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29 October 2016

Birds of prey in Falkland Islands

Barn Owl (倉鴞)
Falkland Islands (2016)

13th January, 2016. Stanley

Birds of prey are also termed “raptors”, derived from the Latin rapere, meaning to take or seize by force. They are characterised by sharply curved bills, powerful feet with large talons, exceptional eyesight in diurnal species and specially adapted hearing in nocturnal species.

The Falkland Islands has seven species of raptor: six of these are represented in this issue; the seventh is the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura falklandica), a New World vulture.

Striated Caracara (條紋卡拉鷹)
Falkland Islands (2016)
13th January, 2016. Stanley

Peregrine Falcon (擬游隼)
Falkland Islands (2016)

13th January, 2016. Stanley

3 September 2016

Matt Sewell’s Birds
Matt Sewell雀鳥

Atlantic Puffin (角嘴海雀)
Isle of Man (2016)
24th March, 2016. Isle of Man

The 10 iconic illustrations from the celebrated artist and ornithologist showcase the diverse range of birdlife the British Isles, including the Isle of Man. Recreated from the original water colours, the images include many popular species, but we are especially pleased that this set of stamps includes the Manx Shearwater as an exclusive design.

Matt will be familiar to some as former artist-in-residence on the BBC’s Springwatch Unsprung and his appearances on Countryfile, but his work has reached a global audience through a series of books, publications like the Guardian and The Big Issue and exhibitions in London, Manchester, New York, Tokyo and Paris.

As someone who admits to having been obsessed with birds for as long as they can remember, an invitation to see what Manx shores had to offer was too good to miss for Matt, and didn’t disappoint.

The Isle of Man is home to dozens of species including fittingly given the subject of Matt’s new book, many seabirds. Numbered among them is the Manx Shearwater, a bird once threatened with a severe decline in numbers which is now once again on the increase. Matt’s Shearwater illustration is a wonderful and exclusive addition to this set.

Matt has also written text to accompany the stamp, explaining his lifelong love of birds, how he began drawing them and offering often whimsical descriptions of the species featured. He also talks about his conservation work with charities fighting to protect under-threat bird habitats.

Common Pheasant (雉雞)
Isle of Man (2016)
24th March, 2016. Isle of Man

Blue Tit (藍山雀)
Isle of Man (2016)
24th March, 2016. Isle of Man

European Robin (知更鳥)
Isle of Man (2016)
24th March, 2016. Isle of Man

Goldfinch (紅額金翅雀)
Isle of Man (2016)
24th March, 2016. Isle of Man

Common Starling (椋鳥)
Isle of Man (2016)
24th March, 2016. Isle of Man

27 August 2016

Bailiwick Life

Atlantic Puffin (角嘴海雀)
Guernsey (2016)

7th February, 2015. Guernsey

This latest issue of Guernsey Post & Go stamps includes six fantastic images of animals, all of which are associated with the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

The first of the stamps features a donkey, partly in recognition of the fact that people of Guernsey are sometimes referred to as donkeys! The inclusion of the donkey in this set is also to pay homage to the original Guernsey golden donkey, which is now extinct.

Other animals with island connections pictured on the stamps include the Guernsey golden goat, the iconic Guernsey cow, the Atlantic grey seal, the puffin and the unusual blonde hedgehog.

13 August 2016

Purple Finch

Purple Finch (紫紅朱雀)
St Pierre et Miquelon (2016)
7th April, 2016. Miquelon

Purple Finch and the other "American rosefinches" are placed in the genus Haemorhous by the American Ornithologists' Union but have usually been included in Carpodacus. It is included in the finch family, Fringillidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in the northern hemisphere and Africa. The purple finch was originally described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1789.

There are two subspecies of the purple finch, it differs from the nominate subspecies in that it has a longer tail and shorter wing. The plumage of both males and females are darker, and the coloration of the females is more greenish. The bill of C. p. californicus is also longer than that of the nominate subspecies.

Adults have a short forked brown tail and brown wings and are about 15 cm in length and weigh 34 g (1.2 oz). Adult males are raspberry red on the head, breast, back and rump; their back is streaked. Adult females have light brown upperparts and white underparts with dark brown streaks throughout; they have a white line on the face above the eye.

30 July 2016

Mandarin Duck

China (2015)
20th August, 2015. Nanping, Fujian

Mandarin Duck is a perching duck species found in East Asia. It is medium-sized, at 41–49 cm (16–19 in) long with a 65–75cm wingspan. As the other member of the genus Aix, it is closely related to the North American wood duck.

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and "whiskers". The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange "sails" at the back. The female is similar to female wood duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

Both the males and females have crests, but the crest is more pronounced on the male.

Like many other species of ducks, the male undergoes a moult after the mating season into eclipse plumage. When in eclipse plumage, the male looks similar to the female, but can be told apart by their bright yellow-orange beak, lack of any crest, and a less-pronounced eye-stripe.

Mandarin ducklings are almost identical in appearance to wood ducklings, and very similar to mallard ducklings. The ducklings can be distinguished from mallard ducklings because the eye-stripe of mandarin ducklings (and wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.

9 July 2016

Bee-eaters of Namibia

European Bee-eater (黃喉蜂虎) 
Namibia (2015)
9th April, 2012. Rundi

Southern Carmine Bee-eater (南紅蜂虎) 
Namibia (2015)
9th April, 2012. Rundi

Little Bee-eater (小蜂虎) 
Namibia (2015)
9th April, 2012. Rundi

With their colourful aerobatics, bee-eaters are amongst the most striking of all small birds. As their name implies, bee-eaters live on bees and other flying insects, which they hawk in flight during spectacular aerial pursuits, or snatch from vegetation or the ground. Using their long, sharp, curved bills, the birds will pound stinging insects against a perch to discharge their sting before eating them. Bee-eater species vary significantly in size, yet all are relatively small birds with intricately-coloured plumage. Most bee-eaters are gregarious and roost together, as well as congregating on favourite perches that overlook ideal hunting grounds. Some species nest in large colonies, gathering in spectacular flocks during the breeding season. Some migrate to Namibia from other parts of Africa or Europe and are seen in our country only during the summer months.

2 April 2016

Wetlands of Uruguay

Scarlet-headed Blackbird (猩紅頭黑雀)
Uruguay (2015)

5th June, 2015. Punta del Este

Snowy Egret (美洲雪鷺)
Uruguay (2015)
5th June, 2015. Punta del Este

The spotlight will shine on Uruguay's spectacular Bañados del Este y Franja Costera wetland when it hosts the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP12) in Punta del Este between 1-9 June.

The Bañados del Este y Franja Costera wetland is located on the eastern side of Uruguay, sharing a border with Brazil and taking in some of the country’s South Atlantic coast. An internationally recognised biosphere reserve, it comprises a vast complex of coastal wetlands, including various lagoons and parts of rivers. Altogether, these form a rich habitat for an assortment of wildlife, including myriad species that are categorised as near-threatened or endangered – one notable example is the juvenile green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Bañados del Este y Franja Costera was added to the Montreux Record, the register for wetlands where ecological changes have occurred or are occurring because of human interference, in July 1990. The area had already been designated as a wetland of international significance in 1984, thereby coming under the auspices of the Convention on Wetlands (or Ramsar Convention) which is committed to the conservation of vulnerable wetlands while achieving sustainable development by delivering a framework action at local and global levels.

The Bañados del Este y Franja Costera wetland is situated in the departments of Rocha and Treinta y Tres in eastern Uruguay (its coordinates are: 33°48'S 053°50'W). The site covers an approximate area of some 407,408 hectares. Many of the country’s rivers flow east toward the Atlantic and empty into lagoons in the coastal plain – the largest of these is Laguna Merin, Uruguay’s easternmost destination and part of the reserve.

12 March 2016

Spring series 2015 - Owls
春季系列2015年 - 貓頭鷹

L : Short-eared Owl (短耳鴞) ; R : Great Horned Owl (大雕鴞)
Uruguay (2015)
30th September, 2015. Montevideo

Uruguay is home to birds. Uruguay was named after the Uruguay River, which meant in Guarani, the native people’s language,  “A river where colored birds inhabit”.

Uruguay is the best country for bird-watching.

There are 9 bird-watching sites found along the coastline and 11 such sites inland. Near these sites are hotels, restaurants, and Estancias (farms and ranches) ready to welcome tourists and visitors.

As the birds you may encounter vary place to place, it is advisable to check the information in advance: the families of herons are seen in the eastern wetland; the families of sea gulls are at the mouth of rivers and brooks; the families of ibises and crows are in the northern ravines; thrushes and tanagers are in the forests; and lesser rheas, the biggest birds seen in South America, and harriers are in the grasslands.
Although most migratory birds come flying from September through March, bird-watching is a year-round leisure since vermillion flycatchers and frigate birds come flying in spring, and Magellan penguins, albatrosses and petrels come flying in winter.

The lake Rocha is famous for allowing you to watch black-necked swans and flamingos. You can even find nests of ovenbirds on the electric poles and roofs in the urban district. Let’s look for them when you do not go to the sanctuaries for bird-watching.

Uruguay is the best country for bird-watching, where more than 440 kinds of wild birds live.

20 February 2016

Norway birds II

 White Wagtail (白鶺鴒)
Norway (2015)
3rd October, 2015. Oslo

King Eider (王絨鴨)
Norway (2015)
3rd October, 2015. Oslo

Common Eider (歐絨鴨)
Norway (2015)
3rd October, 2015. Oslo

Northern Wheatear (穗䳭)
Norway (2015)
3rd October, 2015. Oslo

King Eider is species of the duck family is a little smaller than the common eider, but is more colourful.

It mainly keeps to the polar areas of North America and Russia but also breeds in the northernmost areas of Norway. Even though the majority of the king eider population spends the winter in the Barents Sea, up to 100,000 individuals winter on the windswept edges of the islands off the coast of Northern Norway. The king eider is a capable diver that brings up molluscs , cray­fish and sea urchins from depths of 40 to 60 metres.

Common eider is the largest of our diving ducks and can weigh up to three kilos. The eggs hatch after almost a month of brooding, and after two to three months the young are able to fly. The common eider is a powerful diver who can bring up mussels and seafood from depths of 50-60 metres. It is first and foremost a coastal bird, and many along the coast used to make a nice extra income from harvesting eiderdown. It takes the down from 60-70 nests to produce one kilo of cleaned down, so it’s no surprise that duvets and pillows filled with eiderdown became so exclusive!

For most people the White Wagtail is a sure sign that spring has arrived. This is not just because it is happy and optimistic, but also because it is faithful - the same pair often return year after year. Countless stories tell of white wagtail couples who come back in the spring and «greet»f amilies in the neighbourhood. The white wagtail is equally content on the coast as high in the mountains. Its nest is often found under rocks or other places with a «roof». The eggs hatch after two weeks, and fourteen days later the young leave the nest.

The Northern Wheatear is most comfortable on the ground, where it often builds its nest in walls or on rocky scree. It is found both in the mountains and far north in the country - a few nesting pairs have even made their way as far as Svalbard. It is estimated that between one-half and one million pairs of northern wheatears have their breeding grounds in Norway. The northern wheatear winters in Africa. Southerly migration begins as early as August/September, but by March/April it is back on its rocky scree.

30 January 2016

Golden Pheasant

Taiwan (2015)
8th October, 2015. National Palace Museum
Golden Pheasant is a gamebird of the order Galliformes and the family Phasianidae. It is native to forests in mountainous areas of western China, but feral populations have been established in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland Islands, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In England they may be found in East Anglia in the dense forest landscape of the Breckland as well as Tresco on the Isles of Scilly.

The adult male is 90–105 cm in length, its tail accounting for two-thirds of the total length. It is unmistakable with its golden crest and rump and bright red body. The deep orange "cape" can be spread in display, appearing as an alternating black and orange fan that covers all of the face except its bright yellow eye with a pinpoint black pupil.

Males have a golden-yellow crest with a hint of red at the tip. The face, throat, chin, and the sides of neck are rusty tan. The wattles and orbital skin are both yellow in colour, and the ruff or cape is light orange. The upper back is green and the rest of the back and rump is golden-yellow. The tertiaries are blue whereas the scapulars are dark red. Other characteristics of the male plumage are the central tail feathers, black spotted with cinnamon, as well as the tip of the tail being a cinnamon buff. The upper tail coverts are the same colour as the central tail feathers. The male also has a scarlet breast, and scarlet and light chestnut flanks and underparts. Lower legs and feet are a dull yellow.