Bain, Margaret J C

The long, warm, dry summer continued into fall over most of the province, delaying the southbound migration of some species. There was some increased precipitation by early October, welcome after the prolonged dry conditions earlier in the year, but water levels in the Great Lakes remained very low Winter suddenly arrived in the north of the province in the third week of October with snowstorms and record-low temperatures; Rainy River had permanent snow cover by 19 October. In Algonquin Provincial Park, small lakes froze over by early November, a month earlier than in the mild fall of 2001, though larger lakes were still open at the end of November. In the south of the province, there was a confusing succession of Arctic cold fronts alternating with warmer spells from mid-October to the end of November, with repeated lake-effect snow squalls to the lee of the Great Lakes.

Coniferous and deciduous seed crops were abundant throughout the province, but very few winter finches were in evidence even in the north, their low density perhaps reflecting this widespread food availability. Berry crops were superb almost everywhere, weighing down the branches of many fruit-bearing trees, encouraging some migrants to linger later than usual.

The advent of the West Nile virus severely affected some bird species, especially owls and corvids. At the Owl Rehabilitation Centre in Vineland, Niagara, all the captive northern owls were wiped out, but owl species with a more southerly range appeared to be less seriously affected. This was thought to be related to the denser body plumage of the northern owls, which harbors more hippbboscid flat flies, one of the possible vectors for the virus. Some populations of American Crows were markedly reduced. This was especially noticeable in the Greater Toronto Area, where crows virtually disappeared, but the effects were less pronounced in more rural areas.

It was not a fall of outstanding rarities, though Ontario gained its first confirmed record of Tropical Kingbird, an obligingly long-staying bird enjoyed by a host of observers in the extreme southwest of the province. There was an unprecedented influx of Brown Pelicans into the Great Lakes Basin during the season, probably involving at least seven different birds often appearing and disappearing at widely scattered locations, frustrating many would-be observers. Consistent with their increasing breeding population, Ross’s Geese were widely reported; Northern Gannet sightings were also unusually numerous in October and November, both on Lake Ontario and on the Ottawa River; and there was a small influx of Cave Swallows in midNovember.

Abbreviations: A.P.P (Algonquin P.P, Nipissing); C.A. (Conservation Area); H.B.M.O. (Holiday Beach Migration Observatory, Essex); K.F.N. (Kingston Field Naturalists); L.P.B.O. (Long Point Bird Observatory, Norfolk); P E. Pt. (Prince Edward Point, Prince Edward); P.P.N.P (Point Pelee National Park, Essex); T.C.B.O. (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, Thunder Bay). Place names in italics refer to districts and regional municipalities as well as counties.


Representing an unusually high count, 268 Red-throated Loons flew past Van Wagners Beach, Hamilton 16 Nov (NCM, SJB); 5 at Fanshawe C.A., Middlesex 17 Nov (WGL) were a large number for a small, manmade, inland reservoir. There was an ad. Pacific Loon at P E. Pt. 3 Nov (K.F.N.). The 430 Pied-billed Grebes at Erieau, Chatham-Kent 13 Oct provided a record high count for the Rondeau area (JTB, KJB), while Red-necked Grebe numbers peaked at 340 in West Bay, Manitoulin 18 Oct (CBe). Single ad. Eared Grebes were at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto 24 Aug (GC) and at Little Current S.T.P, Manitoulin 1. 6 Sep (EA); single imm. Eared Grebes were off the Tip of P.P.N.P. 20 Oct (IR, KRK, PSB), at Erieau 25 Oct (SC), on the Cataraqui R., Kingston 2-7 Nov (RDW et al.), and at Turkey Pt., Norfolk 20 Nov (DEP, m. ob.). Two Western Grebes were well watched in Hamilton harbor 4-6 Oct (JO, RSt, m. ob.), and another was near Echo Bay, Algoma 12 Oct (EM).

Northern Gannet sightings, all of single juvs., began with one flying over the city of Ottawa 9 Oct (TB, MGR), followed by a sickly bird found on the Ottawa R. 26 Oct, which was rehabilitated and flown to Nova Scotia for release; one flew w. up the Ottawa R. past Shirleys Bay 11 Nov (PW), and one flew e. past the Parliament Buildings 15 Nov (GS). In the Hamilton area, a Northern Gannet appeared off Van Wagners Beach 17 (DRD), 22 (CSAM), & 23 Nov (RZD, CE), while a 2nd bird was off the Burlington Ship Canal 23 Nov (BSC, TAC), off Bronte harbor 24 Nov (GE), and in Hamilton harbor 30 Nov (KN). One was seen in Humber Bay, Toronto 23 Nov (VH et al.), and perhaps this same bird appeared off Pickering, Durham 24 Nov (KJ et al.) and Whitby harbor, Durham the following day (m. ob.); Port Weller, Niagara also had a flyby 24 Nov (BRA et al.).

Away from the nw. of the province, there were 2 American White Pelicans at Long Point 1 Aug-12 Sep (L.P.B.O.), and one was seen in South Bay, Pelee 1. 16 Aug (MCo); one first seen at Hamilton harbor 25 Aug (TT) settled in at Cootes Paradise, Dundas the next day and remained to 13 Oct (m. ob.), and there were 2 at Shirleys Bay, Ottawa 28 Aug (BR, TB). An imm. Great Cormorant was found at Niagara-on-the-Lake 23 Nov (AW, KO et al.) and seen later the same day at Port Weller (BRA). A Great Egret was n. to White Trout L., A.P.P. 14 Aug (MS), and an amazing 375 Great Egrets were counted in Big Creek Marsh, Holiday Beach, Essex 24 Aug (fide ATC); 3 birds at Muddy Creek, Essex 2 Nov were late (DJW). Single Snowy Egrets were at Lighthouse Pt., Pelee I. 16 (DJW) & 27 Aug (EJM, GTH), and at Big Creek N.W.A., Norfolk 21 Sep (CSAM et al.). A juv. Cattle Egret on Middle L, Essex 21 Aug (AW, VIM) was a wanderer, not a product of any nesting at that location; one was at Presqu’ile P.P., Northumberland 24 Aug-late Sep (BDL, m. ob.) and another at Wheatley harbor, Essex 23 Sep-2 Oct (GTH, m. ob.). A juv. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was photographed at Port Colborne, Niagara 10-11 Aug (WDA, BP, m. ob.). The Grimsby S.T.P., Niagara held one basic-plumaged ad. and one juv Glossy Ibis 30 Aug-7 Sep (TAC, DRD, CE, GMN).

A Black Vulture was seen in flight near Pontypool, Durham 21 Nov (SW). Migrating Turkey Vultures were recorded in impressive numbers at almost all the hawk watch sites on L. Ontario and L. Erie, including season totals of 21,738 at H.B.M.O. and 9189 at Hawk Cliff, Elgin.


Greater White-fronted Geese were widely reported in the south, with the largest groups 6 at P. E. Pt 3 Oct (RTS), 12 at Morpeth, Chatham-Kent 28 Oct (JTB), and 8 at Cayuga, Haldimand 3-9 Nov (BDJ, JEH). Unexpectedly large groups of Snow Geese included a flock of 50 blue-morph birds over Lostwater L., A.P.P. 21 Oct (WC fide RGT) and 100 white morphs at Precious Corners, Northumberland 18 Nov (AEW). Thunder Bay’s Chippewa landfill had an ad. Ross’s Goose 5 Sep (RZD), joined later by another ad. (BMo), with both staying to 19 Sep; an imm. was at nearby Silver Islet 28 Sep+ (BC), and by early Oct, there were up to 8 Ross’s Geese in the Thunder Bay area (fide NGE). In the south, Ross’s Geese were seen in several locations, including an ad. with Canada Geese in Hay Bay, Prince Edward 3-9 Nov (K.F.N.), one at

Thetford S.T.P, Lambton 11-24 Nov (AHR), 2 ads. with 2 hybrid Ross’s x Snow Geese in a stormwater pond beside a major highway in Mississauga, Peel 13-15 Nov (RZD, m. ob.), one at Kingsville, Essex 14-25 Nov (DJW, m. ob.), and one at Cranberry Marsh, Durham 15 Nov (DJL et al.). A flock of 850 Brant flew past Van Wagners Beach 3 Oct (DRS et al.); a lone Brant on Pelee 1. 13 Oct (DJW) was rare for that location, as were 3 at Erieau 26-30 Oct (SC et al.).

Single female King Eiders were off Stoney Creek, Hamilton 3 Nov (WFS, JAC, JAND), and off the Tip of P.P.N.P. 7 (RLW, KAM) & 29 Nov (AW). Harlequin Ducks were widely reported, mostly singles, but Cranberry Marsh had a pair 3 Nov (SL), and a pair was at Kettle Pt., Lambton 24 Nov for about a week (AHR). There was a high count of 300 Black Scoters off the Hamilton-Burlington lakeshore 3 Nov (RC et al.). In Ottawa, 2 male and one female Barrow’s Goldeneyes frequented the Ottawa R. 27 Oct-30 Nov+ (BDL, m. ob.), and a male was seen intermittently off Stoney Creek 9-30 Nov+ (RC, GJS, m. ob.). The 360 Hooded Mergansers on Lake Pond 27 Nov were a record-high count for P.P.N.P. (AW).

Raptor migration appeared low-key this fall, largely because there were very few days of sustained favorable winds to bring good numbers of birds past established hawkwatching sites; rather, birds seemed to slip through on broad fronts farther away than usual from the Great Lakes. That actual numbers were not reduced is borne out by excellent counts at several Michigan sites. A late Osprey was over Hamilton harbor 21 Nov (SK). Bald Eagle numbers were encouraging, with 13 (5 ads., 2 second-year, and 6 hatch– year) at P. E. Pt. 25 Aug (DO), 60+ at the town dump in Atikokan, Rainy River in early Nov (DHE), and 60+ at the Thunder Bay dump 17 Nov (TBFN). Broad-winged Hawk migration was disappointing as outlined above, with H.B.M.O. recording only 4886 birds in the entire season, a fraction of the usual total, while L. Erie Metropark, MI tallied 106,417. A dark-morph Swainson’s Hawk was a highlight of the High Park, Toronto hawk watch 15 Sep (GC, JDM et al.). A white Gyrfalcon was at the Tip of Long Point 30 Oct (MH, L.P.B.O.).

A Virginia Rail was most unexpected in a tiny parkette in the depths of downtown Toronto 18 Oct (RF). An ailing Purple Gallinule was found near Blind River, Algoma in late Oct; it was taken to a veterinarian but later died (fide EM). An ad. Lesser Sandhill Crane (G. c. canadensis), a rare migrant in Ontario, appeared to be paired with a Greater at Big Creek N.WA. on the early (for s. Ontario) date of 21 Sep (RR); peak numbers for Sandhill Cranes were 3000 at Bruce Mines, Algoma 27 Sep (EM), 2000 in the Massey-Espanola area, Sudbury 2 Oct (EM), and 1900 at Spring Bay, Manitoulin I. 9 Oct (CBe).

Port Colborne had a Piping Plover 10-18 Oct (J&BE m. ob.). There was a group of 12 American Avocets at the mouth of Cedar Cr., Kingsville 4 Sep (DK, MC). Small numbers of Willets, mostly singles, were reported across s. Ontario, with a maximum of 3 at Pinery PP, Lambton 16 Aug (PSB). The 30 Hudsonian Godwits flying over Hillman Marsh 3 Oct afforded a record-high count for EEN.P (BSC, LC, DJW). A Marbled Godwit was at Wildwood L., Oxford 20-29 Sep (J&MH, m. ob.). Baird’s Sandpipers were in good numbers, with a high count of 23 at Presqu’ile PP 20 Aug (JJT), and Stilt Sandpiper numbers rose to 40 at the Grimsby S.T.P 17 Aug (BSC). Buff-breasted Sandpipers were also well reported, with peak counts of 6 in the Pelee onion fields 6 Sep (AW) and 6 at the Chippewa landfill 8 Sep (NGE). At the Emo S.T.E 11 Aug, 2 Wilson’s Phalaropes were the first ever seen in juv. plumage in Rainy River (DHE).


There were only four reports of Pomarine Jaegers: a subad. was the 6th record for PPN.P at the Tip 19 Oct (IR, KRK, PSB), one was off Van Wagners Beach 22 Oct (DRS et al.), one at Kettle Pt. 1 Nov (BH), and a dark juv. was at the Tip of PPN.P 8 Nov (AW). Passage of Parasitic Jaegers was good but not outstanding, with e. winds at Van Wagners Beach producing the first 23 Aug (RZD) and high counts of 6 on 1 Sep (RZD et al.) and 5 on 7 Sep (MCr et al.). A juv. light-morph Long-tailed Jaeger was off Van Wagners Beach 28 Aug (RZD, DRD), an ad. there 28-29 Aug (RSt et al.), and another juv. 15 Sep (CJE et al.).

A definitive-basic Laughing Gull was at the Blenheim landfill, Chatham-Kent 20 Nov (KJB), and a juv. Franklin’s Gull was at T.C.B.O. 20-21 Aug (JRA). A Black-headed Gull was found at the Adam Beck G.S. on the Niagara R. 16 Nov (JI, KAM) and probably the same bird was at nearby Queenston 19-30 Nov+ (m. ob.). There were 3, possibly 4, California Gulls on the Niagara R., including a third-winter at Adam Beck 22-30 Nov+ (JI, RGT, m. ob.), together with an ad. there 23-30 Nov+ (WDA, BP, m. ob.), an ad. above the Falls 24 Nov, and a second-winter bird at the Falls 30 Nov. Lesser Black-backed Gulls were widely reported in the south, and the Sudbury dump had a subad. 20 (CBe) & 28 Nov (EM). The 3rd and 4th records of Great Black-backed Gull for A.P.P. were a juv at L. Opeongo 17 Aug (DCT) and an ad. at Radiant L. 12 Oct (MVAB, ph. JJD, WKG, CR). A juv. Sabine’s Gull was on the n. shore of Big I., Prince Edward 14 Sep (JD), another was off Van Wagners Beach 27 Sep (RZD), and an ad. was at Presqu’ile PP 28 Sep (JMR). Single juv. Black-legged Kittiwakes were off Van Wagners Beach 31 Aug-2 Sep 01, RP, m. ob.) and off Fifty Pt. C.A. Hamilton/Niagara 1 Sep (RZD et al.). Van Wagners had up to 9 Blacklegged Kittiwakes 11 Oct-17 Nov (m. ob.), all juvs. except for one ad. 22 Oct (DRS et al.), with a high count of 3 birds 16 Nov (NCM); single juvs. were also seen on the Niagara R. 20-30 Nov+ (BP, m. ob.) and on the Ottawa R. in Ottawa 24 Nov (MG).

An Atlantic Puffin flew up the Ottawa R. in Ottawa 15 Oct (BDL). A hybrid Black– billed x Yellow-billed Cuckoo was studied at the Tip of Long Point 6 Oct (MH, RR, L.P.B.O.). Two Northern Hawk Owls were perched at the roadside near Parry Sound 22 Nov (CBe). T.C.B.O. banded a record 113 Northern Saw-whet Owls on the night of 3 Oct ORA). An imm. Ruby-throated Hummingbird lingered at, Southampton, Bruce early Oct-12 Nov (LL et al.). A welldescribed male Rufous Hummingbird appeared at a feeder at Pt. Petre, Prince Edward 1 Sep (BV) and at nearby Wellington 10 Sep (MK).

Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers near the town of Rainy River through Aug and Sep (DHE) provided the 2nd record for Rainy River. An imm. Downy Woodpecker on Middle L, L. Erie 21 Aug and 25 Sep (AW, VLM) was considered unusual for this tiny, isolated location.

An Acadian Flycatcher at the Tip of P.P.N.P 29 Aug (JLD) was a very rare fall transient. The first confirmed Tropical Kingbird for Ontario was enjoyed by a host of birders near Rondeau Bay 26 Oct-30 Nov (IW, AVE, m. ob.). Single Western Kingbirds were at Thunder Cape 12 Oct (AH, JRA), near Blind River 18 Oct (EM), and at Lynn Valley, Norfolk 20 Oct (SM); a very late Eastern Kingbird was w. of London, Middlesex 26 Nov (BMa). A beautiful ad. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was photographed and admired by many 2-8 Nov at Fingal PWA. near Port Stanley, Elgin (m. ob.).


A few Northern Rough-winged Swallows lingered very late, with one over Sanctuary Pond, P.P.N.P 21 Nov (DJW) and 4 on the Niagara R. 28 Nov (WDA, BP). A small influx of Cave Swallows occurred, though not on the scale of the previous invasion of Nov 1999, with the first a single bird at Sanctuary Pond. P.P.N.P. 12 Nov (AW). On 13 Nov, one flew e. from the Tip at P.P.N.P (AW et al.), with 2 more seen there later (AW et al.); on the same date, one was s. of Wheatley harbor (DJW), and one was at Shrewsbury, Chatham– Kent (DJW). On 14 Nov at Point Pelee, there were single birds at the Sparrow Field and at Sanctuary Pond, and one roosted overnight at the Visitor Centre 15/16 Nov (AW et al.). On 16 Nov, 2 single Cave Swallows flew w. at Port Burwell, Elgin just over an hour apart (DAM, LW, RCS), and the last sighting in Ontario was of one bird at Niagara Falls, Niagara 21 Nov (PDNM).

Three Tufted Titmice at the Tip of PPN.P 25 Sep (DRJD et al.) were unexpected. A juv. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Brittania C.A. 15-18 Sep (m. ob.) was late and rare for the Ottawa area. T.C.B.O. had a Townsend’s Solitaire 30 Oct ORA), and another was at Marathon, Thunder Bay 7-24 Nov (KW). There were vigorous night flights of thrushes in late Sep, with estimates at Kingston 28/29 Sep (RDW) of 2000 Gray-checked Thrushes (400/hr) and 20,000 Swainson’s Thrushes (4000/hr). An ad. male Varied Thrush was at Rondeau P.P. 14 Oct (BAM), the first area record since 1979, and there was a female in Hymers, Thunder Bay 21 Nov (HS).

American Pipits, in large flocks often consisting of 200-400 birds, passed through the Sudbury area daily 12-30 Sep (CBe), and a record 7500 American Pipits flew s. off the Tip of P.P.N.P. 0730-1200 EST 5 Nov (RLW, KAM). Bohemian Waxwings arrived very early in Rainy River, with numerous large flocks early Oct-late Nov competing with American Robins for Mountain Ash berries (DHE).

Noteworthy fall warblers included a most unexpected Kirtland’s Warbler in a Cobourg backyard 24 Aug (MJCB), the 3rd record for Northumberland. L.P.B.O. had 3 Prairie Warblers at the Old Cut field station 2 Sep and 1200 Blackpoll Warblers passing the Tip 13 Sep (MH, DL). A late Northern Waterthrush was in Presqu’ile P.P. 15 Nov (BG). An early migrant Connecticut Warbler was at Hillman Marsh 24 Aug (DJW), there were 4 at the Tip of Long Point 15 Sep (MH, DL), one at PE.Pt. 16 Sep (VPM), and a record-late bird banded at T.C.B.O. 5 Oct ORA). A male Hooded Warbler was at Presqu’ile PP 2 Sep (BDL et al.); another at Cootes Paradise 25 Sep was late (D&CG). A Yellow– breasted Chat found in La Salle Park, Halton 12 Nov (TT) lingered in thick cover to be seen by many

A male Scarlet Tanager near Cedar Springs 17 Nov (JTB, KJB) was record late for the Rondeau area. T.C.B.O. banded a Lark Sparrow 4 Sep (JRA); an imm. Lark Bunting banded there the same day remained to 7 Sep (JRA). A Henslow’s Sparrow was a good find on Amherst 1. 17 Sep (M&JJ). Southbound Le Conte’s Sparrows were reported from several locations, including a total of 6 at the Two Rivers Airfield and Odenback, A.PP. 11-20 Oct (fide RGT), one at Ipperwash, Lambton 14 Oct (CBu), and 2 at the Tip of Long Point 19 Oct (MH). with another there 1 Nov (MH et al.). Rainy River had an exceptional fall sparrow migration, with several species passing through in unprecedented numbers. A total of 32 Fox Sparrows at Atikokan feeders 23 Oct was at least three times the usual (DHE), Harris’s Sparrows arrived early and in huge numbers with “hundreds” present late Sep-early Oct (RSi), and Snow Buntings were abundant, in flocks of several hundred along Hwy 11 mid-Oct-early Nov (DHE, m. ob.).

An ad. female Dickcissel visited Cranberry Marsh 11 Nov (JDL, m. ob.). A Yellowheaded Blackbird was at Mac’s Bay, Manitoulin 1. 20 Aug (MHo), a male was with a small flock of Red-winged Blackbirds on Big I., Prince Edward 12 Sep (RTS), one was at the Little Current S.T.E 17 Sep (CBe), and a late bird was in Howland Twp., Manitoulin 1. 17 Nov (JJ).

Very few winter finches were reported, although some large flocks of Purple Finches were noted in A.P.P. in Oct, becoming scarce again in Nov (RGT). A pair of White-winged Crossbills was observed in Dorcas Bay, Bruce 9 Aug (BAM), and there were several singing and displaying males in black spruce bog areas in ATE in Aug, though these birds seemed to vanish in Sep (RGT).

Subregional editors (boldface), contributors (italics), and cited observers: Brian R.Ahara, Jody R. Allah, Robert E Anderle, E. Atkin, Margaret J. C. Bain, Stanley J. Bajurny, Tony Beck, Chris Bell (CBe), Gordon Bellerby, John & Susan Blaney, Robert A. Bracken, Doug & Evelyn Brown, Carole Buck (CBu), Jim T. Burk, Keith J. Burk, Peter S. Burke, Mike V A. Burrell, William Calvert, Glenn Coady, Steve Charbonneau, Allen T. Chartier, Barry S. Cherriere, Linda Cherriere, Mark Clifford (MCI). Bill Climie. Matt Conn (MCn) James A. Cram, Mark Cranford (MCr), Tom A. Crooks, Robert Curry, Willie DAnna, Jerry DeMarco, Joanne Dewey JDe), Bruce Di Labio, Rob Z. Dobos, Jason J. Dombroskie, Dave R. Don, James A.N. Dowall, Dan RJ. Dufour, Jon L. Dunn, Cheryl Edgecombe, Gavin Edmondstone, David H. Elder, Christopher J. Escott, Nick G. Escott, Robert Falconer, Jean & Blayne Farnan, Mark Gawn, Ray Geras, Bill Gilmour, William K. Godsoe, Peter J. Good, Clive E. Goodwin, A. Harris, Bob Hayward, James E. Heslop, Verna Higgins, G. Tom Hince, Matt Hindle, James & Mary Holdsworth, Margo Holt (MHo), Jean Iron, M. & J. Jaques, Karl Jennewein, Joe W Johnson, Barry D. Jones, J. Jones, Michael A. Kielb, Madeleine Kimmett, Shirley Klement, Donovan Kok, Karl R. Konze, D. Laczic, John Lemon, Christina Lewis, Linda Libon, William G. Lindley, Doug J. Lockrey, Stan Long, V Paul Mackenzie, Bill Maddeford (BMa), Blake A. Mann, Dave A. Martin, Vicki L. McKay, Craig S. A. McLauchlan, Kevin A. McLaughlin, G. McNaughton, Ed Meissner, Ethan J. Meleg, Peter D,N. Middleton, John B. Miles, Steve Miles, Brian Moore (BMo), Norman C. Murr, Ken Newcombe, David Okines, John Olmsted, Karl Overman, Donald E. Perks, Ron Pittaway, Betsy Potter, Rayfield R. Pye, Peter A. Read, Ian Richards, James M. Richards, Val St Mary Richardson, Alfred H. Rider, Ron Ridout, Maureen Riggs, Carl Rothfels, Michael G. Runtz, Sarah E. Rupert, Daniel R. Salisbury, Roger Simms (RSi), H.Sitch, Glenda J. Slessor, Maggie Smiley, William E Smith, Roy B. H. Smith, Ross C. Snider, Gilles Soutaine, R. Terry Sprague, Joe & Vince Stalteri, Robert Stamp (RSt), Matt Strickland, Dick Tafel, Tom Thomas, John J. Thompson, Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, Douglas C. Tozer, Ronald G. Tozer, Anton VanEerd, Bill Vloeberghs, K. Wade, Robert L. Waldhuber, Dean J. Ware, Ronald D. Weir, Stu Williams, Audrey E. Wilson, Linda Wladarski, Irene Woods, Alan Wormington, Phil Wright.

Margaret J. C. Bain 219 Albert Street Cobourg, Ontario K9A 2116 (mjcbain@sympatico.ca)

Copyright American Birding Association 2003

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