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Announcing the 2017 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner: Dr. Ian A. McLaren
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Announcing the 2017 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner: Dr. Ian A. McLaren

This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. For his lifetime achievements and contributions to the fields of marine biology and regional ornithology, Nature Canada is honoured to present Dr. Ian A. McLaren with its 2017 Douglas H. Pimlott Award. [caption id="attachment_34714" align="alignright" width="392"]Image of Ian McLaren Ian McLaren[/caption] A longtime professor and researcher in marine biology and ecology at Dalhousie University, Dr. Ian McLaren has spent an enthusiastic and inquisitive life in the Canadian outdoors. After attaining his doctorate in 1961 at Yale, Dr. McLaren returned to his hometown of Montreal to work as an assistant professor in the Marine Sciences Centre at McGill. In 1966, he relocated to Dalhousie University in Halifax to be an associate professor of biology. There he spent the majority of his academic career, teaching undergraduate courses in subjects such as biological diversity, ecology, vertebrate and invertebrate biology, and population and community ecology, and acting as a supervisor or committee member for over 60 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Always aware of the need for habitat protection, Dr. McLaren was heavily involved in the establishment of both the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and the Sable Island Preservation Trust (now Friends of Sable Island NP), which has led to the protection of the province’s unique coastal ecosystems and offshore islands. His research garnered from times spent on Sable Island off the coast of eastern Nova Scotia led to a definitive study of the Ipswich Sparrow, a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow, which breeds only on that island. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Dr. McLaren spent 12 seasons in the Eastern Canadian Arctic (now Nunavut) mostly with the research vessel Calanus but also a 6-month stint of camping in isolation with his wife Bernice near Frobisher Bay, where he studied the limnology of Ogac Lake, with its relict landlocked cod. His passion for the islands spills into his family life. Bernice fondly recalls a first summer of their marriage spent in a tent in the Canadian North. The couple also spent many late summers with their three children on Seal Island off the southwest tip of Nova Scotia. Formally retired, Dr. McLaren he continues to stay extremely active both personally and professionally as professor emeritus at Dalhousie, and continuing to birdwatch, publish avian research and use his voice of reason to advocate for pertinent causes. He tirelessly pushes for the preservation of habitats, the need for urban green spaces and Nature Canada’s campaign to keep cats from roaming unsupervised. He speaks on climate change, Species at Risk, and the biomass “harvesting” of the Acadian forest. As a supporter of the Nova Scotia Young Naturalists Association, he is a voice of encouragement and support for the next generation of nature researchers. Notable publications and articles During his career, Dr. McLaren has been a prolific researcher and writer, publishing more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from the biology of seals and plankton in Arctic Canada, the rules of growth and production of marine zooplankton, and the relationships of marine fish recruitment to zooplankton distribution and abundance. Dr. McLaren is an avid birder and his passion for ornithology has led to work both formal and avocational. He is the author of the comprehensive All the Birds of Nova Scotia (2012). This unmatched resource for serious birders compiles and evaluates a broad range of historical and contemporary data gathered by both ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers. In the work, Dr. McLaren describes the status and key identification issues for all bird species, distinctive subspecies and variations thought to have occurred in Nova Scotia up to 2010. Additionally, Dr. MacLaren coordinated the third posthumous edition of Robie Tufts’ much-loved Birds of Nova Scotia (1995). Since 2010, Dr. McLaren has served as editor of the magazine Nova Scotia Birds. He is a past regional editor for the American Birding Association magazine North American Birds. [caption id="attachment_14852" align="alignleft" width="417"]osprey Osprey. Photographed by Jim Adams[/caption] Notable awards and associations Throughout his career, Dr. McLaren has been heavily involved on numerous boards, councils, committees of regional and national conservation, and natural history organizations. He became a member on arrival in Nova Scotia of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, for which he also served as president. He continues his involvement as a director, editor, contributor, and speaker. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals as well as a 2012 recipient of the American Birding Association’s prestigious Ludlow Griscom Award for Outstanding Contributions in Regional Ornithology. Dr. McLaren is a longtime member and a former chair of the Board of Directors for Nature Canada, for which he has been a steadying guide and presence during our organization’s challenging times. Fellow Board Member Joan Czapalay, who nominated Dr. McLaren for the award, states, “He is tireless, courteous to all, and has a wonderful sense of humour.” The Douglas H. Pimlott Award is Nature Canada’s highest award and is given to someone who, whether as a professional or a private citizen, has made significant contributions to conservation. Learn more about the award, including eligibility and past recipients here: http://naturecanada.ca/about/awards-scholarships/pimlott/

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Announcing the 2015 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner – Anne Murray
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Announcing the 2015 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner – Anne Murray

Nature Canada Pimlott Award CrestThe Douglas H. Pimlott Award is Nature Canada’s highest honour, awarded to an individual whose outstanding contributions to Canadian conservation serve as an example to us all. Nature Canada is proud to announce that Anne Murray is the 2015 Douglas H. Pimlott Award Winner. Anne’s dedication to nature conservation is truly inspiring. Anne volunteers with a number of nature organizations, including Nature Canada, Bird Studies Canada, B.C. Nature, Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust, Delta Naturalists’ Society, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK. Anne was active for many years with the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee in highlighting the importance of the Fraser River delta and its migratory birds, and in successful and unsuccessful campaigns to protect habitat there. She co-authored Ours to Preserve which documented environmental goals around Boundary Bay, Delta, and was endorsed by numerous groups and municipalities. Anne also authored A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past ~ A Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay, which explores the ecological history of the Fraser delta area. Anne has been deeply involved since 1996 with the Canadian Important Bird Area Program, and is a member of the BC IBA Program Conservation Team that oversees the province’s IBA Caretaker Program. As a Trustee of the Delta Museum and Archives Trustee she initiated the successful Delta History Hunters program. Anne has received recognition for her conservation work, including the John Davidson Award from Nature Vancouver, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, and BC Nature’s Elton Anderson Award. Anne’s accomplishments are huge, but how did she get where she is today? We asked Anne to tell us more about how she became one of BC’s leading lights in nature conservation...

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[caption id="attachment_22429" align="alignleft" width="150"]Anne Murray Anne Murray[/caption] I cannot remember a time when I did not like nature: birds, animals, flowers, even snakes! Yet I was not born in the countryside, or even in the suburbs, but in a city neighbourhood of London, England, when it was the second largest city in the world. Where did it come from, this innate love of nature? I grew up surrounded by buildings, streets, vehicles, and the visual scars of World War 2 bombing, so it must have come from my parents and early teachers. My father lived as a child in Eden - in his eyes the most beautiful valley in England, lying between the sands of the Solway Firth and the hills of Cumbria. My mother was born amid the gentle scenery of rural Sussex, later moving to the coastal county of Essex. Between them they knew the names and ways of animals and birds, and every flower that grew. Life’s waves and the war tossed them into London, where they grew vegetables and roses in rented gardens. My first birdwatching was seeing house sparrows come to crumbs outside our kitchen window and watching the evening flights of starlings wheeling overhead as they headed to roost. Few city children have the benefit of a woodland in their school yard, but the convent school had a farm and large grounds. We picked sticky buds of chestnut trees to watch them open in spring, and listened to the birds singing. One day, I found a grass snake in the long grass by the playing field. A teacher took us on nature walks in the wood, which had bluebells in spring and a deep hole that we were told was a fox burrow. Foxes still live in London; I recently saw a mother and two kits early one morning, beside the railway tracks at Hammersmith Station. [caption id="attachment_22442" align="alignright" width="250"] Blackburnian Warbler by Alan Woodhouse[/caption] I loved books that had nature pictures: an encyclopedia was a particular favourite. My siblings and I would peruse the exotic birds and animals illustrated in glorious colour and would try and choose “a favourite”. As presents, I received four Ladybird nature books written by Grant Watson, illustrated by Charles Tunnicliffe, starting with “What to look for in spring”. I seldom had a chance to see the English countryside shown in the books – our family had no car – but I longed to inhabit it. Tunnicliffe’s beautiful watercolours showed nature and rural life with great accuracy. These were not cartoons and the colours were subtle and natural. I pored over them for hours. When I was about twelve, I put nest boxes and bird feeders in our garden, and joined the Junior Bird Recorders Club of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which almost contemporaneously changed its name to the Young Ornithologists’ Club. I became an enthusiastic member, wearing my kestrel pin with pride and saving up my pocket money for field trips to RSPB reserves. My parents bought me bird books and encouraged my interest, and kindly naturalists took groups of us kids out to look for nightjars in the dark, on a boat trip to Havergate Island to see rare nesting avocets, and introduced us to the bitterns and marsh harriers of Minsmere. When the time came to leave school and interview for university, I headed to Exeter in Devon. Flocks of roosting gulls flew overhead in the pinkish dusk of a February evening, and I could smell the sea on the breeze. It was where I spent the next three years, and began my adult life. I tell this story to illustrate that yearning to connect with nature can be found in many places, cities included. For children to connect with nature, and all the pleasure that brings, all it takes is some help from the adults around them. It is never too late. One of my greatest pleasures today, is sharing the sights and sounds of nature with others, and watching their interest grow as their knowledge increases. Email Signup

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth
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Rest in Peace, Elizabeth

[gap height="20"] [caption id="attachment_17821" align="alignright" width="150"]Elizabeth Walker and Julia Gamble Elizabeth and her daughter, Julia Gamble[/caption] We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of long time Nature Canada volunteer, Elizabeth Walker last night. We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Elizabeth's family including her daughter, Julia Gamble, Nature Canada's Director of Finance. Elizabeth's love of nature and passion for helping others through volunteering were infectious. It has been a joy to have her in our office and to be able to share in her quiet and steadfast dedication. She will be sorely missed by Nature Canada staff. [gap height="50"]

Foresters volunteers join Nature Canada’s BioBlitz
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Foresters volunteers join Nature Canada’s BioBlitz

Nature Canada wants to thank the wonderful volunteers at Foresters for joining us at the Fall BioBlitz. Foresters insurance company partners with charitable organizations to support families and communities through volunteering events. The Fall BioBlitz was one such event. 15 volunteers joined Nature Canada at the Fall BioBlitz at Mud Lake to build bird and bat houses. In total 24 bird houses and 12 bat houses were constructed and donated to Nature Canada. We will work with communities to place the bird and bat houses in critical spots around the city to support healthy urban wildlife populations. Thank you Foresters volunteers! [caption id="attachment_16901" align="aligncenter" width="945"]photo of family building a bird house Building bird houses at the BioBlitz[/caption] [caption id="attachment_16900" align="aligncenter" width="945"]photo of people building a bat house Building a bat house at the BioBlitz[/caption] [caption id="attachment_16902" align="aligncenter" width="945"]photo of volunteers with complete bird and bat housees Foresters volunteers with the completed bird and bat houses at the BioBlitz[/caption] Photography by Susanne Ure.

Volunteers needed for new local initiative
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Volunteers needed for new local initiative

Millions of birds die every year in North America after colliding with buildings, making window strikes a leading cause of death for migratory birds. Help us learn more about where and why birds are colliding with buildings in the Ottawa area by volunteering for the local Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) initiative. FLAP Ottawa needs volunteers to help for a few hours each week during the migration season. Training will be provided. Volunteer Roles: FLAP Patroller: Patrol the streets to rescue injured birds and collect birds killed by window strikes. Keep detailed records of when and where you find each bird. • Must be willing to commit to at least 1 early morning patrol per week (minimum 2 hours) during the migration season. Patrols usually start at sunrise, although they can continue throughout the day. • Must be comfortable picking up dead birds and handling stunned and potentially injured birds safely. Training for live bird handling can be provided. • Must keep detailed notes, including when and where each bird is found. The data that we collect through patrols will be vital to determining the problem areas in Ottawa and will help us direct our future efforts. Ambulance driver: Be on call to help transport injured birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre for medical attention. • Must have a driver’s licence and access to a car at short notice. • Must be willing to transport the birds safely. This means moving them as little as possible, keeping them level, and providing a cool, quiet environment. Event and Outreach Assistant: Share the message of how to prevent window strikes at local events. Help us plan and deliver educational and fundraising events during the migration season. Or use your social media savvy to help us share the message on Facebook and Twitter. • Must be comfortable communicating with the public at various technical levels (generally basic) and staying consistent with FLAP messaging. • Preference will be given to volunteers who also volunteer on patrols, as this are the best way to become comfortable with and knowledgeable about the program. Interested in one of these opportunities or have an idea about how you can share your skills in another way? Find out more about FLAP at flap.org and contact ottawa@flap.org to get involved today! FLAP Ottawa is a program of FLAP Canada, supported locally by Nature Canada      Ottawa field naturalists logowild bird care cenre logo        

Meet our NatureCaretakers
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Meet our NatureCaretakers

We are proud to launch a video highlighting the successes of the Canadian Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas program. The IBA program is a global initiative to conserve birds and their habitats. In Canada, Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada co-deliver the program. Together with our partners, we are achieving science-based results and working towards site-specific conservation for birds and other critical biodiversity. The video draws attention to the work of our NatureCaretakers - the eyes, ears and boots on the ground at IBAs across the country. [video type="youtube" id="xpcA5lD18SM"]  

 "Nature Canada is going to keep pushing hard to have the federal government recognize these critically important sites. But, in the meantime, we’re going to have to pull together, roll up our sleeves and do the heavy lifting ourselves. This video will help us do just that by attracting even more volunteer caretakers and by attracting new national sponsors," said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada Interim Executive Director.
We work with all levels of government, including First Nations, to incorporate IBAs in land-use planning policies and engage corporations and private landowners to include IBAs in their decision-making. Through public awareness campaigns, innovative partnerships with industry, and strengthened bonds with our non-government partners, we enhance the profile of the entire IBA network and achieve greater protection for these priority sites.
 “Advancing the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats is the core of Bird Studies Canada’s mission – and also represents a perfect fit with the IBA Program,” said George Finney, President of Bird Studies Canada.
You can help protect, monitor and educate your community about a nearby IBA by volunteering with the NatureCaretakers program. You would be joining a network of over 200 volunteers who safeguard areas that are critical for breeding and staging birds and other wildlife.
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Nature Canada logo Bird Studies Canada logo BirdLife International Logo Important Bird Areas logo
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My first snow experience
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My first snow experience

David in snow
David Njuguna is a volunteer with Nature Canada. He hails from Kenya and is participating in Canada World Youth’s Youth Leaders in Action program. David will be completing a two-month work placement with Nature Canada, starting in early October and ending in November. He will be joining the Communications and Conservation teams and helping them with various projects.  I have heard a lot of stories about the snow. Some people says that they like it and others don’t. Since I came to Canada I haven’t had the chance to see a huge snow fall. When I meet a new person or a group of people, the only thing  we talk about is the snow. Questions that come up include: how I will dress during the snow fall? Is there snow in Kenya? Sometimes it gets cold in Kenya but I have never seen the temperature go below 8 degrees Celsius. When it gets cold in Canada, I almost freeze! One time I forgot my hat and I got so cold that I couldn’t even feel my ears. A few days ago, the snow started falling little by little and when I woke up at around seven the next morning, everything was white. Everything looked so beautiful! The roads were all covered with snow. The snow was quite deep because my shoes were all covered by the snow as I was walking. Another thing I noticed was that it was not as cold as some people said it would be. In fact, I didn’t even put my gloves on. It was so amazing and I really loved it.

My first camping experience in the Baxter Conservation Area
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My first camping experience in the Baxter Conservation Area

David Njuguna is a volunteer with Nature Canada. He hails from Kenya and is participating in Canada World Youth’s Youth Leaders in Action program. David will be completing a two-month work placement with Nature Canada, starting in early October and ending in November. He will be joining the Communications and Conservation teams and helping them with various projects. As part of Canada World Youth's program, we visited the Baxter conservation area. It was a great experience. We were a group of twenty; ten Kenyans and ten Canadians. Our main objective was to go camping and we were really determined to do so. Baxter Conservation Area is situated on 80 hectares along the shore of the Rideau River; Baxter is a beautiful example of river flood plain. It Is basically a wetland with various hard wood trees, bean trees and shrubs. After arriving there, we started putting up our tents. It was my first time camping so I was learning how to put up a camping tent too. We then put our sleeping bags inside the tent. It was getting cold as time went by and it was very windy. The clouds were so dark. They were sending us a message but its like we ignored it. Despite the strong wind, we made a camp fire which was really fun. We made a lot of jokes, sang many songs and also told some stories.  It was warm at the camp fire but we warmed ourselves from behind sometimes due to the cold wind that was blowing. I enjoyed watching people warm their backs because it was like they were sitting in the fire. Approximately an hour and a half  after settling in the tents, it started raining. It got even colder so we slept with our jackets on. The ground became wet but all we wanted was to spend a night in the tents. Neither the wind nor the rain could have stopped us. After waking up in the following morning, my back was aching, my hands were so cold, I felt so tired and my neck was aching too. I felt like I had spent the whole night digging. I almost regretted spending the night there but overall, I enjoyed the whole experience.

 

Fall Clean Up at the IBA
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Fall Clean Up at the IBA

Britannia Beach.  Yes, we Ottawans have a beautiful beach.  Having recently returned from England, I often feel a compulsion to run down to the beach just to see it there.  It’s the kind of place you travel to other places to see.  This past August, my husband and I were married on the shores of the Ottawa River with grey herring gulls flying overhead.  It was a perfect day. After the whole wedding etc, I realized I wanted to give back to the place that gave me so much.  Supporting Nature Canada in their Clean-up Ottawa enterprise was just the right thing.  In the early hours of the morning, my co-conspirator Sarah and I embarked on our mission.  Loaded with flags (for easy viewing), pens, chairs, forms, pamphlets and bags, we were set to make the best of a chilly day and it’s impending forecast of 2 mm of rain.  (It should be duly noted that this was a blatant lie.  Torrential downpour the likes of the Amazon would have been a more appropriate prediction.) IMG_9197_2 Arriving at the beach, I felt a sense of “Yes! We are doing SOMETHING!”  It’s a funny feeling.  When you’re growing up you think: I have to fix the world.  Then you travel and you realize: the world is too big, I can’t fix it.  I’ve soon realized that although we inhabit the same planet, we don’t inhabit the same worlds.  Each effort has a reciprocating effect on someone somewhere and if you’ve made a positive effort, then you’ve improved life in that world. The Lac Deschenes is a crucial meeting of worlds between urban Ottawa and birdlife.  Not just Canadian birds (for they have neither citizen privileges nor the right to vote) but international ones too; birds that use the Ottawa River as their navigational highway.   This shared space functions not just as a wedding venue, summer hotspot and photographer haven, but as a 365-day-a-year home.  Thus, the gathering of dedicated volunteers that showed up on Saturday was indeed helping change worlds.  Locals, first-time volunteers, families and one unstoppable vegan didn’t even blink at the prospect of cleaning up in the chill.  Special mention should go to the high school students that came out to get their hours: there are a million and one ways to get your hours so we were grateful that they picked our event to make that happen.  Well done! [caption id="attachment_1796" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_9205_2 In total we collected 15 full garbage bags and 7 bags of recycling.[/caption] Most litter collected was in the form of pop bottles, cans, waste paper, cigarette butts and knick-knacks.  (To whoever is dumping paint cans in the forest… really?)  Nobody balked at getting right under trees to the lower prickly branches where litter gets trapped, or checking each individual fence railings, or excavating under trees.  One dedicated family braved the slurpy mud to pull things out of the mire.  Torrential rain?  Sheets of cascading freezing rain? No problem.  We’ve got this. Although it might seem futile to spend energy clearing small items, it’s exactly what’s needed to prevent birds from eating rubbish.  What we see as insignificant, they can interpret as food.    In total our 32 volunteers collected 15 full garbage bags and 7 recycling bags.  22 bags of litter that won’t be underfoot when beach season starts next year.  22 bags of litter that won’t travel the Canada Goose digestive system.  22 bags worth of human effort to make the world a better place. Despite the rain. IMG_9202_2 We would like to thank co-organizer of this event, Meztly Abrego for this post. Meztly grew up in the Ottawa area and is a teacher.

My First Month in Canada
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My First Month in Canada

[three_fourth]David Njuguna is a volunteer with Nature Canada. He hails from Kenya and is participating in Canada World Youth’s Youth Leaders in Action program. David will be completing a two-month work placement with Nature Canada, starting in early October and ending in November. My name is David Njuguna and I am a volunteer with Canada World Youth from Kenya. It has been now one month since I arrived in Canada. For the past few weeks, I have been volunteering with Nature Canada. While I’m here, I will be helping them with various communications and conservations projects. So far, I’ve found that Canadians are nice people, welcoming and also very busy with their things. Most of them like pets especially dogs, which they keep indoors unlike in my country. I like the house designs in the residential areas which look similar to each other with some trees outside every house. The trees bring very beautiful scenery. The environment in Canada is well preserved, right from the grassroots level where every citizen has planted a number of trees in their homesteads.  Waste is also well managed; the biodegradable and non-biodegradable are put out separately for disposal. I am sure this makes it easier for the recycling companies to carry out their jobs effectively. I also like how the garbage is collected outside houses on some days of the week. Ottawa has very good public transportation; the buses operate very well around Ottawa. In Kenya, we mostly use some 14-seater vehicles called matatus which play very loud music. There are lots of them, especially in towns. This  causes huge traffic congestion and pollution too. The buses here carry a lot of people thus reducing congestion compared to matatus in Kenya. Sometimes the buses can be confusing if you are a visitor and you can end up getting lost. I used to get lost, especially during the first two weeks. I remember there was one time when I was taking my friends to my home and unfortunately we took the wrong bus i.e. instead of taking bus 71, we took bus 77. After realizing that we were lost, we got off the bus and we had to walk quite a distance to pick another bus to get home. Most of the roads in Ottawa are also in very good condition compared to those my country, Kenya. Road accidents are not so common in Ottawa, although I have heard of two accidents in the one month that I’ve been here. In Kenya, accidents are very common such that you can hear of an accident every day. This is mostly caused by poor infrastructure and impaired drivers. Canadians are also good in obeying rules especially when it comes to the traffic. In Kenya, some drivers tend to ignore the traffic lights e.g. if it’s red and there are vehicles from other directions, some just cross the road. I guess Kenyans are very impatient. I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of my time here in Canada. [/three_fourth][one_fourth_last] [/one_fourth_last]

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