Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stirrings of Spring...the Simple Pleasures

'It is the first mild day of March
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door'
(William Shakespeare)

What a difference a few weeks make! After the sub zero temperatures of last month we now have clear signs of Spring all around us and what a treat it is, a long wait but well worth it. As a child my favourite season was Autumn, I loved the changing colours, the 'mellow fruitfulness' and the promise of Christmas just around the corner. But now... give me Spring any time... the tentative fresh green growth, warm sunshine, creatures all around preparing to bring new life into the world... so much promise! What could be better?

So, in just a few weeks we have gone from these Mallards on a frozen lake, wondering where the water went,


to this. Just look at the deep ruts in the ground, no wonder an official drought has been declared here!!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

'See her bright robes the Butterfly unfold,
Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of day,
What youthful bride can equal her array?'
(James Thomson)

What a treat, my first butterfly of the year! A real thrill and so eagerly awaited through the dull, drab days of Winter. When it took flight two more joined it from the undergrowth and it was such a pleasure to watch them dancing together in the sunlight. They would, of course, have only recently emerged from hibernation encouraged by the particularly warm, early Spring sunshine. What a shame it is that so many people are completely unaware of such simple pleasures as watching butterflies and of the wealth of natural beauty which surrounds them.

I was pleased to see a male Blackcap in the garden recently. They usually visit in the Winter and early Spring but I was beginning to think they were giving me a miss this year. Unfortunately I only managed one unusable photo. I did manage to snatch a quick and not very sharp photo of a couple of Long-tailed-Tits in the garden, through glass. It has been a while since I got any sort of photo of one of these despite having seen plenty flitting from tree to tree in various places.

Long-tailed Tits

It is always a joy to find Snowdrops growing wild.


'Hail, gentle Snowdrop, Spring's first flower,
No more we dread drear Winter's power:
We hail thy coming with delight,
Thy presence makes all nature bright. '
(William Count)

I thought I was destined not to get any photos of Siskins this time so I was very pleased to see some. They were high in a tree and quite distant and I mistakenly found the 'wrong one' through the camera's viewfinder. I realised when I looked at the photos on the computer that there was one on the end of a branch, lower in the tree. Oh well, at least I got something ;-)


I have always thought it would be nice to have a wildlife pond in the garden especially at this time of year when the frogs are so busy but I do think it is much more special to look for frogs and their spawn in the wild and for me it is another Springtime thrill. I found this quite by chance when I noticed water glistening through a hedge.

Common Frog

'What a wonderful bird the frog are--
When he sit, he stand almost.
When he hop, he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly.
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got--almost.'
(Virginia Hamilton)

It looked like there will be plenty of Tadpoles before too long which is good news as although called the 'Common Frog' it is unfortunately becoming much less common in the wild in the UK due to the diminishing number of ponds and use of insecticides.


Another species which has declined alarmingly in the UK is the delightful little Tree Sparrow. Over the last forty years there has been a dramatic drop in their numbers, as much as fifty percent in many areas! I hadn't seen one for years until just recently at the end of a short afternoon walk, as the light was failing and as I was about to get into the car, I spotted a small group in a hedge and managed to catch one on camera, I was thrilled and returned a few days later in better light but needless to say they were nowhere to be seen and it is a little awkward lurking in a country lane, outside a farmhouse and pointing a camera in the direction of the windows!


Finally, this cheeky little chap and I had great fun playing hide and seek with each other, he tried his best to avoid the camera but curiosity got the better of him :-)

Grey Squirrel

Until the next time... enjoy the beauty of nature, wherever you are.


  1. A ja kocham wiosnę :-). Uwielbiam patrzeć jak wszystko budzi się do życia : kwiaty, motyle, żaby ... i wszystko, co zimą spało. Cytaty, które przytoczyłeś są bardzo ciekawe. Zdjęcia ptaków żyjących w naturze cudne, a wiewiórka rozkoszna. Pozdrawiam cieplutko. *** And I love spring :-). I love to see how everything comes to life: flowers, butterflies, frogs ... and all that winter sleep. Quotes that are placed very interesting and nice . Photos of birds living in the wild wonderful and delightful squirrel. Yours warm.

  2. Hi Songbird,
    Lovely to see you're able to get out and enjoy some of that spring sunshine :-)

    Tree Sparrow would go down such a treat here, never had one!

    As for the drought, well the words ''Hosepipe'' and ''ban'' have been heard, so thats the summer written off then :-) :-) ;-)

  3. such great scenes of springtime! the squirrel and frog were my favorites!

  4. Excellent post as always Jan.
    Glad you got the Siskin; such beautiful little birds.
    Totally agree with your comment about the butterflies. Lovely to see them flitting about in the sunlight.

  5. I agree Jan, give me Spring every time. Watching the natural world wake up, ever so slowly, with a promise of all the goodies to come just cannot be beaten!
    I like the Frog poem and well done with the Siskin. But no more pictures of ice thankyou very much!
    Lovely post as ever.

  6. Giga

    Thank you Giga :-) Yes it is a lovely time of year with so much to look forward to. I think Winter may not have finished with us completely though as it has been quite cold here today.
    Dziękuję Giga :-) Tak to jest piękny czas w roku, tyle oczekujemy. Myślę, że zima nie może skończysz z nami całkowicie choć jak to było dość zimno dzisiaj.

    Warren Baker

    Hi Warren, thank you :-) I was really pleased to see the Tree Sparrows and will go back and see if I can find them again when I'm able. I agree, that's bound to put the kibosh on Summer ;-)


    Thank you Theresa, I was pleased to find the frogs, Spring is definitely on the way!


    Thank you Phil. Definitely the best time of year! I remember we had snow at the end of April once so I can't guarantee no more icy photos but I'll do my best ;-)

  7. holdingmoments

    So sorry Keith, I missed you out!! How could I!? :-)

    I wish I was able to find as many Siskins as you do but they always seem few and far between here. I miss the butterflies so much in the Winter, it's great to see them again :-)

  8. ah I do love Spring. It's all the old friends coming back and a tadge more warmth on my back!! ta for sharing!!

  9. Pete

    Thank you. I agree, not very warm here today though but at least we have it all to look forward to before long.

  10. You are so right, Spring is such an exciting time of year. You describe it in such a lovely way too, embelished with superb photos and poems - you should write a book! Well done with the Tree Sparrows; it's years since I last saw one.

  11. Hi Jan,
    Wonderful time of year, with the first buds just starting to tease us with what`s to come! Although, they are forecasting a couple of frosty nights, but it is only March.
    Lovely photo of the Long-tailed Tits, or as my wife calls them `badger birds`.
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  12. Lovely set of photos, Jan. Springtime...without a doubt my favourite time of year.

  13. Spring is mine as well Jan. Nice first butterfly sighting and it looks in pretty good shape as well.

  14. Absolutely delightful from beginning to end ~ filled with your beautiful photography, interesting commentary and fitting poetic excerpts! You have given me hope that Spring is actually on its way! We have had a wintry blast of late, with winds that have knocked down trees and power lines (not here, thankfully), so you can imagine what a treat your post is to me. I see my friend Quigley has a mate over there in the UK :)

  15. Shysongbird ,
    I see you have a 'sentry' on your post this time .
    I agree with Phil , thank you , but no more ice shots .
    I always say , get February out of the way , and then the year begins . Enjoyed your pictures and poems very much , as usual .

  16. Hi Jan super set of images and so glad that Spring is finally on its way. Love the Frog and the Siskin

  17. Great captures of the first signs of spring, Jan.The tortoise-shell is so beautiful. We don't see that in our area. As for the birds, it's always a pleasure to see your photos. Also loved that you included a picture of the English countryside. Happy Spring!

  18. Well done entrance, nice text and poems and precise pics that show thw spring is just round the corner!
    Saludos from pamplona Spain!

  19. What a beautiful set of photos - all showing brilliantly the arrival of Spring. I'm still waiting for my first butterfly sighting of the year.

  20. HOW pretty and springy your post is....I am like you I love to go in search of nature and its such a treat when I find it..Enjoy.

  21. HI Jan...Had a comment started last night ,had a coughing fit and had to make a mad dash to the bathroom before I wet my back and had lost it so I am trying getting old stuff...
    yes I am still feeling miserable, and it better end quickly grrrr!!
    I loved your frog and I love hearing there chorus of song in the spring . There is a pond in the field next to my home and I just can't wait to here the first croak of the year ..: }}}}
    So great to see your sign of makes me a little envious ,but I know my turn will come!!
    The snow drops are so pretty and butterflies already ..wonderful!!

    Enjoy my friend!!

  22. Jerry

    Thank you very much for your really lovely comment Jerry, though I am not sure I am worthy of it :-) I was so pleased to see the Tree Sparrows, it had been a long time since I had seen one before.


    Thank you John, wonderful indeed but as you say I suspect we are not completely out of the woods, it was very cold here last night. 'Badger bird' is a new one on me! I have heard it called 'bottle brush' and 'bum barrel' :-) I assume badger refers to the stripy back?


    Thank you very much Dean. Yes, it's a great time of year, the best :-)


    Thank you Roy. Yes, all three of the Small Tortoiseshells were flitting about like youngsters :-)

  23. Glo

    Thank you very much, Glo. I hope Spring starts to find you soon, it was much colder here last night again and very foggy but at least we are moving in the right direction :-)


    Thank you Greenie, those little 'sentries' are so lovely :-) mine wasn't as bold as yours though. I agree completely, February can be a very bad month. I hope there won't be any more 'ice shots'... but only time will tell!


    Hi Monty, thank you. I thought it was destined to be another year without a Siskin so was very pleased to spot them even though they were a little distant.

    Nature Rambles

    Thank you very much Kanak. The Small Tortoiseshell is a lovely butterfly and quite common here although it suffered a rapid decline a few years ago. Happily it seems to be doing better again now. Yes, I must remember to include more photos of our beautiful countryside. Happy Spring to you too :-)

  24. Great post, capturing the joys of spring perfectly. Where do you find all those lovely poetry quotes?!

  25. elcamperoinquieto

    Thank you very much. Spring is such a beautiful time of year. I wish it lasted longer. Saludos :-)

    Ragged Robin

    Welcome, Caroline (I hope I have your name right!) and thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comment. I was thrilled to see butterflies this early in the year. Last year my first was a Brimstone which was perhaps less surprising but just as welcome :-)


    Thank you, Sondra. Although it is lovely to see Nature in our own gardens, I think it is so much more exciting to go out and find it for ourselves!

    grammie g

    Thank you very much Grace. It is sooo frustrating to lose a comment that has taken a while to write, it happens to me frequently :-( Sorry to read you are still unwell, I know only too well about coughing fits...not the other part though!!! :-) Poor you!!
    There is something comical about frogs, I think and it's always such a welcome sign of Spring when their 'activities' start ;-) I hope Spring reaches you soon and that you feel much better soon too.

  26. Hi Jan
    Lovely pictures, and you're so knowledgeable about birds! How do you tell the difference between a tree and house sparrow? How lovely to see frogs 'in the wild'. The frogs in our pond are very busy, and the surface is full of splashes and ripples as they go about their spring courtship (that makes it sound way too romantic!).
    I enjoyed seeing three semi-submerged faces peering at me because I'd disturbed their reverie as I approached the pond to take a peek. Like you, I am forever thankful that I notice nature all around, even when simply driving to work. It's nice to notice, rather than rush mindlessly, isn't it?

  27. Lovely photos. My favourites are the frog and the long tailed tits. How did you get them to keep still ? In my garden they just won't pose for a photo.

  28. I really like your series of shots. I've read from all over about the plight of the tree sparrow in the UK and that is disturbing. And the frogs!!! Isn't there a way they can reduce the use of pesticides or change the kind of pesticide being used? Your spring photos are lovely. I'm shocked you have your first butterfly already:)! Must be warming up...all my best.

  29. What a lovely post, I really love that Frog it's a real beauty and things have certainly changed quickly.

  30. Spring's my favourite too :) Great post, beautiful photos. I especially love Mr Frog-face :)

  31. Jeremy

    Thank you Jeremy :-) Regarding the poetry I have a good collection of books and I also spend quite a lot of time trawling through old books on the Internet. It can be very time consuming trying to find the right pieces but I do enjoy it.


    Thank you Dan, you're too kind :-) The Tree Sparrow is a little smaller than the House Sparrow and has a chestnut coloured crown and black patches each side of its throat.
    It sounds like your pond is a very busy place at the moment, such an interesting time of year and some people just don't know what they're missing!


    Thank you Crystal, I agree it is difficult to get LTTs on camera. I think I was just lucky that they were intent on eating the fat treats, they were gone in moments though hence the snatched and not very well focused shot :-)

  32. A lovely set of varied Spring photos Jan. I keep looking out for frogs in my pond but nothing seen so far, though they do tend to be later here.
    One aspect of Spring I love is the increase of bird song. Lots of Blackbirds in the mornings and Song Thrush at dusk.
    Love the Grey Squirrel shot.

  33. Great images and post Jan.

    I can never decide which of the seasons is my favourite, when it's Spring it's Spring, when it's Summer it's....well, I guess each season has it's own beauty...I just love them all...[;o)

  34. Rohrerbot

    Thank you Chris :-) I'm sure there are alternative, more environmentally friendly farming practices which could be adopted and an exclusively organic farming method would obviously be the ideal but unfortunately the current economic climate has resulted in less demand for higher priced organic foods. Perhaps if the general public were more aware of the detrimental effect of chemicals on our wildlife more pressure would be exerted to bring about the changes that are needed not only here in the UK but throughout the world.

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan, Things certainly do seem to be moving on apace now. I suppose we shouldn't get too complacent though as we could still get another cold snap.


    Thank you Marianne, 'Mr Frog-face' seems to have been quite popular on here...he was a bit of a sweetie :-)

  35. What a lovely post Jan. I was especially pleased to see the Sparrows, I had almost forgotten what they look like.

    Spring indeed.

  36. I love the photo of the frog--he looks as though he was just waiting for you to snap his photo!

    I so agree about the simple pleasures of springtime. The sound of birds singing in the morning, a tiny crocus blossom, or even a green shoot emerging from the ground--all give me a feeling of delight. Spring has always been my favorite time of year, and it's no different this year, even though our winter was so much milder than the past few.

    I've noticed more birds at the feeders lately, too, including some that normally visit in the winter instead. But no butterflies yet--what a treat to see your tortoiseshell butterfly! I hope you have more beautiful days ahead, Jan, to enjoy such sights. But definitely a few days of rain would be welcome.

  37. Midmarsh John

    Thank you John. I'm sure there'll be lots of activity in your pond very soon, things do change so quickly at this time of year. I totally agree regarding the increased bird song, I love it!

    The Herald

    Thank you Trevor. Yes, you're quite right, every season does have its beauty, we're very lucky in this part of the world. I do like the sunshine though and wish we had more of it, it doesn't need to be hot in fact I prefer it just warm but I don't like dull, dreary days at all.


    Thank you very much :-) it really was lovely to see the Tree Sparrows. I was beginning to think they had disappeared altogether from my area.


    Thank you Rose. Spring is definitely, to me, the best time of year. I actually don't mind a few rainy days and goodness knows we do need rain but it is the relentless dull days with no brightness, sun or rain which I don't like and we seem to get so many of those in this country!
    The butterflies were such a welcome sight. Hopefully before too long there will be plenty more...and for you too :-)

  38. I'm sorry, I must have missed this beautiful blog, but, I've found it. Brilliant photos of birds, Frog and its frogspawn, butterfly and snowdrops, you can't beat them. Superb.

  39. Jan.
    Well done on finding your 1st butterfly of the year and what a nice one it is too.
    You managed to take some good photo's, especially the Siskin and Tree Sparrow.
    I think you Squirrel is giving you the eye :-)

  40. Oh what a delightful post filled with stunning late winter/early spring photographs! It especially pleasurable to view birds and wildlife outside of the US. Some of our birds have the same names but look very different. Jan, you have captured the beauty that surrounds you through all of your lovely images. The Long-tailed Tits are so very cute. Love the expression on the Common Frog ... priceless! Spotting the first butterfly of the season is always a joy. I was thrilled to see many out on our country property recently. Reading this wonderful post certainly brightened my day. Thank you for sharing!

  41. Bob Bushell

    Thank you very much Bob. You are very kind :-)


    Thank you Ken, I wasn't expecting to see Small Tortoiseshells quite that early. It was fun watching that cheeky Squirrel :-)

    Julie G

    Welcome Julie! Thank you very much for visiting, becoming a recent new follower and for your very generous comments :-) Since the day (a week ago) I saw the butterflies we haven't had any sun in my area and it has been cooler again but it is good to know that all the wonders of Spring are just around the corner :-)

  42. Hi Jan,

    Beautiful post....they always are. Your writings would send the tourists flocking here :)

    I am pleased and proud to tell you that I have increased the chirpy chappy numbers here, over the last ten years.
    When we first moved here we rarely saw tree sparrows.....I had around five. I put up some communal nesting boxes and have fed them little flock is now around 30 :)
    I intend to improve on that figure.

    Another piece of news....I have siskins in the garden, and I tought of you:) I was so excited when I first saw them.

    Have a lovely week Jan, I am at the doctors with Mum today.

  43. You have a very interesting blog
    with lovely photos of wild life in
    England.In this post I like the
    beautiful robin, the cute frog and
    the lovely fresh snowdrops.It has
    been a pleasure to visit you.:)

  44. My goodness, what beautiful shots you've taken! That little frog was so cute popping his head up out of the water.

    My favourite season is spring too, but as a child autumn was closest to my heart. I think the spicy air, halloween pumpkins and chocolate were the reasons.

  45. Cheryl

    Thank you very much Cheryl, you are very kind :-) Well done with your work to help the Tree Sparrows, that is wonderful news and how lucky you are to have thirty tenants :-) What a thrill to have Siskins too. I have only seen them in my garden once, about three years ago when the weather was bad in the late Winter. They visited every day for a week or so, I was so pleased!
    I do hope things went well with your Mum at the doctors, I have thought about you all day, since I read your comment.

  46. Breathtaking

    Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your very kind comments. I am so pleased you enjoyed seeing some of our English, early Springtime sights and I do hope you visit again, you will be very welcome.


    Welcome, Wendy, Thank you very much for visiting and for your lovely comments. That little frog was a nice find. My favourite season was definitely Autumn as a child too, I'm sure the nearness of Christmas must have had something to do with it :-) Please do visit again!

  47. Wonderful post... The squirrel is wonderful but all your pictures are so beautiful! Spring is coming in your area and you enjoy it ;-)

  48. Chris

    Thank you for your very kind comments. The weather was very dull and cool again last week but this week including today has been lovely with lots of sunshine and warmer. It is a wonderful time of year. I hope you are getting some good weather too :-)

  49. Lovely set of spring photos, and wonderful text to accompany the piece. I too saw my first butterfly of the year last week, in fact two Small Tortoiseshells together at Rodley Nature Reserve in Leeds, a very welcomevsight indeed. Linda

  50. kirstallcreatures

    Welcome Linda! Thank you so much for visiting and for your kind comments. Yes, it is such a pleasure to see the butterflies again after their Winter absence. It was a bad year for butterflies here last year so I am hoping it will be better this time.

  51. Hi Jan, this is a marvelous post with the most splendid nature photos. I wonder what the little bird is in your header? I feel as though I should know him but just can't bring the name to mind. Have a great week and enjoy the good weather. Happy Spring!

  52. :-) i pozdrawiam wiosennie.*** :-) And greetings.

  53. I have a hard time deciding which is my favorite season--although since living in Texas, summer has become my least favorite! ;-) Each season has it's charms, and I even love the dead of winter. I have always loved trees, and I see such beauty in their lacy limbs and scratchy bark.

    I have always loved the little sparrows, and love to listen to their chatter. We have a colony of them living in the Lady Banks Rose!

    Enjoy your lovely Spring weather.


  54. Denise

    Hi Denise, thank you very much. The bird on my header is a male Chaffinch, a lovely little bird which visits my garden regularly in good numbers and which, in the Winter, sometimes brings the less common Bramblings in with it.
    Happy Spring to you too, I hope the weather there is as lovely as it is here :-)


    Thank you Giga. What a pity we don't speak the same language. We could say so much more :-)
    Dziękuję Giga. Jaka szkoda, nie mówimy tym samym językiem. Możemy powiedzieć tak wiele więcej :-)

    Morning Glories in Round Rock

    Dear Jenny, It is lovely to see you here again and back blogging :-)
    I don't think I would like your Summer, I'm sure it would be much too hot for me. I love the sunshine but can't take too much heat.
    Our House Sparrow numbers have declined in recent years but the Tree Sparrow which is the one on my post is very scarce and has been for a number of years. In some areas it is hardly seen at all.
    Enjoy your Spring too...Hugs!

  55. Your so lucky seeing Treesparrow locally Jan. They are all but gone as a breeding bird in Worcestershire.

    P.s. I absolutely love the frog photo!!!

  56. Hi Jan,

    Its been ages since I commented here or even did anything on my own blog and its about time I got back to it! Great photos as usual, the Tree Sparrow is always a lovely bird to see. Nice Robin photo as well :)

  57. Jason K

    Thank you very much Jason. Yes, I was thrilled and felt very privileged to see the Tree Sparrows. I thought they had gone completely from my area, it is years since I have seen one. Glad you liked the frog :-)


    Hi Joe and welcome back, it's lovely to hear from you :-) Thank you very much for your comments. Tree Sparrows are so rare in many areas now so I was thrilled to see them.
    I often wonder how you are doing and if you are keeping up your love of wildlife so it is good to hear you are thinking of blogging again. I hope the education is going well, I'm sure that takes up a lot of your time but I look forward to some posts from you eventually :-)

  58. Hello again, Jan – this post is a wonderful step into Spring! I do hope you are not suffering with a knock back to winter snow and cold in your area. Quite a shock this has been. I’ve been wondering what will have happened to the butterflies we had been seeing. I had seen a small tortoiseshell too and a peacock.

    No sightings of Long tailed tits of tree sparrows up our way but lots and lots of mixed finches. A group of Greenfinches was a surprise yesterday.

    Great images from your garden and your trips out. I hear you on the garden ponds and frogs in the wild. I guess, I’m thinking if frogs find their way to my pond (when completed) then I’ll have provided a wild oasis for wandering wild creatures and they will still feel wild to me. I know what you me though about discovering wild pockets of water and being fascinated by what tries to live there.

    I hope you are both well :-D

  59. Hi Jan,

    How have you's been a while since I have been regular in bloggerland:)It's always a joy to visit your blog and enjoy your posts and photography...


  60. Jan, I loved reading your comments on my blog. I don't think I've been so busy with my camera as I have been since Sunday. I noticed the blooms on my tree and my, the tree is full of bees and butterflies! The birds also land on the wires next to the tree so I'm occupied!

    I also photographed a marsh mongoose today but the land next to our house (the marshy area) will soon have apartments coming up. Many of the wildlife that I see around me will come down drastically.

    I hope you're having a good week!:)

  61. I have just come here from Fenland walker to discover this amazing blog. I love it all. Do pop by mine if you have time.

  62. Shirl

    Hi Shirl, thank you :-) No, thankfully no snow here but some much needed rain at last and much colder. I'm guessing you may have had snow, I hope it hasn't caused to many problems. I too am extremely concerned about the butterflies now the weather has changed so much. I'm completely with you on garden ponds, any help the frogs etc can get from us can only be good. I would love a pond...if only I could find somewhere to put it where it wouldn't get full of leaves. I'm looking forward to seeing yours when it's finished.
    Wishing you a wonderful Easter Shirl and I do hope your husband is still progressing well.


    Hi Shantana, How lovely to hear from you :-) Thank you, I am better than I was now after a prolonged bout of ill health last year.
    I often wonder how you and the family are doing and if you are still enjoying your travels :-)

    Nature Rambles

    How kind of you to come back again Kanak, thank you :-) I'm glad to read you are so busy with your camera but what a shame about the building work, it sounds like it will have quite a detrimental effect on the wildlife which is very sad but at least you are doing your bit by attracting creatures into your garden.
    Have a lovely weekend Kanak :-)

    the cuby poet

    Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting, following and for your very kind comments. I do hope you come back again :-) I will be over to visit your blog very soon!

  63. Dziękuję za kolejną bardzo miłą wizytę i życzę Wesołych Świat Wielkanocnych.
    Thank you for another very nice visit and wish you Happy Easter.

  64. I absolutely love the picture of the frog. I have to say that the squirrel is awfully cute too.


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