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28 March 2015

Fauna and Flora of Armenia

330(d) : Eurasian Hoopoe (戴勝) ; 230(d) : Dianthus (石竹)
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.

Eurasian Hoopoe (戴勝)
Armenia (2014)

23rd September, 2014. Yerevan

21 March 2015

Penguins of Antarctica

L : Gentoo Penguin (巴布亞企鵝) ; R : Chinstrap Penguin (南極企鵝)
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.

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

14 March 2015

Eaton's Pintail

Eaton's Pintail (凱島針尾鴨)
French Australia and Antarctica Territories (2013)

9th September, 2014. Alfred-Faure, Crozet

Eaton's Pintail is 40-45 cm. Small, short-necked pintail. Resembles female Northern Pintail A. acuta, but darker overall tone, more reddish-brown, and scalloping on flanks smaller and less obvious. Male has elongated central tail feathers and green speculum bordered with white. Minority of males (1%) assume brighter breeding plumage with trace of chocolate-brown on head and whitish stripe up side of neck. Female has brown speculum bordered with white. Subspecies similar but drygalskii slightly paler, more buff on breast, and some birds show fine vermiculations on lower hindneck and flanks.

It is projected that this species could undergo a rapid decline in the near future owing to predation by feral cats, and it therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

7 March 2015

Pre-paid postcard of South Korea

Bullfinch (紅腹灰雀)
Stamps : Yellow-billed Grosbeak (黑尾蠟嘴雀) ; Red-crowned Crane (丹頂鶴)
South Korea (2011)

28th November, 2014. Gwanghwamun

The bullfinch is a bulky bull-headed bird. The upper parts are grey; the flight feathers and short thick bill are black; as are the cap and face in adults (they are greyish-brown in juveniles), and the white rump and wing bars are striking in flight. The adult male has red underparts, but females and young birds have grey-buff underparts. The song of this unobtrusive bird contains fluted whistles.

This bird breeds across Europe and temperate Asia. It is mainly resident, but many northern birds migrate further south in the winter. Mixed woodland with some conifers is favoured for breeding, including parkland and gardens.

This species does not form large flocks outside the breeding season, and is usually seen as a pair or family group.
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