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25 March 2017

Birds of Georgia

1,0L : Little Bustard (小鴇) ; 0,6L : Caucasian Black Grouse (高加索黑琴雞)
0,4L : Grey Partridge (灰山鶉)
Gambia (2011)

29th July, 2016. Akhaltsikhe

Georgia is located at the edge of Asia and Europe. Georgia is a country of exceptional beauty: diverse in nature, with rich and ancient history. The country is mostly complex and mountainous. The highest peak is 5201m (peak Shkhara) above sea level. Due to Georgia's specific geographic location, on a relatively small territory (69,700 square km.) there are extremely diverse ecosystems from Alpine meadows to semi-deserts, wetlands, costal landscape, numerous lakes and rivers, caves, magnificent mountain-chains and peaks covered with eternal snow.

In Georgia there are several spectacular birdwatching locations, with very different characteristics. Each of them is interesting in terms of species composition. On a relatively small territory there is a multitude of diverse ecosystems. This is very favorable for bird watching, as in a short period of time and in area very close to each other it is possible to see birds from totally different habitats.

Birders tend to target the 'big five' species: Caucasian Snowcock, Caucasian Black Grouse, Great Rosefinch, Güldenstädt’s Redstart and Caucasian Chiffchaff but other regional specialties including: Twite (interior Asian form - a potential split), Red-fronted Serin, Wallcreeper, Citrine Wagtail, White-winged Snowfinch, Red-billed and Alpine Choughs, Chukar, Horned Lark, Water Pipit, Greenish Warbler, Barred Warbler, Alpine Accentor, Common Rosefinch and dozens of other species.

18 March 2017

The New Zwin

Common Shelduck (翹鼻麻鴨) ; Common Tern (普通燕鷗) ; Barn Swallow (家燕)
Pied Avocet (反嘴鷸) ; Eurasian Spoonbill (白琵鷺)
Belgium (2016)
16th June, 2016. Roesela

The new Zwin is the international migratory bird airport. It is a unique and varied top attraction where you experience nature to the full. The new Zwin has something in store for everyone.

The Zwin Nature Park is an interactive nature experience park for the entire family. It is a place where you can discover the special Zwin nature in an attractive and stimulating manner.

Apart from the Zwin Nature Park, the Zwin is accessible free of charge: the Zwin Bistro, the Zwin Shop, the Zwin Region Information Centre and no less than 220ha of Zwin dunes and polders which guide you to the Zwin Nature Park on foot or by bike from Knokke Het Zoute.

11 March 2017

Birds of Cameroon

Top : Mount Kupe Bushshrike (庫山叢伯勞) ; Martial Eagle (猛雕) ; Purple Heron (紫鷺)
Bottom : European Robin (知更鳥) ; Black-casqued Hornbill (黑盔犀鳥)
Cameroun (1983, 1985, 1991)
12th July, 2016. Yaounde

Cameroon offers some of the best and most exciting birding in West and Central Africa. Cameroon boasts of more than 900 species of birds and a lot of them being endemic and near endemic. Cameroon bird habitats in Cameroon are mountain forests, savanna plateaus in the Mid North, Sahel in the Extreme North, the numerous forests and lakes.

In the far north, large concentrations of waterbirds such as White-faced Whistling Duck and Long-tailed Cormorant can be found along with a great variety of raptors. Further south are the transition zones of the Adamawa plateau in the Mbam Djerem National Park and the lowland evergreen forests. In the western part of the country is the Cameroon Mountain Arc with the Afro-tropical mountain vegetation type. This is where the endemic species such as Mount Cameroon Francolin, Mount Kupé Bush-Shrike and Bannerman’s Turaco can be found. There are also several freshwater systems such as River Sanaga and Nyong and a few lakes e.g. Lake Magba and Lake Maga where waterbirds such as cormorants, darters, storks and herons can be seen. The south-west of the country has a 350 km coastline with a marine ecosystem that provides a roosting ground for a host of migratory species.

4 March 2017

Great Frigatebird

Great Frigatebird (小軍艦鳥)
Nauru (2008)

21st April, 2016. Nauru

Great Frigatebird is a large seabird in the frigatebird family. Major nesting populations are found in the Pacific (including the Galapagos Islands) and Indian Oceans, as well as a population in the South Atlantic.

It is a lightly built, large seabird up to 105cm long with predominantly black plumage. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism; the female is larger than the adult male and has a white throat and breast, and the male's scapular feathers have a purple-green sheen. In the breeding season, the male is able to distend its striking red gular sac. The species feeds on fish taken in flight from the ocean's surface (mostly flying fish), and indulges in kleptoparasitism less frequently than other frigatebirds. They feed in pelagic waters within 80km of their breeding colony or roosting areas.

25 February 2017

200th anniversary of Audubon

150f : Marabou Stork (禿鸛) ; 70f : Saddle-billed Stork (鞍嘴鸛)
200f : Secretarybird (蛇鷲) ; 110f : Common Ostrich (鴕鳥)
Chad (1985)

15th July, 2016. N'Djamena

John James Audubon
(born Jean Rabin; April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. Audubon identified 25 new species.

Audubon developed his own methods for drawing birds. First, he killed them using fine shot. He then used wires to prop them into a natural position, unlike the common method of many ornithologists, who prepared and stuffed the specimens into a rigid pose. When working on a major specimen like an eagle, he would spend up to four 15-hour days, preparing, studying, and drawing it. His paintings of birds are set true-to-life in their natural habitat. He often portrayed them as if caught in motion, especially feeding or hunting. This was in stark contrast to the stiff representations of birds by his contemporaries, such as Alexander Wilson. Audubon based his paintings on his extensive field observations.

He worked primarily with watercolor early on. He added coloured chalk or pastel to add softness to feathers, especially those of owls and herons. He employed multiple layers of watercolouring, and sometimes used gouache. All species were drawn life size which accounts for the contorted poses of the larger birds as Audubon strove to fit them within the page size. Smaller species were usually placed on branches with berries, fruit, and flowers. He used several birds in a drawing to present all views of anatomy and wings. Larger birds were often placed in their ground habitat or perching on stumps. At times, as with woodpeckers, he combined several species on one page to offer contrasting features. He frequently depicted the birds' nests and eggs, and occasionally natural predators, such as snakes. He usually illustrated male and female variations, and sometimes juveniles. In later drawings, Audubon used assistants to render the habitat for him. In addition to faithful renderings of anatomy, Audubon also employed carefully constructed composition, drama, and slightly exaggerated poses to achieve artistic as well as scientific effects.

18 February 2017

Definitive issue 2015 of St Helena

50p : Red-billed Tropicbird (紅嘴熱帶鳥) ; 40p : Wilson's Storm Petrel (黃蹼洋海燕)
60p : Masked Booby (藍臉鰹鳥) ; 30p : Java Sparrow (爪哇禾雀)
St Helena (2015)

23rd July, 2016. Jamestown

The avifauna of Saint Helena Island include a total of 68 species. Only one endemic species survives today, the Saint Helena plover. Several more endemics are extinct and known only from subfossil remains: the Saint Helena petrel, Olson's petrel, Saint Helena shearwater, Saint Helena crake, Saint Helena swamphen, Saint Helena dove, Saint Helena cuckoo and Saint Helena hoopoe. At least five non-endemics have been extirpated from Saint Helena but still occur elsewhere. Nine species have been introduced by humans and formed established breeding populations while many more species were introduced in the past but failed to become established. Of these, 43 species are rare or accidental visitors.

20p : Brown Booby (白腹鰹鳥) ; 5p : White Tern (白玄鷗)
10p : Zebra Dove (斑姬地鳩) ; 15p : Chukar Partridge (石雞)
St Helena (2015)

19th July, 2016. Sandy Bay

11 February 2017

National bird of Mongolia

Saker Falcon (獵鷹)
Mongolia (2013)

11th July, 2016. Ulaanbaatar

Saker Falcon is a large hierofalcon, larger than the lanner falcon and almost as large as gyrfalcon at 47–55cm length with a wingspan of 105–129cm. Its broad blunt wings give it a shadow similar to Gyrfalcon, but its plumage is more similar to a lanner falcon's.

Saker Falcons have brown upperbellies and contrasting grey flight feathers. The head and underparts are paler brown, with streaking from the breast down. Males (called sakrets in falconry) and females are similar, as are young birds, although these tend to be a duller brown. The call is a sharp kiy-ee.

Adults can be distinguished from the similar lanner falcon since the lanner is blue-grey above with a reddish back to the head. However, juveniles of the two species can be very similar although the saker falcon always has a uniformly buff top of the head with dark streaks, and a less clear pattern on the sides of the head.

A further complication is that some Asian birds have grey barred upperparts; these must be separated from lanner on size, structure, and a weaker moustache stripe. Saker falcons at the northeast edge of the range in the Altai Mountains are slightly larger, and darker and more heavily spotted on the underparts than other populations. These, known as the Altai falcon, have been treated in the past either as a distinct species "Falco altaicus" or as a hybrid between saker falcon and gyrfalcon, but modern opinion is to tentatively treat it as a form of saker falcon, until comprehensive studies of its population genetics and ecology are available.

This species belongs to the close-knit hierofalcon complex. In this group, there is ample evidence for rampant hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting which confounds analyses of DNA sequence data to a massive extent; molecular studies with small sample sizes can simply not be expected to yield reliable conclusions in the entire hierofalcon group. The radiation of the entire living diversity of hierofalcons seems to have taken place in the Eemian interglacial at the start of the Late Pleistocene, a mere 130,000–115,000 years ago; the saker falcon represents a lineage that expanded out of northeastern Africa into the interior of southeastern Europe and Asia, by way of the eastern Mediterranean region.

4 February 2017

Wildes Deutschland

Postmark : Golden Eagle (金鵰)
Germany (2016)

26th June, 2016. Zürpich

Postmark : Nightingale (夜鶯)
Germany (2016)

23rd June, 2016. Berlin

Phytogeographically, Germany is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. The territory of Germany can be subdivided into two ecoregions: European-Mediterranean montane mixed forests and Northeast-Atlantic shelf marine.[37] The majority of Germany is covered by either arable land (33%) or forestry and woodland (31%). Only 15% is covered by permanent pastures. Plants and animals are those generally common to middle Europe. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one-third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. There are many species of ferns, flowers, fungi, and mosses. Fish abound in the rivers and the North Sea. Wild animals include deer, wild boar, mouflon, fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of beaver. Various migratory birds cross Germany in the spring and autumn.

28 January 2017

Nature conservation in Japan

From left to right :
Bonin Honeyeater (笠原吸蜜鳥) ; Ryukyu Robin (琉球歌鴝)
Short-tailed Albatross (短尾信天翁) ; Red-crowned Crane (丹頂鶴)
Japan (1975, 1976)

4th May, 2011. Tōro, Shibecha

Japanese archipelago stretches from the subtropical to subarctic zones running parallel to the eastern rim of the Eurasian Continent consists of four main islands and more than 3,900 smaller islands whose area cover almost 378 thousand square kilometers.

Rapid economic development which started in the 1960's has changed the social and economical structure and life style in Japan, particularly in Tokyo and other big cities. Huge industrial complexes have been developed and rapidly urbanized suburban areas.

Still, forest areas cover 67 percent of Japan's total land area and agricultural lands 14 percent. Because of its mountainous topographical nature, a large part of Japan is still decorated with beautiful primitive and secondary forests. Brown bears, black bears, and Japanese deer trot in forests, and golden eagles, cranes and herons glide in blue sky.

21 January 2017

Malachite Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher (冠翠鳥)
Namibia (2002)
5th June, 2016. Windhoek Central

Mlachite Kingfisher is a river kingfisher which is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara. It is largely resident except for seasonal climate-related movements.

This is a small kingfisher, 13cm in length. The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks, and underparts are rufous and white patches are on the throat and rear neck sides. The bill is black in young birds and reddish-orange in adults; the legs are bright red. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

This species is common to reeds and aquatic vegetation near slow-moving water or ponds. The flight of the malachite kingfisher is rapid, with the short, rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water.

The bird has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These are usually low over the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive.

Large food items are beaten on a bough or rail; small fish and insects are promptly swallowed. A fish is usually lifted and carried by its middle, but its position is changed, sometimes by tossing it into the air, before it is swallowed head downwards. Fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans are eaten.

The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank, usually over water. Both birds excavate. Most burrows incline upward before the nesting chamber is reached.

Three or four clutches of three to six round, white eggs are placed on a litter of fish bones and disgorged pellets.

The call of this kingfisher is then a short shrill seek. The breeding song is a chuckling li-cha-cha-chui-chui.
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