Diary - May to July 2002

For other quarter year diary archives, go to the Diary page by clicking here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

31st July 2002 - Today I received the following:-
Information on the colour ringed Herring Gull (Red JX) see 20th July 2002. Red JX (GN21054) Ringed 2/7/99 at Harnhill. Several sightings between Sep 99 and Dec 01 there. Also seen Gloucester tip Jan 01, Dec 01 and Jan 02.

30th July 2002 - Slimbridge. Lunchtime, 9 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and many Redshank were present on South Lake. At 1400, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, at least 72 Curlew and 1 Whimbrel were on the estuary at near the Midpoint Hide. The find of the day, however, was on the Robbie Garnett Hide scrape where along with at least 17 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 2 Common Snipe out in the open, was a juvenile Wood Sandpiper. This fresh-looking, trim and sleek individual was very active, feeding fast and at one point went into an epileptic typr fit, thrashing around in the water and apparently flying on one wing back and forth very quickly over about 2 metres. It then began scratching its head vigorously for some time and then went into a conventional bathing routine before feeding again. Perhaps it had been bothered by one of the many insects present on what was a very hot and humid afternoon with storms visible on the horizon.

28th July 2002 - I have been reading the literature regarding the leg and feet colour of Little Egrets. I have consulted Bird of the Western Palearctic and Collins Bird Guide. Both indicate that the yellow is confined to the feet and may reach a few millimetres up the leg. The bird that I saw on the River Severn last Saturday had the yellow reaching more than a third of the way up from the feet towards the joint. Just like long yellow socks! It would be interesting to receive any comments on this feature.

27th July 2002 - A quiet day at Ashleworth. The forecast was for 25 plus degrees and wall to wall sunshine - the reality was 21 degrees and drizzle! A flock of 30 odd Swallows were passing through and hawking insects among the cattle in a field off Slank Lane. A single juvenile Redstart there was further prood of breeding.

25th July 2002 - Slimbridge at lunchtime. 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, more than 80 Redshank and a Dunlin were on South Lake. On the same water body at 1700, the Black-headed Gull numbers exceeded 1200. The Common Tern chick which was bred on one of the rafts on this lake is doing well, is flying and plunge diving.

24th July 2002 - A late afternoon and early evening walk along the short trail at Nagshead was very tranquil. There was no wind but it was warm and fairly sunny and no people were seen. The woods were very quiet with virtually no bird sound. The quiet rustling in the leaf litter was made by many Dor Beetles which seemed to abound. A very pleasant evening.

23rd July 2002 - A Grey Squirrel in the garden at 0610 was only the third sighting in the 14 years that I have lived here.

22nd July 2002 - A Tawny Owl woke me up in the early hours and its calling also caused some of the local cats to start calling loudly as well!

20th July 2002 A morning trip with Alan Baxter down the river. First stop was Midpoint Hide, Slimbridge and at 10.00am, 2 Sandwich Terns were on the mud just to the south of the hide with a number of Black-headed Gulls. Also present were 2 Little Egret, 32+ Dunlin, 3 Whimbrel and 2 Great-crested Grebe. At the Robbie Garnett hide scrape, 8 Green Sandpipers and 1 Snipe and finally on South Lake, 1 Black-tailed Godwit(no rings), 59 Redshank and 1 Ruff.
At New Passage, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Turnstone and a Herring Gull with a red darvic ring with the white inscription 'JX'. A short distance away at Orchard Ponds, a Mute Swan with a metal ring, 'X1504' and lots of dragonflies and damselflies.

18th July 2002 - Slimbridge. A walk to the new hide again at Mid Point. Very quiet on the river but 2 Little Egret, 2 Dunlin, an Oystercatcher and a Whimbrel were among the Curlew. The walkway was awash with butterflies, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Tortoiseshell, Marbled White.
On South Lake in the afternoon, 3 Black-tailed Godwits included an individual with a set of colour rings - White above Red above the joint on the right leg and a single white below the joint whereas on the left leg only a white ring below the joint. There were 2 Ruff and among the Black-headed Gulls was one with a German ring, 1A0744 but I suspect that there are more digits that I could not see.

17th July 2002 - Slimbridge. A mid morning visit to South Lake on a warm and sunny day revealed much the same birds as yesterday. They inluded 2 Ruff, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Oystercatcher and a single Dunlin. Yesterday I was unable to find the Common Tern chick on its raft. Today, one parent and the chick were on the next raft which has less vegetation on it. Thus the chick is doing well and is as big as a parent. Two Black-headed Gulls were of note. One with a darvic ring, 'RFK' white letters on black on the left leg is a bird ringed on the Channel coast of France on 9/6/2000 and also seen by myself at Slimbridge on 15/11/2001. The second gull had a metal ring of Estonian origin, specifically, Matsalu Bay. The number was U495589. This was ringed at Voiste, Parnu, Estonia on 18/6/98 and I had seen it on South Lake on 16/8/99.

16th July 2002 - Slimbridge. At lunchtime, among the 72 Redshank on South Lake were 1 Black-tailed Godwit in fine summer plumage and 2 Ruff. Of the many Black-headed Gulls present, I was able to read a metal ring - ES27680. This was ringed at Hempstead, Gloucester on 11/11/96 and I have seen it on 12/2/99, 11/8/99 and 13/8/99 all at Slimbridge.

15th July 2002 - Nagshead, Forest of Dean on a very warm and sunny day. I was looking for Odonata but found very few specimens. Two Anisopterans were too distant and did not settle and I was unable to identify them. Bird life, as expected was quiet but a count of 31 Greylag Geese, including 10 juveniles composed of two groups of 5, proved breeding at Speech House Lake. Grey Wagtails were in their usual spot at the waterfall at the southern end of Cannop Ponds but I did find one of this species in a tree along one of the rides near New Fancy View, which was an unlikely location. I found 2 Slow-worms near New Fancy View but both were dead including a very small individual. They were the casualities of bikes on the cycle way and were probably not intentionally run over. Butterflies were generally in short supply although the most common by far were Ringlets. However, a Silver-washed Fritillary flew past me in Russells Inclosure and find of the day was a White Admiral near the outfall of Cannop Ponds. This was the highlight to what was up until then an average day.

14th July 2002 - Ashleworth monthly wildfowl counts. 2 Mute Swans, 1 Canada Goose and additionally for the count form, 2 Buzzard and 1 Kestrel 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Herring Gull.
Apart from fighting off a swarm of flying ants in the hide, the morning was glorious, warm, sunny and calm. The resident Chiffchaff is still singing and some juvenile Common Whitethroat have appeared just along the lane where Treecreeper, Blackcap, Reed Bunting were seen and Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler are also to be heard, if distantly. Later in the morning, there appeared a small passage of Swallows.

13th July 2002 - A short morning walk at Ashleworth. There appeared to be a number of Reed Warblers, both singing and often very visible in the rushes opposite the hide. This is not the usual practice as they tend to be further back from the road and usually out of earshot from the road. The reason for the visit, on a very warm and sunny morning was to survey the odonata (See page). While searching the pools, I came across some Otter tracks in the mud exposed by the falling water levels. A nice find to known that this rare and elusive animal has visited the reserve.

12th July 2002 - A lunchtime stroll along the new 'Summer Walk' at WWT Slimbridge. This allows visitors to get close to the river and there is a moveable hide in the form of a converted old ambulance. From there I found a single Whimbrel amongst the scattering of Curlew. Also, tucked underneath the river bank were about 30 Dunlin in superb summer plumage and a Little Egret 'strolled by' on the mud.

11th July 2002 - The Green Woodpecker woke me up again this morning.
A lunchtime walk at WWT, Slimbridge yielded 75 Redshank and over 400 Black-headed Gulls on South Lake. A careful search failed to reveal a Mediterranean Gull. From the Robbie Garnett hide, several migrants were present including Garganey, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper.

10th July 2002 - The Great Spotted Woodpecker woke me up again this morning but this time it was earlier at 0445.
This morning I paid a visit to Ashleworth. The Chiffchaff was still singing by the hide but the noticable feature today was the number of Swallow low over one of the fields off Stank Lane. There were in excess of 50 with one Sand Martin in attendance and often these birds would perch momentarily on some of the shrubby hedgerows. In the fresh puddles, formed after the hours of heavy rain yesterday, numerous Diving Beetles were on show. More Odonata were recorded (see page).
I have carefully looked at the trees which border Ham Road to the south of the hide. The trees on the reserve side (to the east) appear to be in poor condition generally. Some have very few leaves and others have yellowing leaves as well as some specimens which appear to be dead. In contrast the trees on the other side of the road seem to be in reasonable condition. I believe that the former, being lower down and bordering a ditch, are more prone to longer periods with their roots and lower part of their trunks covered by flood water in the winter. This condition can sometimes last for several weeks. The trees to the west are on a bank and are rarely, if ever troubled by floods. Trees along Stank Lane which is also frequently flooded in winter are also looking poor. The situation need monitoring.
During the afternoon I walked from Splatt Bridge, Frampton to Junction Bridge and back. Again, more Odonata recorded but the main reason was to see what state the Great Narles was in. Indeed, it has dried up and the only birds present were 2 Lapwing, 2 Carrion Crow, a Grey Heron and a Little Egret. At Splatt Bridge, a female Mallard sported a ring, GF47504. I will submit this to the BTO but I suspect that it was ringed at Slimbridge. The Mute Swan pair at this bridge, one with orange ring AABH still have their cygnet. Further up the canal, half way to Fretherne Bridge, another pair, white ring VT with an unringed mate has 5 cygnets, about half adult size and at Fretherne Bridge, there appears to be a one parent family of 4 cygnets.

8th July 2002 - By sheer coincidence I was again woken this morning by a Woodpecker calling but this time it was a few minutes earlier and was a different species, Great Spotted Woodpecker, in the same trees.

7th July 2002 - I was woken up this morning at 06.30 by a Green Woodpecker 'yaffling' in the Corsican Pine trees opposite my house.

6th July 2002 - A morning visit to Ashleworth to look for Odonata (see that page). I took the opportunity to noted the butterflies of the day and found only Small Tortoiseshell and Small White. This is in keeping with the lack of these creatures so far this summer. A Reed Warbler could be heard singing from the hide which is fairly unusual as they tend to be further east on the reserve. As I watched, both a Wren and a Blackcap were giving alarm calls to the right of the hide. I went out to investigate expecting perhaps a Fox or Badger but found a Buzzard in the thicket which flew out at my approach. Th hide resident Chiffchaff is still singing. During the afternoon I made a quick visit to Nagshead to photograph some Common Spotted Orchids.

5th July 2002 - A short visit to Slimbridge produced a Kingfisher from the Robbie Garnett hide which is not the usual location for this species. Also there were 5 Green Sandpipers. The Common Tern on South Lake still has its chick and at least 73 Redshank were present at lunchtime. At home, a first for the garden was a Ringlet butterfly.

4th July 2002 - A morning spent at Ashleworth where 38 species were noted. The usual Chiffchaff and Blackcap (total of 2M and 1F noted in the area) were singing in the copse by the hide yet again and the Common Whitethroat was doing likewise near the farm. A Dunnock in the lane by the hide sported a ring on its left leg and a Treecreeper was beavering around the large oak trees in the thicket. Apart from the apparently injured Canada Goose, the only waterfowl noted were 4 Mallard. Additionally, 2 Cormorant overflew. A pair of Linnet at the top of Stank Lane included a male in exceptional brilliant plumage. Juveniles in evidence were Robin, Common Whitethroat, Dunnock and Long-tailed Tit, the latter in a small flock in the lane. Of significance on the waterside vegetation along the rhines were an abundance of Ladybird larvae. At home, the first juvenile Goldfinch of the year turned up in the garden and in the afternoon a party of Goldcrest passed through including at least 3 juveniles.

2nd July 2002 - I received notification from the BTO of details of a Black-headed Gull that I saw 29th December 2001 at Slimbridge. The ring number was ST200434 and it was ringed on 18th June 1998 as a nestling in Hyvinkaa, Uusimaa, Finland. A lunchtime at Slimbridge where the Common Terns which nested on a raft on South Lake appear to have one chick. One of the adults has a metal ring on its right leg which was the same as the birds which nested there last year. It is probably the same pair or at least one of the birds is the same. The chick runs around on the raft and has survived so far even though there are usually two Lesser Black-backed Gulls which regularly feed on newly hatched Coot and Moorhen chicks and any ducklings which are out of reach of the adults.

30th June 2002 - Churchdown - A pair of Yellowhammer at the Churchdown end of the lane to Brockworth was fairly unusual in that location.

29th June 2002 - At home, a run of newly fledged juvenile have arrived in the garden. They include 2 Greenfinch, 1 Robin and a Blackbird. At Ashleworth, this trend continues with a family of young Magpie near the hide and a number of young House Sparrow at the farm. This is pleasing to see in a species which appears to be declining rapidly. A large number of young Starling were also present as was a single juvenile Grey Heron. The pattern of recent weeks continues at Ashleworth with the singing Chiffchaff at the hide, a pair of Bullfinch by the farm entrance as well as a single singing Sedge Warbler and a calling Reed Bunting. Between the hide and the farm, a roving Common Whitethroat continues to sing. This bunch of birds have been very predictable over the last few weeks.

28th June 2002 - A beautiful, sunny day. A lunchtime stroll around Slimbridge saw both Black-headed Gulls and Redshank beginning to flock. 125 of the former and about 40 of the latter were present on South Lake. Summer is still present in the colours of the Black-tailed Godwits also present. The 2 Common Tern that are nesting on one of the rafts have been joined by another 2 which led to some commotion. The following Mute Swan darvic rings were noted:- Orange - E86, AACU, AAKG, AAKR, AAEU, AAFD, AACP, AALX, AAEG, AAAH, AALZ, AABB, AAHX, AABF, AADC, 2FF, AAJZ, AAAN, AADP and White MU, KZ, RL, MN, EF. A hovering raptor at the side of the M5 motorway just south of Upton St Leonards turned out to be a Buzzard and not the expected Kestrel. I had a good view as the traffic was stationary at the time (1730).

26th June 2002 - A morning trip to Ashleworth on a glorious morning that was of clear blue sky but it was not a hot day. Only 4 Mallard were on the water but a walk up Stank Lane revealed quite a bit of activity in terms of breeding. A family party of Treecreeper was gradually 'pushed' along the lane. This little flock was at least 4 strong and juvenile Blue Tits were present in the same area. A male Redstart with food in its bill was making a commotion at my presence indicating that it had some juveniles or nestlings nearby and some of the Long-tailed Tits were young birds. A juvenile Grey Heron was in the recently cut field which has seen a return of the corvid flock. At the top of the lane a juvenile Common Whitethroat was prominent in one of the large bushes which occur at intervals along the rhine. A large number of Starling were on the wires at the farm but in spite of carefull scrutiny I could not find a Rosy Starling ( many have been reported recently across the country).

22nd June 2002 - At Ashleworth, disaster may have overtaken the Lapwing chick as an adult was there on its own. The Chiffchaff which has been singing since early spring continues the tune and a Common Whitethroat voiced its presence.

18th June to 21 June 2002 - Three nights away in Norfolk. The highlights of the 103 species noted were Surf Scoter, Quail, Honey Buzzard and Golden Oriole.

15th June 2002 - A morning visit to Ashleworth. The vegetation has grown up a great deal over the last few weeks with the warm but wet weather. It is now difficult to see much water from the hide but some waterbirds remain including a solitary Teal and Canada Goose which has a drooping wing and possibly cannot fly. The best find of the day was of a Lapwing with at least 2 chicks which is proof of breeding at the site. Another adult was again noted in the same place in a field of emerging maize near to farm buildings north of the hide. Others noted include 1 Teal and 1 Grey Heron.

14th June 2002 - A new Collared Dove behavioural observation has taken place several times over the past three weeks here in my garden. I have an open-fronted nest box set in the foilage of a fruit tree. The box is unoccupied but often a Collared Dove flies in and lands on top of the box, bends forward and puts its breast in contact with the roof and begins to call. The call appears to be amplified by the box and the sound appears to 'boom' from the opening. Although the bird is less visible than when it calls from a TV aerial only metres from the box, the sound is much louder. There must be a trade off between being visible and the distance carried by the sound. Any comments?

11th June 2002 - Lunchtime at Slimbridge and a visit to South Lake were a Spotted Redshank had been reported. Sure enough, there was the bird in fine breeding plumage which was made to look more grey than it really was by the reflection of the sun on the water. When the bird was clear of the water, the stunning darkness was very apparent. An Oystercatcher chick was a good sign.

10th June 2002 - A late evening walk in the Forest of Dean to look for Nightjar. The chosen place was Oakenhill on a very cold and breezy night. Not the best conditions and a feature of the evening was the the Woodcock were flying quite low and were generally not visible against the sky, however by carefull searching several sightings were made and as the darkness encroached, at least one Nightjar started a reasonably continuous churring and gave some good aerial views.

9th June 2002 - An hour or so at Ashleworth on a cool and breezy and overcast day to do the monthly wildfowl count.
Ashleworth Wildfowl Count - 11 Mallard, 3 Teal, 1 Pintail, 1 Canada Goose, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Cormorant, 1 Lapwing, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull.

5th June 2002 - Ashleworth. I walked up the public bridleway to Barrow Hill to the west of the reserve where there is open scrub on the hillside. This looks to be a good area for breeding birds and may be better surveyed in late April. Although I am late in the year, a party of Common Whitethroat juveniles proved that breeding is taking place here. 7 Raven overflew while I was walking back. This was probably a family party.

4th June 2002 - A short trip to Frampton where the highlight was of a flying display along the canal by a Common Tern, looking for food and distantly on the river was a lone Grey Plover.

3rd June 2002 - An evening walk along the Coombe Hill canal. 43 species were logged including Lapwing in the field ajoining. Are they breeding and more to the point are they succeeding?

2nd June 2002 - Frampton in the morning and a quiet one at that until a Marsh Harrier appeared over the canal towpath and gradually drifted away to the south. It looked a tatty bird with heavy tail moult.

1st June 2002 - A morning walk in the Forest of Dean. At Crabtree Hill, at least one Turtle Dove was singing, this being a first for the year. Further on over the top of the hill, a Wood Warbler was reeling. There seems to be few of this species this year. Woorgreens Lake having been drained last year to eliminate introduced fish is still not full and there is plenty of mud but no waders. The only birds present in numbers were House Martins collecting mud from the waters edge.

31st May 2002 - Another visit to Frampton and the Cetti's Warbler seems to have had a new lease of life and is singing vigorously and on a fence post on the Great Narles, a Wheatear was prominent. The cygnet on the canal is still surviving.

29th May 2002 - A short time spent around Frampton. Again, a quiet day but the noticable feature was of a substantial Swift and House Martin presence. The Mute Swan pair at Splatt Bridge are now down to only one cygnet. Noted for the first time a wing-tagged (Yellow BD) Grey Heron on the Great Narles. Little Egret numbers were just 2.

28th May 2002 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve. Genrally a rainy day and the woodlands were very quiet but a walk down through the reserve to the stone cutting firm at the southern end of Cannop Ponds produced a Grey Wagtail at the outlet of the ponds. This is the usual place to find this species.

27th May 2002 - 4 Little Egrets at Frampton.

25th May 2002 - A morning trip to Ashleworth on a breezy and sunny morning with heavy showers. The Curlew were very vocal but only two were seen. On the reserve, at least 18 Mallard were present and 2 Teal. The male Pintail was still there but appears to have a drooping wing. 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Curlew and 7 Lapwing were also there.

23rd May 2002 - Only 4 Little Egrets could be found around the Great Narles and a Common Tern was over the canal as was a Green Woodpecker. On the Great Narles itself were a pair of Wigeon which seemed somewhat unusual. The find of the day was the first of the year of a Painted Lady butterfly on the foreshore. This was in very good condition suggesting a migrant of the year. Ashleworth in the evening produced 6 Curlew but no Snipe were drumming.

21st May 2002 - The Little Egret numbers still are being maintained in the Frampton area where 6 were present today. The two Mute Swan cygnets at Splatt Bridge continue to survive. They were basking in the sunshine on the grass by the bridge keepers house. The parents are AABH, orange ring and an unringed male. Quite a number Swifts were passing today.

19th May 2002 - It's not my weekend. Went to Frampton and found 1 Common Tern on the Sailing Lake. 4 Little Egret and 1 Greenshank on the Great Narles were fine and I hoped things would be looking up as the tide rose. But suddenly things went downhill. I noticed several vehicles that I did not recognise driving along the sea wall through the 100 acre in the distance. These were followed over the next few hours by 208 horses. I holed up at the breakwater and noted 7 Knot, 7 Ringed Plover and a Godwit as the tide rose. With all the horses gone I went home and as I did so I saw a helicopter land for a few moments on the old flood defence behind the Great Narles which flushed the Egrets etc. Not a good day.

18th May 2002 - Highnam Woods. One Nightingale singing but apart from a large flock of Carrion Crow and Jackdaw it was fairly quiet. At Nagshead, it was a day of ones and twos. Only two Pied Flycatcher, one Redstart, one Willow Warbler and two Wood Warblers in nearly 3 hours! Lots of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker (probably the same bird going to and fro) Chaffinches, Nuthatches, but where are the migrants?

15th May 2002 - A day at Slimbridge and at Frampton. There were many waders on the river including mixed flocks of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling. Also in evidence were 3 Grey Plover well into their summer plumage and now six Little Egret - when will they breed near here? Also in evidence were 1 Ruff, 7 Redshank, 12 Lapwing of which 6 are sitting on nests.

12th May 2002 - A short morning was spent at Ashleworth doing the monthly wildfowl count and then a short walk from the Wharf at Coombe Hill to the first bridge and back produced not the reported Cetti's Warbler but Common Whitethroat, a Goldfinch flock, two Willow Warblers, several Brimstone butterflies and the first multiple sightings of damselflies.
Ashleworth Wildfowl Count - 2 Mute Swan, 12 Grey Heron, 14 Coot, 39 Mallard, 2 Canada Goose, 2 Shoveler, 4 Teal, 5 Shelduck, 1 Lapwing, 1 Pintail, 1 Gadwall. Additionally, Cuckoo and Curlew heard but not seen. - Coombe Hill Canal Wharf - 2 Mute Swans, 1 unringed, 1 orange ring AAGX.

10th May 2002 - A day at Slimbridge and Frampton. A Common Snipe and Greenshank were on the Great Narles where Redshank and Lapwings were also present. A grand total of 5 Little Egrets were a good find in this area and on the river in the sunset were 9 Bar-tailed Godwits on a really warm afternoon.

8th May 2002 - Another day on the River Severn near Frampton. A quiet day but a Common Snipe was noted on the Great Narles. During the evening I visited Ashleworth Ham reserve where at dusk at least one Common Snipe was drumming. Both Tawny and Little Owls were out and about and a Badger was rustling about in the thicket. Apart from the Snipe, the other highlight was a Garganey calling at dusk, the bird having been seen earlier in the evening. Several Curlew were in flight.

7th May 2002 - A day down the River Severn at Frampton. A steady drizzle made the visibility poor but several Lapwing could be seen on Frampton Marsh, some appeared to be sitting on nests. Redshank were in evidence too, as was a Little Egret and a single Greenshank in the same field (Great Narles).

6th May 2002 - A rarity was in the garden in Churchdown this morning. This was a male House Sparrow. A very common bird during the 1990s but it became increasingly uncommon and now several months go by without one being seen. A trip to the Forest of Dean and Nagshead RSPB reserve in particular. It was a cold day but there was plenty of bird song. The aim of the day was to see Pied Flycatcher which eventually was found. They were quite difficult to locate but much more difficult to see were the Wood Warblers which were very easily found by their song but not easy to find in the foilage. Garden Warbler was another first for the year and one was singing at the top of the drive to the information centre. This location seems to hold one of this species in two of the last three years (not possible to check last year due to the closure of the Forest because of Foot and Mouth disease). A pair of Treecreepers were noted together, one of which was carrying nesting material. A careful watch yielded the nest site under the peeling bark of a dead sapling. The evening was spent on a walk on Chosen Hill. The Ravens which nested last year appear to be doing so again. Easily located by call and then it is very simple to locate the nest tree.

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