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28 March 2015

Fauna and Flora of Armenia

Eurasian Hoopoe (戴勝)
Armenia (2014)

23rd September, 2014. Yerevan

Hoopoe was classified in the clade Coraciiformes, which also includes kingfishers, bee-eaters, and rollers. A close relationship between the hoopoe and the woodhoopoes is also supported by the shared and unique nature of their stapes. In the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, the Hoopoe is separated from the Coraciiformes as a separate order, the Upupiformes. Some authorities place the woodhoopoes in the Upupiformes as well. Now the consenus is that both hoopoe and the wood hoopoes, along with the hornbills are placed in Bucerotiformes.

The fossil record of the hoopoes is very incomplete, with the earliest fossil coming from the Quaternary. The fossil record of their relatives is older, with fossil woodhoopoes dating back to the Miocene and those of an extinct related family, the Messelirrisoridae, dating from the Eocene.

Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia, with a few species extending south to north Africa, and one species (D. repens) in arctic North America. Common names include carnation (D. caryophyllus), pink (D. plumarius and related species) and sweet william (D. barbatus).

The species are mostly herbaceous perennials, a few are annual or biennial, and some are low subshrubs with woody basal stems. The leaves are opposite, simple, mostly linear and often strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green. The flowers have five petals, typically with a frilled or pinked margin, and are (in almost all species) pale to dark pink. One species, D. knappii, has yellow flowers with a purple centre. Some species, particularly the perennial pinks, are noted for their strong spicy fragrance.

21 March 2015

Penguins of Antarctica

Adelie Penguin (阿德利企鵝)
Ross Dependency (2014)

19th November, 2014. Christchurch

Macaroni Penguin (馬可羅尼企鵝)
Ross Dependency (2014)

19th November, 2014. Christchurch

Emperor Penguin (皇帝企鵝)
Ross Dependency (2014)

19th November, 2014. Christchurch

Penguins are the most commonly found birds in Antarctica, and the Ross Dependency 2014 stamp issue features the five unique breeds of penguin that choose to call this cold, dry continent home.

Truly flightless birds, penguins have evolved traits that make them perfect for icy conditions such as those of Antarctica. While many different colonies of penguins live in Antarctica, the majority of the world’s penguins prefer to inhabit other cooler waters in the Southern Hemisphere. A layer of fat under their feathers keeps them warm and a white belly acts as a camouflage keeping them safe from predators when swimming under ice.

The unique round stamps in this issue depict the emperor, Adelie, macaroni, gentoo and chinstrap penguins in their natural habitats, and feature an over-gloss of a compass design.