Thursday, 25 February 2016

Philately will get you Everywhere (2)

I feel it is a minor miracle that I am even typing this, as after a visit from the electrician for some quite major re-wiring of the house, my computer appeared to die two days ago.  I had made my mind up to go in for a new one such is its age and slowness (I know the feeling).   I decided after the electrician had left today just to try to re-boot anticipating that nothing would happen, and hey presto it’s alive again!  A true Phoenix from the ashes and I have decided to name my computer Lazarus.  Now I have no great faith that this blog will be up in the foreseeable future as I have both the electrician and the plumber calling tomorrow morning (the plaster came to so it was quite a get together), so it’s anyone’s guess as to what might happen.   Now for something a little different.

The more observant of readers may recall that I wrote a bit about the RSPB Henderson Island Project sometime ago and highlighted the postage stamps issued by the Pitcairn Islands which marked the project.  Of particular interest was the endangered Henderson Petrel which featured amongst other Henderson Island birds on a first day cover I had purchased in support.   I now have another first day cover featuring an endangered bird in the shape of the Philippine Eagle.  This cover was issued in Feb 2016 by Guernsey, and is one of the series of endangered species issue. 

Philippine Eagle
If nothing else these issues show the educational benefits of philately, or in plain speak, stamp collecting, although I know that the two things differ in meaning.  Peter Scott’s father wrote to his wife from his ill fated expedition to the Antarctic and said ‘make the boy interested in Natural History’.  If it had been me writing that letter I would have added ‘and stamp collecting’, as I believe it is a wonderful way to learn about so many topics.  Oh, how I wish I had kept up my boyish passing interest and taken it forward in a serious manner. 

The Philippines is not on my bucket list of places to visit, although I am vaguely aware of some of its attractions.  I didn’t know anything about the Philippine Eagle, but I do now.  The Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi was named the national bird of the Philippines in 1995 and is one of the largest and most endangered eagles in the world, with only a few hundred remaining in the wild.  I sense they don’t muck about in the justice system over in the Philippines, as I note anyone who kills one of these eagles can face heavy fines and/or up to 12 years in prison!

Whooping Crane. Issued crca 1955 when I assume numbers were very low.  By 1941 loss of habitat and hunting had reduced numbers to 21 in the wild and2 in captivity.  Conservation work since then has had some limited success.  I'd place the crane family in my top ten of bird families.
This bird of prey was collected on the island of Samar in 1896 by British naturalist and explorer John Whitehead and the specific name of jefferyi honours Whitehead’s father Jeffery. Pithecophaga means monkey-eating.  This bird’s diet includes bats, flying lemurs, civets, flying squirrels, macaques, birds including other birds of prey, snakes and lizards.  It requires 25-50 miles of rain forest to survive and as ever there are major concerns due to loss of habitat.  Deforestation due in the main to logging has pushed the bird towards extinction.  The Philippine Eagle Conservation Programme is in place to help this species with educational campaigns, monitoring of nests and establishment of breeding programmes.

Issued by Japan 1955.  Mandarin Duck.
 As a youngster I had passed down to me by my elder brother a stamp album, The Capital Stamp Album with Maps.  I believe it was issued in the 1950s and it holds stamps of that vintage and both earlier and later ones.  The political geography of the world has changed greatly since then, so if nothing else it is interesting to look at the maps and page titles.  The postage stamps are probably of no great value, but as we had a great-aunt who was a very keen collector and passed on a few stamps, I may need to check this out!  As a youngster I don’t really remember taking much interest in the postage stamps related to natural history, but I’ve been having a good look at them this week and include a few here.

Fischreiher.  German for Heron. 

I'll need to check which species of Kingfisher.

White-rumped Sharma

 I know I have a couple of followers interested in flight and space in general. Rupert Murdoch will tell you it is good to know your readership, and whilst mine is strictly limited, I prefer quality to quantity.  I’ve included a few images as they may be of interest too.

Yuri Gagarin.  The first man in space and I was there, at least I was in front of our family 12ins black and white screen as he was greeted by Khrushchev on his return!  1961.

USSR 1961 issue

Just so the USA doesn't feel left out of the space race. 

You may remember that I do steam engines too, so I may qualify for the term nerd, but there again I simply don't care.


  1. Those stamps are really impressive! I'd be interested in anything with a Kingfisher on, lol.

  2. Your mandarin duck is a Japanese definitive stamp.

    1. Thanks Ian. I'll correct that error. Been on the wrong page since the 1950s.