), on North Uist (Outer
Hebrides) and at Tramore (Donegal), while birds at Eyebrook
Reservoir and Lound GPs remained into another week.

The adult Azorean YELLOW-LEGGED GULL was back at Appleford Tip
near Didcot (Oxfordshire) on 28th; perhaps a winter's stay is on
the cards for the handsome brute. An adult LAUGHING GULL was
reported from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (Berkshire)
on 28th. Four of the five RING-BILLED GULLS this week included
the recently returned adult at Walpole Park, Gosport (Hampshire)
and further adults at Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex), Nimmo's Pier
(Galway) and Portrush (Antrim). A second-winter Ring-billed Gull
was at Rossall Point (Lancashire) on 28th. At least 18 CASPIAN
GULLS included two each for Beddington, Dungeness, Blackborough
End Tip, Appleford Tip, Chasewater and Stubber's Green, with a
couple of additional singles in Kent, elsewhere in London,
Cornwall (a second bird at Sennen), Oxfordshire, Worcestershire,
Leicestershire and Derbyshire. It was a low-scoring match between
ICELAND GULLS and GLAUCOUS GULLS this week, ending in a 3-2 win
for the big boys of hyperboreus.

The sizeable pulse of warm southerly air on 27th was responsible
for the arrival of four RED-RUMPED SWALLOWS, the first of which
was seen at Witcham (Cambridgeshire) and was followed by one at
Porth Meudwy (Gwynedd) and two together at Kilnsea (East
Yorkshire). Another appeared at Kilminning the following day. The
next question is, will the Pallid Swifts follow?

Devon's first BLACK-THROATED THRUSH was a terrific find at
Scorriton on Dartmoor on the afternoon of 27th. County listers
were delighted the following day when the bird was seen
throughout the afternoon alongside the River Mardle. What may
well have been another Black-throated Thrush was glimpsed twice
along a north-Norfolk hedgerow, before departing high to the
south with a passing flock of Fieldfares, also on 27th.

A first-winter male PIED WHEATEAR continued Fife's impressive
little run of birds this week when it appeared at Fife Ness on
the afternoon of 26th. There are only two previous records of the
species in the county, including Britain's first in 1909 (known
to have been of the rare white-throated form vittata) while the
second for the county, also at Fife Ness, was seen in September
1992. The 2009 bird remained to 28th.

The seventh RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL of the autumn was found at
Bempton Cliffs (East Yorkshire) on 23rd and remained until 25th
at least (doubtless drawing in a few southbound warbler-watchers
to boot). At Spurn, the Red-flanked Bluetail trapped there on
18th was caught again on 26th, and remained to 27th at least. The
Bempton bird sees East Yorkshire take the lead in the Bluetail
stakes this autumn, outscoring Shetland by three birds to two.

In Kent, a SIBERIAN STONECHAT was at St. Margaret's at Cliffe on
24th, while in Cornwall a SHORT-TOED LARK was reported from
Marazion on the same date. Another Short-toed Lark was on Tory
Island on 26th, and on Scilly a BLUETHROAT was on St. Mary's on
28th. A HOOPOE was on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 22nd and one
was photographed and suppressed in Devon on 25th. Another Hoopoe
was reported belatedly near Portree on the Isle of Skye
(Highland) on 18th, while a WAXWING was on Lewis (Outer Hebrides)
on 26th.

A first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL was found on Tresco (Scilly) on
25th, the second of the autumn for the islands. Three
OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS were found in southern England during the
week. The first was seen briefly on St. Agnes (Scilly) on 23rd
and the same date saw one arrive on Lundy (Devon), this bird
still present to 25th (representing just the fourth county record
and the first since a wintering bird in south Devon in 1997). The
24th saw another Olive-backed Pipit make landfall at Sandy Point
(Hampshire), also a fourth county record, and the first there
since one in October 1999. Not wanting to be left out, Shetland
rattled in another Olive-backed Pipit for their autumn haul, one
found at Levenwick on 26th.

As well as an Olive-backed Pipit on 23rd, Devon also saw the
appearance of a RED-THROATED PIPIT, one in crop fields at Orcombe
Point, and another was seen on Skomer (Pembrokeshire), again on
23rd. Heard-only Red-throated Pipits flew over Portland on 27th
and Kenidjack (Cornwall) on 28th. Over 20 RICHARD'S PIPITS were
seen during the week and they included the unusually long-staying
twosome on the Farnes (Northumberland), while one at Langford
Lowfields (Nottinghamshire) on 24th and two on Welsh islands
(Skomer and Bardsey) on 26th were also of note.

Six GREAT GREY SHRIKES this week included the lingering bird at
Grove Ferry (Kent) and new arrivals on 23rd at Cross Inn Forest
(Ceredigion), Ethie Mains (Angus) and Drums (Aberdeenshire).
Another Great Grey Shrike was in the Ashdown Forest (East Sussex)
on 25th and the same date saw one return to Dersingham Bog
(Norfolk). A juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE was at Bempton Cliffs
from 22nd and another was in the Manse garden on Fetlar
(Shetland) on 24th.

A MARSH WARBLER showed well around the Big Pool on St. Agnes
(Scilly) on 23rd-24th and BARRED WARBLERS managed at least eight
birds this week, including four birds in County Cork between 22nd
and 24th (at Old Head of Kinsale and Power Head on 22nd, Three
Castles Head on 23rd and Knockadoon Head on 24th). The others
were seen in Aberdeenshire (two there), Northumberland and East

The WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER on the Calf of Man was re-trapped
on 23rd (it was originally caught there on 17th and hadn't been
reported subsequently). Favourable conditions throughout much of
the week produced a further 10 RADDE'S WARBLERS for the autumn's
haul. Three birds were found on 22nd, at Thorpeness (Suffolk),
Holy Island (Northumberland) and East Haven (Angus), and two more
followed on 23rd, at Girdle Ness (Aberdeenshire) and Fife Ness
(Fife). The 24th saw a Radde's Warbler appear on St. Mary's
(Scilly), singles on 26th were found at St. Levan (Cornwall) and
Wells Woods (Norfolk), and on 28th new birds were found on St.
Agnes (Scilly) and Cape Clear Island (Co.Cork).

Three DUSKY WARBLERS were also discovered during the week. The
first appeared at Power Head in Cork on 22nd and was followed by
two birds on 23rd, at Dungeness (Kent) and Flamborough Head (East
Yorkshire). An ARCTIC WARBLER was reported from Capel le Ferne
(Kent) on 22nd (the first in the county since 1996, and only the
fourth ever - although one in 2003 doesn't seem to have made the
record books).

At least 50 YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS were reported during the week,
mainly scattered along the east coast, although the odd one made
it to Scilly, Shetland and Ireland as well. The 22nd saw five of
the week's fourteen PALLAS'S WARBLERS arrive: two were in
Lincolnshire (at Donna Nook and Humberston Fitties) with singles
at Flamborough Head, on Holy Island and at Collieston
(Aberdeenshire). Aberdeenshire and Northumberland grabbed another
one each on 23rd, at Balmedie and Beal respectively, while one
was found at Finstown (Orkney) on the same day. On 24th, it was
Hope Point in Kent that welcomed this ever-glorious little
far-flung visitor, and on 25th one was found at Denburn Wood,
Crail (Fife), with Norfolk's second of the autumn appearing at
Hopton-on-Sea on 26th. The same date saw another Pallas's arrive
in Fife, at Balcomie Castle, and on 27th one was in The Parsonage
on St. Agnes and another was in Worthing (West Sussex). A
ess Muir on 23rd and a possible was reported on Tresco on 26th.

The identity of a GREENISH WARBLER found at Church Cove on the
Lizard (Cornwall) on 28th was the subject of some debate as the
day progressed. Such a late date was always going to be a talking
point, and by close of play GREEN WARBLER was being suggested as
a possibility; the only accepted record remains the bird seen on
Scilly in the autumn of 1983.

Six or seven RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS were found this week: the
first was on Cape Clear Island (Cork) on 23rd (with one there on
26th as well) and was followed by two on 24th, at Cove Bay
(Aberdeenshire) and Swining (Shetland), two on 25th, at Carne
(Wexford) and Cruden Bay (also in Aberdeenshire) and then, back
on Shetland, one at Levenwick on 27th.

A male PENDULINE TIT was seen at Strumpshaw Fen (Norfolk) on 22nd
(two were seen here in February and March this year) and another
was found at Dungeness (Kent) on 25th. Juvenile ROSE-COLOURED
STARLINGS remained on St. Agnes (Scilly) and at St. Ives
(Cornwall) for much of the week and another juvenile was found at
Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) on 28th. Single SERINS were seen on
Bryher on 25th-28th and singles followed the next day, over
Land's End and at Hengistbury Head (Dorset). The final Serin of
the week flew over Lizard Point on 28th.

Three LITTLE BUNTINGS were seen on Shetland, two of them on Unst
(at Skaw and Halligarth), with the other on Whalsay (at
Sandwick). The fourth of the week was seen at Flamborough Head on
23rd and the fifth followed on Tresco, on 26th, while bird six
remained on North Ronaldsay to 28th. Four COMMON ROSEFINCHES were
seen on 22nd, two of them together on Cape Clear, the others
noted at Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland) and on St. Mary's
(Scilly). The Northern Isles provided singles on Whalsay
(Shetland) on 27th and Stromness (Orkney) on 28th. Back on
Scilly, on Gugh, a probable BLACKPOLL WARBLER was reported
briefly in the plantation on 25th.

If you are fortunate enough to encounter anything of interest, or
if you have travelled to see one of the birds mentioned on our
Bird News Extra page, please:

- use the web page
- call us on 0333 577 2473
- email us at 
- text BIRDS RPT (followed by the details) to 07786 200505
  Colin Reid
So many birds, so little time...... 

-- - Same, same, but different...


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