Cape May Natural History Hotline - 4/18/2002
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This update was made on Thursday, April 18. The Cape May Birding Hotline has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience). NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on NJ Audubon's web site (http://www.njaudubon.org) by clicking on "Sightings" at the top of any page. Now on with the hotline!

The week was crisp ... more like the dog days of summer than early spring. Some days temperatures got into the 90s. And to think we had a dusting of snow 2 weeks ago. Very bizarre. Early in the week the forest was a gauzy green as trees just began to leaf out. Now, at week's end many are well along and it's already getting hard to see into deciduous forests. Daffodils, Flowering Quince (hot pink & favored by hummingbirds), and fruit trees (clouds of pink and white) have been in flower for several weeks now dotting the landscape. Shadbush, a small tree or large shrub, has come into bloom this week and is covered with small white blooms. It is so named since it blooms when the Shad, a type of fish, are "running" or heading up the Delaware Bay and river to spawn. This native tree is in bloom here and there along the Garden State Parkway & other road sides in Cape May County. Just in the last week other trees, shrubs, and perennials have begun to flower: Flowering Dogwood, Lilac, Highbush Blueberry (bell-like flowers attract hummers), Autumn Olive (hummers like), Beach Plum, and Wild Columbine. Treat yourself to a visit to Higbee Beach WMA. The trail straight out to the beach cuts through a forest of Beach Plum bushes and when in bloom it's a fairyland of dainty white flowers. Look for spring butterflies on the blossoms, Juniper Hairstreaks especially love Beach Plum blossoms. In Belleplain State Forest Leatherleaf is in bloom around the shores of Nummy's Lake and bright yellow Golden Club is in full bloom in East Creek Lake.

The dawn chorus is a true din now of American Robins and many other birds. Backyard feeding stations are full of singing White-throated Sparrows ... "oh, Canada, Canada, Canada." Enjoy them now, since they are a northern breeder and will be gone from South Jersey largely by mid- to late May. Many birds are on territory. Some are still building nests, others are incubating eggs, and others are already feeding young. If you are struggling to sort out all the bird song, join CMBO for our "Birding by Ear Walk" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) led by Pat Sutton and meeting at the end of Jakes Landing Road EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29.

HORSESHOE CRABS by the thousands have come ashore already to mate & lay their eggs. Hundreds were found on the beach at Fortescue in Cumberland County on April 17 & thousands were on the beach at Highs Beach in Cape May County the morning of April 18 after a high tide the evening before. In each case the beach had hundreds of depressions indicating active egg laying. Water temperatures April 18 at the mouth of the Delaware Bay were 57 degrees and at the Cape May Ferry terminal a few degrees higher at 59 degrees. Some years these waters don't reach that temperature until Memorial Day. It is no wonder that the Horseshoe Crabs have already begun to lay eggs.

With the warm temperatures butterfly and dragonfly outings have been quite fruitful. Some butterflies only fly in the spring -- so if you do not look for these spring specialities NOW (Falcate Orangetip and the elfins), you'll miss them till next spring! This past week FALCATE ORANGETIPS began emerging (first seen April 10) and have been seen at a number of locations: (1) in Goshen at the Dennis Creek WMA on the west side of Route 47 (@ 1 mile south of downtown Goshen), (2) at Corbin City WMA on April 17, (3) in a backyard in Goshen all week, (4) and at Bostwick Lake on the Cumberland/Salem County line on April 13. Males patrol, rarely perching, so are a real challenge to see well or photograph. They are found where mustards grow (many of which are in bloom now) since that is what they lay their eggs on. HENRY'S ELFINS (first seen March 16) have been seen in good numbers: (1) 35 at Corbin City WMA on April 17 (3-4 individuals were nectaring 50' up in a Beech tree that was in flower . . . spring nectar has often been a puzzle), (2) 1 at Cape May Point State Park on April 14, (3) and numbers on the sandy roads throughout Belleplain State Forest & off Jakes Landing. The season's first E. PINE ELFIN was reported March 23, but not since. SPRING AZURE have been enjoyed since March 14, and COASTAL HOLLY AZURES since March 16. A number of HOLLY AZURES were at the Cape May Point State Park on April 14. JUVENAL'S DUSKYWING (first seen March 16), can be expected in good numbers on sandy roads in Belleplain State Forest and elsewhere.

Other butterflies (and moths) might be enjoyed throughout the summer (several generations), but the first individuals of the year are now emerging as flying adults. First seen dates for these multi-generation species follow. Those that emerged in March or earlier are now common: CABBAGE WHITE (3/9), ORANGE SULPHUR (1/15), BLACK SWALLOWTAIL (4/17), E. TIGER SWALLOWTAIL (4/10), SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL (4/17), AMERICAN COPPER (4/7), GRAY HAIRSTREAK (3/28), E. TAILED BLUE (4/10), PEARL CRESCENT (4/7), and HORACE'S DUSKYWING (much earlier than normal: 4/14). We just learned that JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS were seen this week near Sandy Hook. And the first SNOWBERRY CLEARWING (one of the hummingbird moths) was seen April 17 and a NESSUS SPHINX on April 16. A few species of butterflies wintered as adults and are still being seen: MOURNING CLOAK, QUESTION MARK, and E. COMMA. Some butterflies migrate south in the fall to winter in warmer climates & are migrating north now to repopulate our area and further north. Dates when some of these "temporary breeding species" first appeared follow: AMERICAN SNOUT (4/3), AMERICAN LADY (4/4), PAINTED LADY (4/13), RED ADMIRAL (2/8), and MONARCH (4/10 in Port Republic).

The SLEEPY ORANGE, seen April 10, in Goshen doesn't fit any of these categories, being a RARE species in Cape May, seen once every several years and never before in the spring.

So, it's a fun time of year to join CMBO on either or both of our butterfly walks: EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29, CMBO's "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk," with Pat Sutton, from 10 a.m. to Noon, meets at the end of Jakes Landing Road. EVERY Sunday, now thru May 26 (except May 12 & 19), CMBO's "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies," with Louise Zemaitis, from 7-9 a.m., meets in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road 0.3 miles east of Bayshore Road.

Some dragonflies & damselflies are on the wing now. Be looking for: SPRINGTIME DARNERS (upper Maurice River on April 16), BLUE CORPORAL SKIMMERS, FRAGILE FORKTAILS, and RAMBUR'S FORKTAILS. And a GREEN DARNER was seen April 10 in Goshen.

TICKS are out in force. Explore with caution & be sure to do a thorough tick check of your person and your clothing after outings in South Jersey. CMBO's two bookstores carry excellent books on ticks and Lyme Disease. If you enjoy the outdoors, it is wise to be as educated as possible.

Last week CMBO reported that 8 of the MONARCHS tagged here last fall (7 at Cape May Point and 1 at Stone Harbor Point) were found in the winter roosts in Mexico in February. The Monarchs that survived the winter in Mexico mated and began migrating north mid-March. They laid eggs along the way on milkweed and reached the Gulf States before they died. Reports from Monarch Watch shared that eggs laid March 11 in McAllen, Texas, produced the first spring generation of adult Monarchs (emerged on April 4). These adults will continue the migration north and perhaps reach our area, mate, lay eggs, and die . . . and their eggs will create the next generation that will continue further north, until Monarchs repopulate the entire eastern U.S. all the way to southern Canada.

Journey North's web site details the northbound migration of Monarchs, along with that of many other species. As of April 18, Monarchs have been sighted all over Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, southern Oklahoma, 4 in Kansas, one as far north as Nebraska, another in southern Illinois, then all along the Gulf Coast, Florida Panhandle, a few in southern Florida, a few in northern Georgia, 4 in Tennessee, 8 in N. Carolina . . . then one lone Monarch in Port Republic, NJ on April 10 (who knows what that means . . . perhaps this Monarch successfully wintered further north than Mexico in Florida or Texas). Follow their movement yourself on Journey North's site: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/spring2002/species/monarch/index.html

Lots of HERPS are active and or vocal now. This week at least 11 species of frogs & toads were enjoyed. At Corbin City WMA & Tuckahoe WMA on April 17: BULLFROG (also CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen is full of huge Bullfrog tadpoles), GREEN FROG, S. LEOPARD FROG, CARPENTER FROG (Beaver Swamp WMA is another hotspot ... their call sounds like a carpenter hammering), WOOD FROG, FOWLER'S TOAD (sound like babies wailing), SPRING PEEPER, PINE BARREN'S TREEFROG ("quonk, quonk, quonk"), and N. GRAY TREEFROG. At Cape May Point State Park and elsewhere in Cape May County listen for S. GRAY TREEFROG. And along the Maurice River this week PICKEREL FROGS were heard. E. PAINTED TURTLE and RED-BELLIED TURTLES can be found sunning at East Creek Lake in Belleplain State Forest and elsewhere. 2 KING SNAKES were in Goshen on April 10.

COYOTES continue to be seen and heard south of the Cape May Canal in the vicinity of Hidden Valley Ranch and New England Road.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS this week were reported all the way north to mid-way up the coast of Maine and even a few sightings in Canada on the wonderful hummingbird web site: http://www.hummingbirds.net Cape May County's first sighting was April 13 at CMBO in Goshen, but the adult male (males arrive before females) did not linger, so they're not in thick YET. Many of the plants they are attracted to during their migration north are IN BLOOM: Joponica or Flowering Quince, Highbush Blueberry, Autumn Olive, many fruit trees, Large-flowered Vetch, and Wild Columbine. Be sure to hang your hummingbird feeders if you haven't already. And also be sure to maintain them. When our resident hummingbirds arrive, their activity will not drain the feeders. So, be sure to clean your feeders thoroughly every week (even if they are still full) and partially fill with fresh solution. Stop by CMBO to see our full selection of easy-to-maintain feeders and to get CMBO's handout on hummingbird feeder directions and maintenance. Coupling a feeder with habitat and gardens is the key. If you are new to hummingbird & butterfly gardening, be sure to read "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," by Pat Sutton, posted on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/NatureNotes/Garden.html

Also make a note that CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) has WILDLIFE GARDEN PLANTS FOR SALE now through October, EVERY DAY, including many trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials that are hard to find elsewhere. Stop by to see the selection, which changes weekly. A few of this week's sale items include: EASTERN RED CEDAR (30+ birds feed on the berries and Juniper Hairstreaks lay their eggs on this), ARROWWOOD VIBURNUM, SOUR GUM, BLACK CHOKEBERRY, CORAL HONEYSUCKLE (hummers!), HOPS (Question Marks lay their eggs on this), CATMINT, WILD COLUMBINE (hummers!), STINGING NETTLE (Red Admirals lay their eggs on this), and GARDEN PHLOX. If you'd like to be e-mailed as wildlife garden plants "for sale" are delivered to CMBO, send CMBO (600 Route 47 North, CMCH, NJ 08210) your e-mail address and ask to be added to this outgoing e-mail message list. Also, plan to take advantage of CMBO's "5th Annual Plant Swap & Plant Sale for Backyard Habitats" on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to Noon. This is a great cost-free way to start your first garden or expand on an already existing garden. Pot up and bring extra perennials in your wildlife garden (or trees, shrubs, vines) & bring them. Three of your plants will go into the plant swap and you will get a certificate redeemable for a new (to you) plant for each additional plant you bring.

RED-THROATED LOONS gather at the mouth of the Delaware Bay each spring (March & April) in enormous numbers. To savor this time, consider joining CMBO's popular "Cruisin' For Loons" trip this Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., which still has room. This trip will drink in the concentration of Red-throated Loons at the Concrete Ship and then hop on "The Skimmer" to explore the back bay waterways for Common Loons. Past trips have been treated to loons in full breeding plumage & some years calling birds. Join us for this special preregistration trip. Call 609-861-0700 for more details or to register!

N. GANNETS are still following in the wake of the ferry boats, offering close looks as birds feed and dive in the churned up water behind the boat. The mix of gannets is more immatures now than adults, where at the end of March they were 99.9% adults.

Many of CMBO's spring walks have been underway since April 1 and quite a spring it's been. The trickle of new arrivals has become a flood and many breeding birds are now abundant during these walks.

The Belleplain State Forest walks are enjoying lots of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS, PINE WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, & YELLOW WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, OVENBIRDS, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, and GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS. LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS, and E. PHOEBES are all in their usual haunts. Explore this forest with CMBO naturalists (who know it intimately) EVERY Thursday (thru May 30) and Saturday April 27, May 4, & May 25 on CMBO's "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.). Walk meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

SEASIDE SPARROWS, often hard to see, are singing and in full view in good numbers at Jakes Landing and elsewhere along the Delaware Bayshore, and being enjoyed along with CLAPPER RAILS, WILLETS, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS and much more on CMBO's "Raptors & Songbirds of the Delaware Bayshore walk, offered EVERY Sunday, now thru May 26 (except May 12 & 19), from 8-10 a.m., meeting at the CMBO Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, in Goshen.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, N. PARULA, WHITE-EYED VIREOS, and more have been enjoyed during CMBO's "Spring Migrants of the Rea Farm walk," offered EVERY Saturday, now thru June 8 (except May 11 & 18), from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting in the "The Beanery / Rea Farm" parking lot on Bayshore Road (not the produce stand on Stevens Street).

PIPING PLOVERS are back & enjoyed along with many other shorebirds and terns during CMBO's "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island Walk," offered EVERY Tuesday, April 16 to June 11, from 6 p.m. to dusk, meeting in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot.

E. MEADOWLARK, WOOD DUCKS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, HOUSE WREN, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, singing RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, AMERICAN KESTREL, flyover calling COMMON LOONS, and more were all enjoyed this week during CMBO's "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies Walk," offered EVERY Sunday, now thru May 26 (except May 12 & 19), from 7-9 a.m., meeting in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road 0.3 miles east of Bayshore Road.

The South Cape May Meadows this week has held WILLET, AMERICAN BITTERN, MARSH WREN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, SORA RAIL, various swallows, COMMON SNIPE (22 on April 11), and a displaying AMERICAN WOODCOCK at 8:20 p.m. on April 15. Join Pete Dunne EVERY Monday (thru June 24) for CMBO's "Birding with Pete Dunne walk," from 7:30-9:30 a.m., meeting at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard to enjoy this area.

WHIP-POOR-WILLS can be heard calling through the night now at Jakes Landing Road and a CHUCK WILL'S WIDOW was calling on April 18 in Goshen.

GREAT HORNED OWLS are our earliest nesting bird. Right now their chicks are very large and very visible. This is one time of year when you can EASILY see a Great Horned Owl if you have discovered an active nest. This hotline has been following the progress of two local nests since early February when they were discovered. Any nest should not be approached and luckily, in the case of these two nests, they can be viewed from public viewing platforms and are across water or out on the marsh, so hopefully safe from those who do not know better. One nest is in Avalon in an old Osprey nest on a platform (it has 1 chick) and can be viewed from the 5th Avenue street end, just off 20th Street. To reach this spot take the small bridge going west on 21st Street, then turn right onto 5th Avenue & go to the street end. The second nest is at Turkey Point (in Cumberland County) in an old Red-tailed Hawk's nest visible from the viewing platform at the end of Turkey Point Road. Great Horned Owls are vocal again and being heard about 7:30 p.m. or later most evenings. If you are hearing them call, you can be assured that they are on a nest somewhere in your woods.

BALD EAGLES, our second earliest nesting bird, are also now feeding young. In New Jersey, 34 pairs of breeding adults were monitored by volunteers in February and March when many pairs worked on nests and laid eggs. Some pairs never laid eggs, others abandoned nest sites. 22 of these pairs are busy with young. An amazing success story when we look back to 1982 when there was only one nest in the entire state. One of the most easily viewed nests in the state is at Stow Creek, in northwestern Cumberland County on the border of Salem County. This pair began incubating February 23 and their young hatched on April 4. Be sure to visit this nest now through June when the young begin to test their wings. A viewing platform on Route 623, just north of Stow Creek, offers an excellent view. Some of you joined CMBO for the popular "Bald Eagle Cruises on the Maurice River." The Bald Eagle nest we boated by now has two growing chicks.

OSPREY are incubating eggs now. NESTING BIRDS around the world that are monitored with cameras (including Osprey, a Barred Owl nest in western Massachusetts, a Screech Owl nest in Texas, and many, many others) can be found on this fun site: http://www.pitt.edu/~dziadosz

CMBO is taking registrations for our very popular, annual CAPE MAY SPRING WEEKEND (May 17-19), a 3-day event with walks beginning as early as Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. and running straight through Sunday at 5 p.m. An incredible opportunity to savor spring to the fullest with bird, butterfly, dragonfly, and botany walks running all weekend long at a variety of famous hotspots, back bay boat trips, special programs and workshops, book signings by local authors, special evening programs (Friday's program is by Clay & Pat Sutton on the Galapagos and Saturday's program is by Pete Dunne) and more. And the entire weekend has multiple opportunities for the full range of expertise: beginners, intermediates, and experts alike. Call CMBO to get a brochure (609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736). NJ Audubon's web site has some details about the weekend: http://www.njaudubon.org/centers/cmbo/springweekend.html

Other Cape May Bird Observatory Spring Offerings include 8 different weekly walks for birds, butterflies and gardens ("hitting" each of the spring hotspots) that requires no preregistration; JUST COME! There is a charge ($6 CMBO/ NJ Audubon member; $10 nonmember). Details follow:

EVERY Friday (thru May 31, except May 17) --"Birds of Higbee Beach" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at Higbee Beach WMA parking lot at the west end of New England Road

EVERY Friday (thru June 28, except May 10 & 17) -- "Garden Maintenance Workshop" (9:30 a.m.-Noon) meets at the CMBO Center in Goshen (and is FREE ... learn about wildlife gardening while you help tend the garden with garden consultant, Karen Williams).

EVERY Saturday (thru June 8, except May 11 & 18) -- "Spring Migrants of the Rea Farm" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets in the "The Beanery / Rea Farm" parking lot on Bayshore Road (not the produce stand on Stevens Street).

Saturday April 27, May 4, & May 25 -- "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.) meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

EVERY Sunday (thru May 26, except May 12 & 19) -- "Hidden Valley for Birds & Butterflies" (7-9 a.m.) meets in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road 0.3 miles east of Bayshore Road.

EVERY Sunday (thru May 26, except May 12 & 19) -- "Raptors & Songbirds of the Delaware Bayshore" (8-10 a.m.) meets at the CMBO Center for Research & Education, 600 Route 47 North, in Goshen.

EVERY Monday (thru June 24) -- "Birding with Pete Dunne" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at The Nature Conservancy's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard

EVERY Tuesday, April 16 to June 11 -- "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island" (6 p.m. to dusk) meets in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot.

EVERY Tuesday, April 30 to May 28 -- "Birding Hot Spot of the Week" (7:30 to 9:30 a.m.) meets at Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion.

EVERY Wednesday (thru June 26) -- "Birding Cape May Point" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) meets at the Cape May Point State Park in the raised picnic pavilion.

EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29 -- "Birding by Ear Walk" (7:30-9:30 a.m.) -- Meet Pat Sutton at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

EVERY Wednesday, April 24 to May 29 -- "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" (10 a.m. - Noon) -- Meet Pat Sutton at the end of Jakes Landing Road.

EVERY Thursday (thru May 30) -- "Birds of the Deep South in Belleplain State Forest" (7:30-10:30 a.m.) meets at Belleplain State Forest Field Office, just off Rt. 550, west of Woodbine.

EVERY Thursday, April 25 to June 20 -- "Birds, Butterflies, and Their Habitat" (1:00-3:00 p.m.) -- Meet Mark Garland in parking lot at Higbee Beach WMA.

Requiring preregistration & not to be missed !!! EVERY Sunday & Monday, April 21 to June 30 (except May 19) join Captain Bob Carlough & explore the back bays and marshes aboard the Skimmer, a 40-foot catamaran, on CMBO-sponsored "Back Bay Birding by Boat" (10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in April & May; 10:00 a.m. to Noon in June). To register, call Wildlife Unlimited at 609-884-3100.

CMBO's SPRING PROGRAMS "in full" (April through June 2002) are posted on New Jersey Audubon's web site: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html Some preregistration spring programs include a "Cruisin' For Loons" field trip & cruise on April 20, "Clapper Rail Madness" on April 26 (and again on May 3 & May 10), CMBO's "5th Annual Plant Swap for Backyard Habitat Plants" on April 27, a field trip to the "Cape May NWR's Great Cedar Swamp Division" on April 27, "Full Moon Over the Meadows" on April 27, a "Warbler ID Mini-Workshop with Louise Zemaitis on May 4, a "Hessel's Hairstreak in the Jersey Pine Barrens" field trip on May 4 with Pat Sutton, a "Sunset Cruise for Spring Migrants & Heron Rookeries" on May 4, a full-day field trip exploring "Cape May Top to Bottom" with Mark Garland on May 5, the "Cape May Century Run Team" (an official team in NJ Audubon's World Series of Birding) with Pat Sutton on May 11, lots of shorebird & horseshoe crab programs by mid-May, and much, much more! To receive a copy of the spring schedule stop by either CMBO Center or call 609-861-0700.

The Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this hotline. For more information call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Our two centers are CMBO's Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point.

The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline call 609-898-BIRD. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

Patricia Sutton, Program Director New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research & Education 600 Route 47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax) pat_sutton@njaudubon.org

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