All posts by Mel West

I only collect identifiable species on stamps and prefer them to be indigenous to the issuing country. Rather than just tick off from lists, I am inclined to seek out those issues that have a degree of variation and complexity, or are unusual or well designed. I also collect whole sets , irrespective of whether the set is entirely ornithological. I am rarely excited by new issues, but instead particularly interested in the older stamps of, for example, Australia, Guatemala and New Caledonia, but alongside the more recent and excellently illustrated issues of Belgium, the Philippines, Eire and a number of other countries. I also very much like collecting items of postal stationery and covers, especially older items, and whenever possible will seek out uncommon postmarks, cancellation marks and cachets.

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.

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.

A perforation difference to watch out for

South African series that can be easily confused

Here is a well-known series that might just catch you out.

The South African 2000 Flora & Fauna set, issued in November of that year is large – twenty seven issues, but only five of which are birds. The bulk of the stamps are fish and flowers. To add to the mix, many of the flowers were also repeated as self-adhesive stamps with standardised values, but smaller in size (20x25mm). There were ten for this special rate format, so a complete set is 37 stamps.

The whole set, including fish and flowers are pretty colourful, but I am tempted to say, almost garish. If you find one of the flowers or fishes on cover, you’ll know what I mean. The bird element seems relatively sober in design and takes up most of the higher values.

New Zealand Bird of the Year – Part 3

The first five – Kiwis, Kakapos and all that

Part 3: The winners 2005-2009

Still rolling backwards, we finally reach the initial five years of New Zealand’s Bird of the Year poll. These were the birds chosen from its introduction in 2005 up to 2009.

In the fifth year of the poll – 2009 – a Kiwi actually got a look in as a poll winner, although it was uncharitably dubbed by some as the, “flightless national bore.” What is less clear is which Kiwi won. Whilst this flightless bird is unique to New Zealand, there are actually five different species. The largest is the Roroa or Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx hasstii), which has vulnerable status and is found in areas of the South Island; the Little Spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii), the smallest species of all, weighing up to 1.9 kg and restricted to a few small offshore islands and protected mainland reserves; the Rowi or Okarito kiwi (Apteryx rowi) a recent addition that is scarce and found only in part of the Okarito forest on the West Coast of South Island; the Tokoeka or Southern Brown (Apteryx australis), also found only on South Island; and finally, the North Island Brown (Apteryx mantelli) is common across much of North Island. Oh, this one hold the world record for laying the largest eggs relative to its body size. Sounds painful.