Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Good afternoon from the sunny, cool Eastern Shore of Maryland!  There has been a beehive of activity here at the secret location since my last blog.  The partnership between the Chesapeake Conservancy, Explore.org, the Crazy Osprey Family and Investigative Options, Inc. is up and running, and has generated much interest in our favorite Chesapeake Bay osprey couple.  A hearty hello to all of our new viewers, and welcome back to our faithful friends who have been with us in previous seasons.  I thought I would use this blog to update the action at our nest and address many of the observations made by our new followers.  I know you are all wondering when the first egg will be laid, so here are some quick stats from last season.  Audrey arrived on March 8 and Tom arrived on March 31, 2016.  The three eggs were laid on April 17, 20 and 23.  This year, Audrey arrived on March 21 and Tom arrived on March 25.  I will leave you to ponder possible egg-laying dates.  Maybe some of you can start an egg-laying pool!  Hopefully, these tidbits of information will assuage some of your concerns. So without further adieu, our 2017 blog season continues!

At 12:02 a.m. on March 21, an owl was observed sitting on the platform.  Although said owl was a beautiful bird, his/her presence caused some alarm in the COF (Crazy Osprey Family), as we lost a two day old chick and an unhatched egg to an owl early last season. We sent the camera stills to our favorite osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer and our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie, who each confirmed that our late night visitor was indeed a Great Horned Owl.  They both expressed concern about the presence of the owl after the incident last year.  So our Osprey Protector and Defender, Roger, came out of his winter quarters and took over his watchful duties.  COM (Crazy Osprey Man) was at the ready, and prepared Roger for placement at the end of the dock.  But before Roger was in residence, at 6:00 p.m. that very day, our dear Audrey returned to the secret location.  By the time Audrey was back, our swans were on their way north for the nesting season.

 

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Audrey back at the platform. This photo gives you some perspective what the pole and platform look like from the dock.

 

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A closer look at Audrey resting quietly after her journey. She doesn’t rest quietly too often, she must have been really tired!

 

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A cold and windy day after Audrey arrived back. She was probably wondering why she left her winter digs so soon.

 

In order to protect Audrey, COM worked into the darkness to get Roger on duty.  He was deployed at 8:32 p.m. on that dark, cold, windy night!  Thanks, COM, your moniker is well-deserved!

 

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Roger back in action for the 2017 season.  Note the empty platform and camera in the background.

 

With the return of Audrey, the Tom watch was officially underway.  There was a brief osprey stop-over on March 23/24, with much discussion as to the identity and gender of the visitor.  Audrey had also disappeared, as the weather was not welcoming to our newly arrived bird.  At our nest, it is not unusual for Tom and Audrey to take a leave of absence during very cold, windy weather.  They take cover out of the wind, and probably hang out in more protected trees around the neighborhood and in near-by woods.  We checked all the usual hang-outs, but Audrey was not to be found.  On March 25, she returned to the platform without offering a clue as to her former whereabouts.  Maybe she had a feeling that Tom was in the area, for later that night, he arrived back at the platform after dark.  His identity was confirmed the next day during daylight.

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Audrey in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us the day after she arrived

 

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Tom in the big tree two houses to the north of us shortly after his arrival. The tree will look very different in a few weeks when it leafs out.

 

Now that our happy couple was back together, there were many questions posed by our newer viewers inquiring how to tell Tom and Audrey apart.  Sometimes this is not easy. Our first Tom and Audrey pair, who started out with us in 1995, looked completely differently from each other, and there was never any question about who was who.  Our current Tom and Audrey are a different story.  Audrey is a little bigger than Tom, and has a Phoenix-shaped black patch on the back of her head.  Tom has a buff patch on the back of his head, and has mottled-looking feathers. When he first arrived at the secret location in 2015, the mottling was more pronounced.  He was nicknamed “Calico Tom” by Dr. Spitzer, and that name has stuck.  Over the years he has been with us, the mottling has lessened, but you can still observe his mottled feathers when he is dry.  When wet, the mottling is harder to notice.  Don’t feel badly if you have trouble telling Tom and Audrey apart, even the Crazy Osprey Family isn’t sure sometimes!

 

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A beautiful photo of Calico Tom sitting on COM’s boat lift with perfect conditions to see the reason he was given his nickname by Dr. Spitzer. He is dry and the sun is at a perfect angle to capture his mottled look.

 

Over the next few days, there was much discussion about the lack of nest building and many questions about the removal of the existing nests from year to year.  We have always removed the nest at the end of the season based on input from our resident osprey experts.  There are two reasons for the removal of the old nest every year.  One is to prevent parasites from wintering over and infecting our birds in the spring.  The other reason is that the nest, if allowed to grow and grow, would get way too big and heavy for our little pole.  The pole is twenty one feet long, and is sunk six feet into the sand, making it fifteen feet off the bottom with an average of thirteen feet above the surface of the water.

 

Dock Osprey

A really big nest on a boat lift right up the creek from the secret location. This nest would be way too big for our pole and platform, and is obviously not removed after each season.

I guess the owner of the above dock doesn’t get to use his boat lift very often!

 

Here are the remains of our nest after COM took it down last fall.  To remove the nest, he simply pushes it into the drink.

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Our 2016 nest forlornly floating off.

 

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There it goes……………

 

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Arrivederci, old friend!

 

After much angst and gnashing of teeth about the lack of nest building, a few days after Tom arrived BAM!, the nest building began in earnest.  It was a sight to behold!  We hope you all enjoyed watching the nest take shape with warp speed. Yet another advantage to removing the nest every year, I will add it to the list. But next year you have to give Tom and Audrey a little break.  After all, they just flew thousands of miles and needed a little R & R before commencing the build! This year, COM put a few sticks on the platform when he put the camera up to give you something to look at, but I don’t think he will do it again next year.  Now you know not to worry about the old nest being taken down, as Tom and Audrey (all of our Tom and Audreys) have built a spectacular new nest every year since we have had our pole starting in 1995.

Before the nest was started, you may have noticed a piece of aluminum angle iron on the platform.  There was some concern expressed about the safety of our ospreys with that piece of metal being exposed. COM installed it to keep the platform from deforming under the weight of the camera.  There were no sharp edges, and there was no chance that any birds could have been injured by the aluminum.  As soon as nest building began happening, the aluminum strip was quickly covered. Rest assured, we love our ospreys and would never do anything to cause them any harm!

The day after Tom returned, I happened to be home on another cold, wet afternoon and noticed him with a humongous fish.  It was so big, he had trouble carrying it and landed in the yard next door.

 

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Tom in the yard next door to the north. He had a hard time carrying his humongous fish, and landed in the grass. Note the buff color on the back of his head.

 

Tom was a little camera shy, and decided maybe he could carry the fish after all.

 

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Tom decides to take his chances and fly off with his prize fish. He landed on the dock next door to the north.

 

For those of you who are new to our camera, you will quickly learn that if Mrs. COM has a camera in her hand, she becomes a stalker extraordinaire.  Just a few steps closer……..

 

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Here she comes, Tom, get ready to move on!

 

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Yep, time to go!

 

Tom relocated to the dock two houses to the north of us.

 

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Maybe if I hide this fish, she will go away

 

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I don’t think hiding the fish worked, here she comes again.

 

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Getting ready to relocate yet again, darn it Mrs. COM

 

Off he went again, so I decided to let him eat his fish in peace.  This gigantic fish was identified as an American shad.  We usually see our ospreys eat shad early in the season before they migrate further north.  The majority of the fish caught and eaten by our ospreys during the season are menhaden, or alewife.  In the Chesapeake Bay, they are usually referred to as menhaden.  We will discuss fish later in the season.

 

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Audrey on the electric box at the end of the dock eating sloppy seconds. Roger is on duty, and looking very dapper.

 

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This tastes so good I think I will have another bite!

 

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I thought Roger was supposed to be a scarecrow. This crow doesn’t look too scared!  Maybe the crow knows Roger is really a scareowl.

 

Last Thursday, April 6, 2017, we had a ferocious storm blow through at the secret location.  There were tornadoes confirmed in Washington, D.C. and even closer to us.  We always worry about our feathered friends in such dangerous weather.  Our usually calm bay was whipped up into a frenzy.  Audrey hunkered down to ride out the storm.  Tom was nowhere to be found, probably hiding in the woods like a weenie.

 

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The Chesapeake Ocean

 

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Audrey is hunkered down riding out the storm. One of COM’s pink marked sticks is still visible in the lower left part of the nest.

 

The storm was fierce, but the nest held.  There was some damage, but it was mostly intact.  Windage on the camera caused it to rotate 180 degrees from its usual position.

 

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You can see some of the damage on the right hand side of the nest. Audrey is telling Tom to get moving, and either fish or do some nest repair. Tom is trying to ignore her. A pink and green marked stick are visible after the big blow.

 

The most damage from the storm was inflicted on poor Roger.  Here he is after the storm.

 

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Roger was pummeled by the wind and rain. His stylish straw hat was ripped off his head, and only a remnant remained.

 

COM retrieved brave Roger, and has taken him to the garage to be rehabilitated.

 

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Roger looking wet, dirty, bedraggled and hatless. His supporting stick has been broken off. COM is exhibiting the appropriate amount of concern.

 

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A bit of Roger’s old hat can be seen sticking up out of his “head”, which is an upside down gallon oyster container.

 

If you have been watching the camera even a little bit, I am sure you can’t help but notice that Tom and Audrey have been doing their best to make sure we have some fertilized eggs.  For the voyeurs in our midst, here is what their interludes look like from shore.

 

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Tell the kids to go into the other room, X-rated osprey photos. The camera is still in the rotated position.

 

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Wham, bam, thank you m’aam!

 

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The osprey equivalent of smoking a cigarette after their romantic interlude.

 

This photo gives you a perspective of the pole in relation to the water surrounding it.  It was taken just after the storm before COM was able to rotate the pole back into place.

 

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Audrey alone on the nest after the storm.

 

There has been discussion about perches at our nest.  I will discuss this in the next blog, as this one is getting way too long.  In the meantime, here are Tom and Audrey in the nest just after the storm.  You can see the damage on the right side of the nest.  Tom loves to perch on this nest anchor.

 

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Tom perched on one of his favorite places before the pole was back in position.

 

We had a very low tide a couple of days ago, and COM went out in the water and rotated the pole back into its original position.

 

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The pole is back in its usual position. Audrey is also in her usual position, the one with her mouth open squawking

 

Well, this blog has gotten long enough.  I still have lots of good information to pass on to you about various inquiries, and will continue answering some of your questions in the next few blogs.  I’ll cover such topics as where Tom and Audrey hang out when they are not in residence, perches, history of the nest and other fun facts that inquiring minds want to know.

 

A parting shot for now…………

 

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Sometimes you just get lucky. COM thinks I am gross for putting this photo in the blog. But it is nature in action, right?

 

Here’s hoping for a nest full of eggs for the next blog!

Don’t forget about the Chesapeake Conservancy’s 4th annual Welcome Back Osprey Party, to be held on Tuesday, April 25 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in Annapolis, Maryland.  It will feature ornithologist and filmmaker Jacob Steinberg, who will talk about a documentary he wrote, directed and produced called “Osprey”.  For further information, please visit http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org.

Until next time, we remain,

COM, Mrs. COM and Osprey Girl

 

If you are enjoying the osprey camera and blog, please consider a donation to the Chesapeake Conservancy so they are able to continue supporting programs such as this one.  Go to http://chesapeakeconservancy.org today.  Thanks very much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

111 thoughts on “Inquiring Minds Want To Know

  1. Good evening pretty osprey Audrey and Tom enjoying down time on their beautiful nest😍They are thinking–Where is everyone they are saying?? We want all the new viewers to c the gorgeous up close and personal pictures of us from start of this 2017 season when we fell in love all again😘😘on the new blog Mrs.COM just posted🤗 We are never shy even in the x rated pictures-And Audrey says u can c me yapping with mouth opened😄And we can’t wait to c how Roger will appear to protect us!! And blah blah. Thanks again COM family for all you do to let each of us enjoy Audrey and Tom and family to be for another year🌈 Mrs. COM your humor depicting each photo also adds to the understanding of their beauty on the Chesapeake Bay at the secret location .I’m ready for the roller coaster osprey ride to continue 🎢🎢. Adios moe from cape cod

  2. Oh Mrs. COM you outdid yourself this time! I so very much enjoyed this new blog, beautiful pictures and it was so nice of you to catch up our new viewers. 🙂 You have an awesome sense of humor, and if you remember from the last couple of years, I am in love with Major Tom 🙂 He is AMAZING! He has learned to be a Super Dad and Hubby! It has been a wonderful start to the season, I feel bad that the designer nest they had built was a bit trashed but they are doing a wonderful job getting it back into shape for our little ones to come. Thank you so much for your dedication, I really missed your input last year. Have a wonderful evening. Love to the COF and our sweet couple Queen Audrey and Major Tom.
    COF~~DTF (crazy osprey fan ~ dream to fly)

  3. Thank you, Mrs. Com! You’ve outdone yourself yet again. I’m going on record as first egg on Tuesday the 11th! Eggs in time for Easter!

  4. So interesting as always, thank you so much. Does Roger need a new hat, if so…Ken has one I can donate and send ASAP if need be?

  5. Yes! The new blog is outstanding! COF, you really have outdone yourselves. Feel so privileged to be part of this group and have the opportunity to view our beautiful osprey family. Beautiful photographs and love You humor. Many thanks!

  6. Again and as always, a gem of a blog. Thank you Mrs. COM for informing us in the most entertaining manner. Each new blog is a joy to read and makes waiting for the next one an excruciating exercise in patience. And thank you to the whole COF for your dedication and hard work. You are truly cherished.

  7. Mrs. COM, Thank you for your very witty blog. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your humor, writing talent, and photography skills. What would we do without you? And, kudos to Crazy Osprey Man… for all his behind the scene contributions. Thank you both for all you do to make it possible for us to share your osprey world.

  8. Another outstanding blog from Mrs. COM! Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into keeping us up to date on what’s going with Audrey and Tom. It’s such a pleasure to be able to sit here and just enjoy watching them. Poor Roger–can’t wait to see him in his new hat.

  9. Thank you for another excellent blog entry, and best wishes to Roger for a speedy recovery. COM doesn’t know the extent of us watchers’ “potty mentality;” poop shots are met with cheering and some even have a collection of them. (Who’s crazy here?)

  10. Mrs COM!!! Truly roflmao !!! Your words are so welcome and I look forward to reading and re-reading! Special to this blog entry ~ you called Major Tom a “weenie” !!!! ~ and I agree with the kid’s book – everybody poops!
    I seem to lately be clicking on the nest and getting the osprey “playbird” channel ~ but that is the sign of the time of year. Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo leads to eggs and chicks! Once the nest is occupied 24/7 you can no longer avoid seeing somebirdie backing up to the edge of the nest and let go! Yes, part of the grand scheme of things!
    Thanks are in order for COM and his behind the scenes dedication. May Roger come back stronger than ever. We also welcome new viewers and commenters to the blog.
    After all it is all………………. For the love of the osprey! 😎

  11. Beautiful Day on the Chesapeake Bay!
    Audrey is still doing her best to get the nest back in order, it’s coming along.

  12. Mrs. COM just had a chance to read thanks for the education, reminders of past years, great pictures and lots of giggles. I am still smiling :).

  13. Oh, what a beautiful day here in Maryland. I wish we could bottle it. Audrey is on the nest, and it’s so quiet I thought the sound was off. She’s just busy doing a little house keeping.

  14. Such a delight to read the latest blog. Thank you Mrs. COM for the facts blended with the humor blended with the visuals. And, no, the blog is never too long. Please don’t ever think that. And thanks for the great shot of Tom’s plumage. Maybe this will be the first season that I’ll be able to tell them apart, especially with the shot of his ‘buff patch.’ Thank you for that and for all you do for us. Happy Easter to you and your family.

  15. Hello again and I’m missing the eggs also! Audrey is holding on and keeping balance great in the wind-78 crazy and send us some warmth to the cape! have been using i phone for few days and now big computer screen is spoiling me again!! adios moe

    • Looks like a pine cone (surrogate egg) entered the nest. Well, wishful thinking……practice, practice, practice!

  16. Good evening T&A fans. Empty nest at the moment. They need to get those sides built up because we know our curious little ones love to look over the edge way before they are ready to fly. Makes me a nervous wreak sometimes.
    They’ve really been gettin’ busy so hope to have eggs very soon 🙂
    Have a wonderful, anticipating evening to all! This will be a perfect season!
    COF~~DTF (crazy osprey fan~dream to fly)

  17. 10:43am — timing is everything – just happened to click on the cam to see how things are going, and I spied a third osprey trying to land (?) on the nest. Lots of wings flapping about! Was in mute so I missed any words spoken! At this point the sun is shining off the water so much it is hard to see who is left, but I think we have Aud and Tom now just looking around.
    For the love of the osprey! 😎

  18. 74 and sunshine and all is well in Audrey and Tom’s ospreyland!! i lvoe the extra fluff in the nest enjoy the day everyone adios moe

  19. Enjoyed this latest blog SO much! Maybe it was Tom the Weenie…anyway, a laugh was much needed here so thank you Mrs. COM! Your blogs are ALWAYS appreciated!
    I vote for first egg on the 13th!

  20. hello all! looks like more nest building today and the sun is winding down for today! Queen Audrey is rearranging the moss! I will check the nest later as Full Moon-Pink moon tonight I believe. I am always enjoying the view!

  21. What happened to the nest!!! It’s almost all gone! There were no heavy winds last night. Did an intruder attack?
    Poor Tom and Audrey will have to start to rebuild there beautiful home. Does anyone know what happened?

    • Hi…from Debby, Philadelphia…it says “highlights” on the bottom left of the camera shots…hoping the cam is just down. If you study what is on the nest it looks like a shot from a couple of weeks ago…the red ribbon so New and fresh. Hopefully all is well there.

      Ps…I still cannot successfully change my login.

  22. Oh my oh my — when I went on to the site and saw NO NEST AGAIN it was so disturbing. I was hoping it had something to do with camera issues and that proved to be the case. As usual – Thank You Uta for providing us with the information we needed. Will go to the FB page for CC to find out more.

  23. CONGRATULATIONS there is one EGG!! we are blessed again to hop into that nest and watch the season of 2017 continue on the way for Audrey and Tom and egg number one. Thanks to the COF-each of them- for working with camera issues!! Go team go!

  24. Hip-hip HOORAY! Thank you so much for mending a broken heart. So happy to see our fine feathered family again……….Happy Easter to all! An Easter Egg is under construction at last!

  25. I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!!
    I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…

  26. Not only is the camera working, we have an Egg! Audrey is sitting on it and doing a little rearranging at the same time–multitasking. Can’t wait to get a peek at the egg.

  27. Good morning everybirdie! So glad we have a live transmission once again, and of course the eggscelent news. So now we watch and wait. Audrey having a quiet moment – 8:48am. I’m NY bound so won’t have computer – have a wonderful holiday weekend whatever your religious persuasion!
    For the love of the osprey! 😎

  28. Good Morning!!! Mrs. Com what a GREAT JOB!! I love the pictures makes me smile and laugh. Great job!!! I’m so eggcited! And happy that camera is back on I don’t mind reruns however I do prefer live. 😀 Have a winderful day Happy Good Friday to all. ♥️♥️😻🐣

  29. No for me on the Cape! another beautiful day in ospreyland in the sun!! enjoy and i bet Roger might be doing a dress rehearsal in the garage for his new appearance on the dock for the nest protection!! I can’t wait to see! adios moe from the cape

  30. Good morning everyone!! Audrey and Tom tidying up the nest-fresh dark green moss-still one egg-sunshine-and looking happy to be there!! I bet Roger is there as they are so relaxed!!! adios moe

  31. So sorry I missed the excitement. The live stream is now shut down. Hopefully, they’ll show a rerun of it at a later time. Audrey looking very content on her beautiful nest. Haven’t spotted Tom yet today.

  32. Tom has brought in at least 3 batches of moss today. Looks like he’s decorating the nest into an Easter basket…. maybe for the arrival of an Easter egg tomorrow.

  33. Major Tom just delivered a whale of a lunch for Queen Audrey! Didn’t take her but a sec to fly off with it. 🐳🐋. He is SUPER TOM The bestest! Fisherbird ever! Have a great day everyone! 🐥💕🐥🐣

    • and Major Tom and Audrey are the best!! Well 82 at the nest so also good EGG cubation weather for the egg there and maybe to warm up another one to get out!! and we are blessed with April and Oliver’s new giraffe baby that has legs strong enough to stand up alone-instinct how that whole process happened today! another month we will be watching these eggs hatch and will all be in wonder in the osprey process of birth also!! blah blah til later adios moe 62 on the cape

  34. Can anyone remember when the downstairs neighbors moved in last year? I miss them, there are so cute sneaking up to the nest to forage. Hopefully they didn’t move on. Oh I hope we have a “real” Easter egg tomorrow to continue to fill up T&A’s basket 🙂 that would be so awesome!

  35. I think we have an egg on the way very soon! Audrey is doing her thing. She just did a poop shoot and now she’s not laying completely down 🙂 OOOHHH I hope!

  36. Congratulation Audrey and Tom .Egg#2 arrived the nest 17:28 today.First nice view of both eggs are after Audrey chased a intruder.Picture on CC FB page.Video comes later .Wish you all a nice happy eater,my friends. ❤

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