All posts by Steven Ardron

Collecting interests: completely random and utterly disorganised. My interests are stimulated more by acquiring knowledge about the birds that are featured on the stamps that attract my interest. I also like to learn about the artists that have designed the stamps. Basically, I follow what I like when I see when I see it, rather than follow a pre-determined or a defined collecting path. Not very helpful, I know. Amongst this chaos are stamps from Belgium, French Overseas Territories, British Overseas Territories, Australia and its Dependencies and Bosnia Herzegovina.


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.  

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.


New Caledonia – 2020 Christmas Stamp

Masked Booby

Issued 4th November 2020

This new permanent value international postage stamp was designed by Thierry Mordant, an artist who has created many illustrations and various postage stamps for New Caledonia, France and the Principality of Monaco. On this new stamp, two masked boobies (Sula dactylatra) wearing Christmas beanie hats are engaged in the vital task of carrying traditional seasonal gifts from the shores of New Caledonia.

 These large seabirds are both striking and graceful, with their white and black plumage, yellow beaks and black masks around beak and eyes. They are quite rare within the area covered by New Caledonia’s lagoon. Masked boobies prefer to nest on remote islands and islets (Carey, Chesterfield, Entrecasteaux, Matthew and Hunter), and are expert freefalling plunge divers. They can plunge dive into deep water from a height of over 30 metres to pick off prey from schools of fish or catch large squids!

Incongruous issues

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)

When I recently wrote an article on “Incongruous issues” I included amongst these this splendid souvenir-sheet based stamp of the Crowned Crane, designed and printed by the Inter-Government Philatelic Corporation (IGPC) for Liberia; and valued at $280.   

The reason I considered that this issue was odd, centres upon the fact that the Grey Crowned Crane is not a native of Liberia, or West Africa, but is found more in Central and Southern parts of the African continent.  Of course, the issue of this stamp well justified by the endangered status of this bird across Africa where it is present; as well as being part of Liberia’s “Birds of the World” series.

Recent Bird Stamps from Bosnia Herzegovina (BH Pošta)

Prosecuting Peacocks?

One of the consequences of the Coronavirus situation is that I am spending more time at home than I might otherwise do, primarily to “keep safe”.  Naturally, this is proving difficult to do, because I am eager to explore the county of Dumfries and Galloway, which is now my new home. 

I was sifting through my new bird stamps from Bosnia Herzegovina that had just arrived, when on the radio, I hear a story about five peacocks that have roamed the village of Henfield (West Sussex). The police had allegedly threatened these peacocks with death, following complaints from some villagers about the impact of the peacocks on gardens and property.  A rival group have got together to save the birds from extinction and to provide a more permanent home, to avoid them roaming the streets and gardens of the village. Ordinarily I would not have been at home to hear such a story.  Coincidentally, one of the stamps that I had in front of me when the radio blared out this story was the 27 March 2020 BH Pošta issue of a peacock (Pavo cristatus) in a miniature sheet format, as below: