Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Birds of Papua New Guinea

The Weird and the Wonderful

Starting a thematic, or topical, collection is, for me at least, an impulsive thing. A few years ago, I only collected KGV-era British Empire. I was adamant that I wasn't going to allow any thematic collections to take up space on my shelf.

I now have at least half a dozen thematic collections that I go back to when my main collection gets too heavy or, as happens frequently, too expensive! The thematic collections all started as a result of my non-philatelic pursuits. As I'm also a very unskilled birdwatcher, logic dictated that I start a thematic collection of birds.

My album is now bulging. Who knew there were so many issues?

However, it's possible to start a thematic collection from one country, as these issues from Papua New Guinea illustrate

This is the Muruk, or double-wattled or Southern Cassowary (SG271 issued 1974). This huge bird can stand 2 metres tall. This may be the only way to see one soon. Although they range from PNG to northern Australia, it's estimated that there are less than 2,500 remaining

The best-known birds of PNG are, perhaps, the birds of paradise. The postal authorities of PNG have spoiled us with choice for glorious images of wonderful birds.

Incredibly, this stamp (SG68 issued 1965) shows a stunning bird called the Lesser Bird of Paradise! 

Whilst the description of the Lesser Bird of Paradise hardly does it justice, the Ribbon-Tailed Bird of Paradise (SG239 issued1973) seems very aptly named

German ornithologist Adolf Meyer named the King of Saxony Bird of Paradise (SG173 issued 1970) in honour of Albert of Saxony. Perhaps Albert enjoyed large headgear?

In 1973, Albert of Saxony's wife's bird was also featured on a stamp (SG237). Queen Carola's Parotia was also named by Meyer in 1894. What a colourful pair Albert and Carola would make!

Both Albert and Carola were featured again in the series issued from 1991 to 1993 that also gave us the magnificent sheen of the Trumpet Bird (SG649)

Saving the best till last, the Raggiana Bird of Paradise (SG452 issued 1984) is the national bird of Papua New Guinea. At 34cms, or 13 inches, this must be a sight to behold in the jungle

There are two websites I refer to for my bird stamps.

Theme Birds on Stamps by Kjell Scharning 

both definitely worth bookmarking if this theme appeals to you.

Now, off you go. Start birdwatching!

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