2010 and all that

Last thoughts on the Lapwings and other Guyana bird surcharges

First an apology and a correction to the previous blog. I had been unsure whether there were any Stanley Gibbons numbers to the Lapwing issues, particularly as there is no current catalogue to refer to. However, a closer look at the well crammed and tiny print spreadsheet provided by Steve Zirinsky revealed a misreading that indicate SG numbers do indeed exist for these issues. I am still unsure about the sequencing, but can at least now show the Scott and SG equivalent catalogue numbers together, as per Table 1 in the attached document.

But let’s move on from these birds – we have surely done them to death now? There are a handful of other surcharged bird stamps that emerged from the Rainforests of Guyana during the period 2010 to 2013. This piece is intended to sweep them all up and present them.

BIRD STAMPS OF PALAU

Where is Palau?

Palau is a group of coral and volcanic islands that form an archipelago that is located in the Pacific Ocean.  A barrier reef encircles a major part of the archipelago.  The nearest neighbours to Palau are the Philippines to the West and the island of New Guinea to the South.   The principal inhabited islands are Babelthuap (or Babeldoab), Koror, Malakal, Arakabesan, Peleliu, Belilou and Angaur. 

Palau has an estimated population of 18,000 (2019) and uses the US dollar as its currency. The Republic of Palau came into existence as a nation state on 1 October 1994.   The Constitution of Palau is based on a bi-cameral legislative body, known as “The Olbiil Era Kelulau” made up of a House of Delegates and a Senate.  The Senate has authority to provide advice to the President; and consent to Presidential appointments.  The Executive is represented by the President, Vice President, the Ministries and the Council of Chiefs, a body that represents one traditional tribal chief from each of Palau’s island state.

The geography of Palau – the barrier reef and archipelago – are nicely illustrated on this souvenir sheet issued on 14 June 2019, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Palau Conservation Society.

Endangered Birds The Souvenir Sheet features one bird on a 55c stamp: the endangered “Bekai” or Palau Megapode (Megapodius laperouse senex).   This is one of the species that the Palau Conservation Society is seeking to protect.  

Scott’s to the rescue!

More on the Guyana Northern Lapwing surcharges

In truth, this wee update really ought to be entitled, “Gilly to the Rescue,” because she actually found this material and is the fortunate owner of the Scott catalogue that has helped clarify a little further the mysterious Guyana Lapwing surcharges. But perhaps that would have sounded like the title of one of those gymslip tales by Angela Brazil and terribly fifties; not at all right, so Scott’s it has to be.

And there is no denying that Gilly has worked wonders in unearthing more information here, proving yet again what I always thought, that the philately of the America’s is better handled by Scott’s than Stanley Gibbons as additional commentary to the first Lapwing blog confirmed. Scott’s scores even for a philatelic, “Wallpaper” country like Guyana. So what can we now add to the original piece? Firstly, all the Guyanese 1995 Birds of the World singles can be given Scott numbers in addition to SG ones.

Where did these ones come from?

Some Lapwings fly out of the wallpaper

I am greatly indebted to member Ton Plug for bringing these small mysteries to my attention as I had never seen them before. And after a few hours of internet excavation, whilst better informed, I am still a little uncertain about them.  

The accompanying images show two Guyana stamps – a pair of a $6 Northern Lapwing (Vanellus Vanellus) (a and b), and then a further pair of the same stamps surcharged and overprinted $20 (c and d). But when were they issued? Which is a pretty a good question, because I am not sure.

Fig. a – Smaller $6 (square) version
Fig. b – Smaller $6 version found on cover 2015
Fig. c – Surcharged – hand-stamped version (left)
Fig. d – Surcharged printed version

You’ll probably recognise the design. Guyana produced two mini-sheets entitled “Birds of the World” for “Philakorea 94” and issued them on 16th August 1994. The sheets, each with twelve designs, depicted a variety of species but only two of which could actually be found in Guyana. Needless to say, the Northern Lapwing was not one of the native birds and it is amazing that they didn’t use the local sub-species of the Southern Lapwing (Vanellus c. cayennensis). The stamps on both sheets included the event logo and had a vertical rectangular format, each with the value of $35.

Unloved birds?

European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

The question

Round the corner from the end of the drive where I now live in Dumfries, is this rather intimidating street sign which tells us “Please Don’t Feed the Gulls”.   Where I live is a five-minute walk from the aptly named Dock Park and the River Nith, where there are other similar signs intended to discourage feeding of the Gulls.  Just up from the park, is the river promenade (Whitesands) where in the middle of the river, just down from the caul[1] is an island on which the Herring Gulls generally camp out, occasionally paddling in the river itself, usually against the tide.  Under heavy rains, when the river rises, this island disappears, in which case the Gulls are more often to be seen in aerial formation overhead.

Along Whitesands there are other variations on the sign at the end of my drive.  This got me wondering: alongside Pigeons, are Herring Gulls also our most unloved urban birds? 

The local council (Dumfries and Galloway) certainly thinks so.  Their website[2] tells me that:

“Gulls in Dumfries and Galloway.

Gulls are a nuisance in Dumfries and Galloway. We don’t have a statutory duty to take action against gulls but do have some powers to tackle the problem.”

The Council also says that because of the current Covid-19 situation, they were unable to offer the normal egg and nest removal service in 2020.   The Gulls are protected by law during the nesting season, but outside of that period, unused nests can be cleared away. 

Amongst the advice offered is to stop the Gulls from scavenging, either from food that is visible to them (people eating taking away food as they walk along the street) or from directly feeding them; or from leaving discarded burgers and chips in litter bins. 


[1] Scots language meaning weir or dam in English. You know what it is when you see it.

[2] https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/gulls


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