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Coming up on Unsprung 4 November

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 17:36 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Richard Taylor-Jones

Richard Taylor-Jones, Unsprung's special guest this week

Friday is rapidly approaching so I thought I’d give you a quick heads-up of what to look forward to on this week’s Unsprung. As ever we’ve got a packed show, with loads of your questions, comments and photos. We’ll also be featuring some of your particularly fascinating and rather hilarious wildlife home movies.

I’m also delighted to say that guest presenter for the week Richard Taylor-Jones will be joining Chris, Michaela and Martin on the Unsprung sofa. Richard has made some delightful films about a mysterious group of seals in Kent, his neck of the woods. If you’ve got any questions for Richard (or for the rest of the team) about seals then post them here.

Richard’s also the producer of all the guest presenters we’ve had on the series so far. He’s a very talented wildlife cameraman and director so if you’ve got any questions about any of these things, again the easiest thing to do is post them here.

I know a lot of you have been concerned for hedgehogs as the winter draws nearer and particularly with bonfire night this weekend. We’ll be having some hedgehog experts on the show to address any questions. So get posting those hedgehog questions too.

Just quickly following on from last week’s show we’ve done a video, again featuring the multi-skilled researcher Sam, posing lots of your questions to Nick ‘Bug Boy’ Baker. There’s also been some great news about the barn owl chick we featured last Friday… but you’ll have to watch this week to hear that!

And keep your giant spider pictures coming. We've set up a special discussion on the photo group for you to post them too. Do try and get a ruler, or something for scale, in the picture too.

Keep it all coming, we can’t make the show without you so please get involved.

Gavin Boyland is the Producer of Autumnwatch Unsprung


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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm sure I heard somewhere that Seals are Mustelids, is that right?

  • Comment number 2.

  • Comment number 3.

    hi my name is stephen moulder from ramsgate the other week you said about do birds sing for pleasure well whilst watching a robin low on a wall under a bush i watched for about three minutes and listening to a very quiet sweet song and they was no other birds around so was this robin singing for pleasure

  • Comment number 4.

    Check out this Starling video. Awesome!


  • Comment number 5.

    Dear team - my daughter & i went out to Bradgate Park in Leicestershire to see if we could see the fallow deer rut. There were (as usual) a lot of deer about, but we had a couple of questions & hope you might answer them.
    1. Bradgate has red and fallow deer in the same areas, and feeding near to each other. Do the stags of each species challenge each other or are they not interested as it's a different kind from them? Could they potentially interbreed?
    2. The deer were all feeding, and near the Bradgate House ruins there were two red deer stags feeding in the same field with some females, no challenging or roaring going on. Likewise fallow buck sitting calmly about 10 feet from a younger buck. Are they more interested in feeding during mid-afternoon?
    we only saw some mating going on behind the wall up the hill past the ruins, and we only heard red deer rut calling as we walked back to the car park around 4pm as the sun was setting.

    And finally a question for Richard Taylor-Jones - what's the most difficult animal to film/photograph that you've succeeded in capturing on film?

  • Comment number 6.

    Do trees leaves fall off in a pattern, say top to bottom, left to right, or is it a random pattern? Thank you

  • Comment number 7.

    A few weeks ago (30 September) I was cycling in the Lincolnshire Wolds and noticed what appeared to be a dead snake in the road. I stopped and checked it, and moved it to the side of the road, returning by car later that day to collect it.

    When I did, I was surprised to see a second snake about 6 feet away, similarly dead in the road. I collected both corpses and took some pictures when I got home. One snake was much larger than the other (I think both corpses were recovered complete.)

    They were completely flattened, and judging by the state of the corpses had been dead a few days.

    I have never seen squashed snakes in the road like this around here before. Does anybody have any thoughts on what happened? - I wondered if they were breeding when they got killed, and whether this accounted for their not reacting to the oncoming vehicle.

    The road is quiet, with only occasional vehicles passing. The spot where I found them is surrounded by fields, and there is large verge on one side with a small line of trees and undergrowth.

    I took some pictures which I'll try to upload to the Flickr site.

    If anyone has any ideas, I'd be interested to hear them.

    (I emailed the BHS to see if they had any ideas, but haven't had a reply.)

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi, will you be showing how the ospreys are getting on on their migration?
    I have a question for Chris Packham: How do the ospreys know where to fly on their migration? The parents left before the chicks.

  • Comment number 9.

    hi while at slimbridge last week i saw this SNIPE it seemed to be bending its beak as it yawned. i thought wader bills were rigid, is this untrue? [pic on your flickr site]

  • Comment number 10.

    Please could you identify what left this for me please?


    I thought it was a hedgehog but have had suggestions it could be a bird as the beetley things in it aren't 'chewed'. Could it be a pellet?

    Sarah x
    P.S. Sorry if you've already got this as I posted it as an unsprung question yesterday but it seems to have disappeared.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Please help me out here. In a recent quiz, the question was, 'It is small and grey, what is it?' The answer was 'A bat.' Are bats grey? The ones I see flying around at night, appear black. Thanks. Lyn aka TinyMo1

  • Comment number 13.

    Reading on various Bird Forums there are a good few sightings of Pallid Harriers in the country this year. One in Ayrshire seems to be a first ever record. Any suggestions as to why this most endangered of the European Harriers seem to be so of course this year. We;ve had prolonged gales and adverse weather previous years bringing all sorts of birding delights the 'tickers' so I wondered if there could be other reasons for the 'influx'. thank you in advance

  • Comment number 14.

    We found a young injured barn owl last week and took it to our local vet (Seaton, Devon) who called the RSPCA to collect it. We haven't heard how it is but wondered what happened to the one you mentioned last week. Amanda Barry and Nigel Parker, Devon.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Richard,
    Can i ask if you know of any cameras that you could recommend to me that have sound and image quality as good as a professional camcorder.
    From Josh McGowan age 15

  • Comment number 16.

    when walking in western Islands of scotland recently we spotted bark stripped from pine trees, it could not have been deer as it was at least 12 - 15 foot up the tree. does anyone know what can have done this.?

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Unsprung Elves!

    I've heard that hibernating animals suffer no muscle or bone wastage during their hibernation as we would if we remained still even for a few days. Is this true and what do we know about it?

    Love the show. Royston, bring on the badger!


  • Comment number 18.

    Last weekend I went picking sloes for my winter gin - by doing this am I depriving any birds of an important food source during cold weather?

  • Comment number 19.

    in these days of plastic and tetrapak where do bluetits get thier milk and cream from

  • Comment number 20.

    Last week Chris stated that Long Tailed Tits only eat insects, which is why they struggle in cold Winter's. I beg to differ, we have a feed station in Towneley Park Burnley at which we had regular visits from LTT's last winter/Spring feeding on Sunflower hearts and suet. We have already had a visits from them within the last couple of weeks again feeding on suet.

  • Comment number 21.

    Not a ? for unsprung, just an answer for 'Gill' - NO, lol

  • Comment number 22.

    Hello, WHY ARE SPARROWS EATING MY HOUSE ?we have a roost between 20-30 house sparrows in our garden which we feed regularly. Our house is made of soft red london clay brick which the sparrows peck at and appear to eat with great enthusiasum. They are doing this almost every day all year round. Can you explain what they are up to and how can we protect our walls.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi everyone,
    I gather from the info about this weeks Unsprung you will be talking about hedgehogs. I am sad to say that I have seen quite a few squashed hedgehogs on the roads over the last few days. How will this unusually mild spell of weather that we've been having of late be affecting our prickly friends so late in the Autumn as they are obviously still out and about? What happens if we get a sudden cold snap which is surely just around the corner? I imagine the impact of this could be disasterous for the hedgehog population.

  • Comment number 24.

    My daughter would like to know what kind of squirrels they have in Europe.

  • Comment number 25.

    Both Badgers and Cattle must have been mixing freely on the UK mainland for at least 1000 years, probably longer. If this is so then why is it that we suddenly have a problem with Bovine TB?

  • Comment number 26.

    hi to the best show on television.
    when you cover otters , stealth, luck and early mornings seem to be needed. Yet on the river (the anton in andover) which flows though our pub we have otters hunting and playing at dusk every night nearly, in spite of artificial light and loud music and many customers, is this un-heard of or have we in-advertantly tamed them? - from Pete Richards

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Autumn Watch,

    I have been wondering for a while why moles have never been featured on Autumn/ Springwatch. They are one of the animals I know the least about but find most intriguing. This may be more of a spring question but what are their mating rituals. Do they burrow for miles to find a new territory and mate? Or do they travel over land? Or do they mate with a mole within a relatively local area and risk inbreeding? I would love to know more! You should feature them at some point.
    Sarah Lucas

  • Comment number 28.

    I read once that Siskins are attracted to red feeders and I've only ever seen them in my garden when I 've provided them with either a red peanut bag or a red metal peanut feeders. Can you explain why this is please
    NB I don't do the meshy feeders anymore beacause of the dangers of the birds getting trapped........Thanks

  • Comment number 29.


    We found a blackbird with what looked like a damaged wing, we placed i carefully to the side of the house but sadly it died. Practically, what is the best thing to do when you find a bird like this?

  • Comment number 30.

    The Barnacle Goose, Branta leucopsis, is a small (less than 2kg) black and white goose of the order Anseriformes. It lives during the winter months in the Atlantic coasts of Scotland and Ireland, but it breeds in the Arctic, usually in Iceland or Greenland.

    The fact that it was never seen to breed gave rise to a myth that it was in fact spontaneously generated from molluscs, the Goose Barnacle, or Goose Neck Barnacle, Lepas anatifera, a deep water mollusc that is occasionally washed up on shore attached to pieces of driftwood. Its shell resembles a goose head, and is attached to the substrate by a long stalk somewhat resembling a bird's neck.

    Does it really come from Molluscs????????

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Gang
    I will not be doing thr spider photography as i have a huge fear, anyway, i live 5 miles from Slimbridge, how can i come on unsprung. Ive watched spring and autumn waatch for years, and i missed Bill but you are all doing a fab job, love the contacts martin!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello. We have a lot of squirrels in our garden which is outside Brighton on the edge of the Downs. Lately we have noticed the squirrels apparently collecting chalk & carrying it away. Do you know why they would be doing this? Thanks.

  • Comment number 33.

    Where's Terry Nutkins?

  • Comment number 34.

    Video for chris and Mac You want eagles hunting watch this url?sa=t&rct=j&q=golden%20eagle%20killing%20crow&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CC0QtwIwAw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DXafAdkZIYKA&ei=i060ToWxHNKp8QPf1PBy&usg=AFQjCNEbOvnkwv0dm-84p6EaOuPc23YIvA

  • Comment number 35.

    It was interesting to see your clip of sparrowhawks jostling in the air - we have red kites locally in Buckinghamshire, and have seen very similar behaviour from them. Is 'jostling' something that red kites are known to do?

  • Comment number 36.

    Dear Autumnwatch,
    Recently my 11 year old son saw a jay and wondered why they are so colourful and other members of the crow family aren't.

  • Comment number 37.

    Been catching rats in our garden around the kitchen compost bin, 2 caught, and today, wonderful surprise, we had a beautiful polecat. Photo available. Do polecats catch rats, and what else do they feed on.

  • Comment number 38.

    Video for chris and Mac You want eagles hunting watch this www.youtube.com/watch?v=XafAdkZIYKA

  • Comment number 39.

    HI I live in cumbria but went down to cornwall on holidayat half term. And at home we do moth trapping and got a vestal for the second time since we started plus in cornwall we got lots of silver y's and pearly underwing's coming up.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have a question from my young neighbour Willow. She would like to know why do bats sleep upside down? Please mention this question on Unsprung tonight as she is a huge fan! Thank you.

  • Comment number 41.

    How many kinds of geese are there?

  • Comment number 42.

    What predator kills field mice but only takes their heads? Could it be a domestic cat or is it something wild?

  • Comment number 43.

    Where do birds go in the snow and ice?

  • Comment number 44.

    How many birds come to Britain in all seasons altogether?

  • Comment number 45.

    could ease confim i was always told that swans Pair up for life is this true or not thanks

  • Comment number 46.

    When walking in the Fens last week, we were chased by a horse, when other walkers seemed to be ignored. Is it because my husband was wearing a red jacket? The cows were also rather agitated at the sight of us.

  • Comment number 47.

    We have a bird box with a camera in it - we did not have a nest this year but we now have a great tit roosting in there each evening - it comes in at dusk, preens itself and then settles down for the night- it leaves each morning at daybreak. Is this usual ?

  • Comment number 48.

    sorry could you please tell me if swans pir up for life or not i was always told that they do thanks

  • Comment number 49.

    my wife and i live on the southeast coast . ramsgate . we would love to see some geese flocking is there anywhere near us to see these lovely birds.

  • Comment number 50.

    What happened to the lonely seal cub?

  • Comment number 51.

    If I keep feeding my Hogs will it put them off hibernating? Or will they just go when they're ready

  • Comment number 52.

    Would a sparrow hawk sit and wait for a dropped bird if distracted, about 2 months back there was a dead wood pigeon on our trampoline when my children went out to play. When I got home from work my wife told me about it and when I went out iy had gone and there was a lot of feathers in the garden, and a rather big dropping on the childrens play house which I assume was below where it was waiting.

  • Comment number 53.

    While you're talking about Barnacle geese, just wondered if this was an oddity. On Cleethorpes (N E Lincs) boating lake this spring a Barnacle goose paired up with a greylag goose. They had 3 chicks (i think) 2 barnacles and 1 a cross between the two parents. Have you heard of this cross breeding before?

  • Comment number 54.

    Do birds fly backwards? I was watching a pair of magpie's land in a tree when one of them appeared to fly backwards to get to it's mate already on the tree. Is this possible or did a freak gust of wind catch it?

  • Comment number 55.

    I first went to Slimbridge in the 1970s and was amused to watch a merganser displaying to a huge goose. He just wouldnt give up! Are interspecies 'crushes' like this a common occurence?

  • Comment number 56.

    do all types of swans that live in the uk belong to the Queen and what about the ones that land here are they under the same protection

  • Comment number 57.

    hi i live in essex and my little brother keeps on saying he is seeing a gery bird with black wing tis so i showed him a pitcher of a hen harrier and he that the bird he keeps on seeing on his school field can you get hen harriers in essex?

  • Comment number 58.

    Last night i heard a bird tweeting and singing nearly all night long. Certainly from 11pm till around 3am. What might it be? I live in north nottinghamshire.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi guys!!! I've got a question about barn owls. I was in my garden the other night about 7pm listening to a huge amount of starlings nestling in a nearby tree, when all of a sudden they flew from the tree in their swarms! There wasn't any loud noise to trigger them off and it was dark so they wouldn't usually fly, but then all of a sudden i caught a glimpse of a white barn owl swooping around the tree. Would it been trying to catch one of the starlings to eat?

  • Comment number 60.

    OK Chris. I presume leucistic (spelling?) is similar ro melanistic? Melanistic rabbits near me on Chorleywood Common. What if any advantage is there in either light or dark variations?

  • Comment number 61.

    Hi all! Didn't know whether it was worth mentioning, but i have seen 3 red admiral butterflies in the last 4 days. Should they still be about? I know our garden has never had so much bloom at this time of year, so could this be the the reason why?

  • Comment number 62.

    I have a question for Richard about the Kent coast seals. After hearing that few seal pups are born in this area, where do the experts believe these seals are giving birth, and is it somewhere else on the Kent coast or a different county altogether? (Beautiful film by the way!)

  • Comment number 63.

    Can seals live in fresh water?..or do they have to live in salt water?

  • Comment number 64.

    Richard Taylor-Jones...
    The Grey Seal piece was fantastically informative and as someone who has grown up in SE Kent I was unaware of this marine mammal in our midst. I was wanting to ask what future plans you had for other coastal short films?
    Brilliant - great work

  • Comment number 65.

    We live in Cambridgeshire and over the weekend we had a flock of longtailed tits in our garden,they flitted from hedge to tree,then from tree to tree,why would they do this and where would they go at this time of the year?
    Many Thanks
    Tracy Hampshire

  • Comment number 66.

    How many birds there all seasons all over the world?

  • Comment number 67.

    I. saw some bright green parakeet like birds in richmond park and was wondering what they are and where the come from.

  • Comment number 68.

    A Canada goose
    B teal
    C shell duck

  • Comment number 69.

    A: Canada goose
    B: teal
    C: shell duck

  • Comment number 70.

    Bryan the fireman says:

    a) canada goose
    b) teal
    c) shell duck

  • Comment number 71.

    quiz (a)canada goose
    (b) widgeon
    (c) shell duck

    from angela

  • Comment number 72.

    I worked for the National Rivers Authority (predecessor of Environment Agency) in the early to mid 1990's looking after the water quality of east Kent. In the mid 1990's we had a young common seal come up the river Sour from the estuary right into Canterbury. It made itself at home in a mill pool fededing on the local angling clubs stocks. It must be remembered that prior to the early 1990's there were many discharges of untreated raw sewage and industrial discharges into the river, estuary and the sea around east Kent. The NRA started to cleaned these up from 1990 onwards. Perhaps it was only after the water quality improved from this time that the seals had sufficient food available to establish a resident population. I remember a member of the BTO in Pegwell Bay voicing concerns that the removal of raw sewage from the Bay would lead to a loss of food for the birds and a reduction in their numbers. I tried to convince him that if the number of birds decreased perhaps the number of species would increase. I never envisaged that the species increase would extend to seals.

    Dr kieran Martyn

  • Comment number 73.

    if you caught a migratory bird before it migrates, then took it where it would have migrated to, when you set it free, does it still need to travel somewhere, or does it know it's where it's supposed to be?

  • Comment number 74.

    What animal is the first to migrate?
    Sarah,12 Isle Of Man

  • Comment number 75.

    a canada goose
    b widgeon
    c shell duck

  • Comment number 76.

    Why do seals hang around fishing boats?
    Sarah,12 Isle Of Man

  • Comment number 77.

    Can you let Chris know that Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland is pronounced "Neigh" and not "Nee"

  • Comment number 78.

    while my son was feeding his fish in the pond a few weeks ago, he saw a small ?mouse/shrew/vole run across the lily pads and eat a piece of fish food; sitting up propped on his tail, rather like a kangaroo would do. What would it be?

  • Comment number 79.

    a)canada duck
    c)shell duck

    from an Essex Vixen

  • Comment number 80.

    seals get a bad press
    what kind of fish do they eat?
    Tom Garner age 13

  • Comment number 81.

    Question for Chris Packham, can you tell me what make and strength of binoculars you use for your bird watching?
    From Megan

  • Comment number 82.

    a) Canada Goose
    c) Shellduck
    I have some good hedgehog photos but don't know how to upload them to Unsprung

  • Comment number 83.

    When I was walking home from school I heard a curlew calling. After short investigation I realised it was a starling. Why would it bother learning a curlew call, Chris? Thanks. Ronan aged 13

  • Comment number 84.

    I see loads of molehills around where I live, but know nothing about them. Any chance of a feature on the show.

  • Comment number 85.

    Would i be right in saying that the smallest bird of pray or raptor in the UK is a Shrike or (Butcher Bird). Although they are not related to owls, Hawks or Falcons their way of life is very similar they hunt and kill smaller birds, mice and frogs.
    From Clive Thomas West Wales

  • Comment number 86.

    We have had a noisy sparrow roost about 40 birds in a large privet hedge in our front garden. Tonight a neighbour detonated a very large firework which shook the windows of our house. When I went to remonstrate I found dead and dying sparrows on the pavement under the hedge and in the hedge about 30 of them. I guess they died of shock from the loud explosion? I know the fumes from fireworks are highly toxic to bats and small birds but the wind was blowing away from the roost. Perhaps the advent of people detonating public display fireworks in their gardens has coincided with the demise of the London sparrow?

  • Comment number 87.

    I was intregued by the hedgehog house on tonight's programme as I have not seen anything like it before and as a hedgehog carer am always on the look out for good hedgehog products.
    Could you either give me some details about the house or the details of the rescue that the lady who brought in the hedgehogs runs?
    Thank you very much

  • Comment number 88.

    doofus 29 We had a visiting blackbird for several years that showed up injured one day. We picked it up and examined it, then let it go. It flew off is a different direction from usual and never returned. We assumed it died somewhere else. A 'replacement' has arrived this yesr.

  • Comment number 89.

    could you please solve a mystery for the last four years I have had tadpoles but even if I take them out of the pond in pond water of fresh they grow small back legs and then vanish without trace, there is no way that they can be eaten or escape

    Thanks Ken

  • Comment number 90.

    I will be putting a photograph of a duck that I have not seen before, I spotted on Derwent Water Cumbria, the week before last. Can you see if anyone knows what it is please?
    Are you aware that there appears to be a new colony of Otters on Derwnet Water, Cumbria and they seem to like the visitors, they have been spotted bewteen Ashness Bridge Landing Jetty and Kettlewell Carpark and even towards Keswick.

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm very interested in water voles and have just written an information book for children on them. Will the water voles at Slimbridge be featured at all on Autumnwatch? Has anyone ever been able to get a camera into their burrows and film their life underground, particularly when they have young or would that be too disruptive to them?

  • Comment number 92.

    Having been encouraged to watch spiders I cannot work out how they defy gravity when constructing horizontal "guy ropes" without the use of a friendly breeze. I have noticed that these structural elements can be very long. Can they select if the thread is adhesive or not and can they reel it back in if they wish?

  • Comment number 93.

    I'm surprised that you haven't, so far, mentioned avian pox. We have had at least 3 great tits with the condition in our garden this year. I felt I should report it to the RSPB & did so. The person I spoke to didn't seem particularly interested & I had to ask him if he wanted my post code. I thought they would've wanted to know the areas that are affected. I must add that I am very careful about keeping feeders etc clean. I'd like to know your thoughts on this subject.

  • Comment number 94.

    Really enjoying the current series of Autumnwatch, especially the Exmoor ponies - keep up the good work guys! On a completely different note, 'Summerwatch' perhaps, whilst walking the Southwest Coastal Path from St Ives to Penzance back in June this year, we saw lots of weird pinky-red sticky stuff growing all over the undergrowth on either side of the path. It was a bit like cobwebs but thicker strands. Can any of the team tell me what it was please? I have a photo but can't attach it. Thanks.

  • Comment number 95.

    kenneth 89 They evolved.

  • Comment number 96.

    I have recently watched crows, near where I live, dropping walnuts from their beaks from a height of about 100ft and following them down until they hit the ground. I guess that the nuts are breaking open allowing access to the edible bits. Is this common behaviour?

  • Comment number 97.

    We have large patio doors to which we have added bird stickers and followed all the tips on the internet, but still the birds fly into the glass. Do you have any solutions to this problem?

  • Comment number 98.

    Carrion Crows have been seen stashing wheat (three or four grains) and bread in grassland - burying it up to beak depth. Are they likely to find and retrieve it?

  • Comment number 99.

    Hi - this is a question for the team, I have a photo of this btw, I have an outside thermometer that is suckered to our window. Between it and the window a spider set up home. She eventually built a nest and laid eggs in it. A good place really as we have our lights on at night and often have loads of flies. The egg sack swelled and was almost to bursting point when there appeared in the egg sack - two larger lumps. At first we thought she had placed food inside the sack for her eggs when they hatch. However these lumps have gotten bigger and have now elongated. They are very dark brown in colour. And it's been a few days now and these things are slowly moving round the nest and the eggs are disappearing. We assume they are eating them and are some sort if parasite. But what are they. Like I have taken a photo to show the mother still guarding the nest and these things growing. If anyone could help identify it. Cheers, Craig.

  • Comment number 100.

    Chris Packham said last week that the Nightingale was the bird with the loudest song, I would agree having heard them sing in Kent.I knew a man,Rev Wilfred Hill,who was a army chaplain in Italy in WW2.He said that as soon as the evening bombardment began the nightingales could be heard singing loudly above the tremendous noise of the guns and found it a most moving experience, Beryl Jones , Wilmslow , Cheshire


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