Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Third Jersey Song Birds set to be issued in August

Jersey Birdlife III - Songbirds

The third set of postage stamps in the Jersey Birdlife series painted by
Jersey wildlife artist, Nick Parlett, celebrates some of the birds which bring us one of nature’s most wonderful sounds, birdsong. Throughout the Birdlife postage stamp series, Jersey Post has turned to
Jersey’s most trusted ‘birdman’, Mike Stentiford MBE, who has suggested which birds are suitable for each category and, later, penned the words below, on the First Day Cover and in the Presentation Packs accompanying each stamp issue. Here, Mike describes the ‘Songbirds’ chosen to appear on the stamps that will be released on August 4, 2009. This includes a Souvenir Miniature Sheet and Souvenir Sheetlet with respective First Day Cover envelopes and Presentation Packs in addition to the more usual products.

“As well as being the inspiration for some of the world’s greatest music and poetry, the sound of birdsong provides us with immeasurable pleasure during early springtime. Many of the delightful songs we hear in town and country during April and May are delivered by the male as a means of finding a mate and defending a territory.

While some songs appear quite complex, others are plain and simple contact calls. Pure birdsong is at its strongest in the Springtime when listening to the dawn chorus has become something of an annual and popular pastime. As in many other parts of the British Isles, Jersey too, enjoys its fair share of the finest songsters.

Known also as the ‘Hedge Sparrow the Dunnock’s dullness in color belies a song that is strong, pure and very attractive. Frequently described as a flurry of cheerful warbling, it is a song that is quite similar to that of the Wren although many consider it even more musical. The sound of the Dunnock is frequently heard throughout the year although it gathers in strength during late January when pairing occurs.

Once a common resident in gardens and woodlands, the Song Thrush has sadly declined somewhat over the past decade or so. Despite the drop in numbers, the loud and repetitive musical notes of a Song Thrush continue to make a strong contribution to the dawn chorus. Selecting a high spot from which to sing, the bird is often seen at the top of trees or on television aerials where each of its song phrases are repeated two or three times.

It was once said that if ever there was a ‘songbird choir’ the Wren would probably be excluded as its song is so loud that it would drown out all the other songsters. It is easy to believe this story when listening to a cock Wren in full voice with its series of loud warbles, rattles and trills. The Wren is almost Europe’s tiniest bird (the Goldcrest is even smaller) and is found in every kind of habitat from gardens to moorland and from seashore to woodland.

Because of our milder Winters, some Blackcaps - small members of the warbler family - have now taken up residency in Jersey although others still migrate south to
Africa during late Autumn. Biackcaps are extremely strong songsters and are sometimes referred to as ‘the poor man’s nightingale’. The beautifully rich song is always heard from the birds’ favored habitats - woodlands, thickets and tall hedges.

Because of this birds desire to sing from the top of a tree during wet and windy weather the Mistle Thrush has been nicknames the ‘stormcock’. It is larger than the Song Thrush and its breast has much bolder flecks and spots. So named because of its liking for mistletoe berries, the Mistle Thrush is a resident species that becomes highly territorial during the breeding season. The song is very similar to that of the Blackbird but lacks the mellow richness.Probably everyone’s favorite garden bird, the Robin is generally accepted as something of a national symbol. The song of the Robin is ever changing from an intense sweetness in Springtime to an almost melancholy whisper during the Autumn and Winter Unlike many other familiar songbirds, the Robin will continue its varied song throughout the entire year; stopping only briefly during its molt in August.”