- Endemic Plants
The Falkland Islands - Celebrating the Endemic Flora of the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are a remote archipelago situated in the South Atlantic, some 500 km from mainland South America. The Islands experience a cool temperate oceanic climate with a mean for January and July of c. 9°C and 2°C, respectively. With ground frost a possibility throughout the year, all seasons can be experienced in a day. Contrary to popular belief rainfall is low in the Islands with a mean annual precipitation of around 585 mm. The highest point on the Islands is Mt. Usborne on East Falkland, which stands at 705 m above sea level. Soils are generally characterised by a thin, peaty surface layer, usually no deeper than 40 cm, above poorly drained, silty-clay subsoil. Mineral soils are less common but do occur where underlying rocks are exposed, such as on mountain summits and along the coast. The main vegetation types supported are acid grasslands and dwarf shrub heathland. 181 plant taxa (including one hybrid) are native to the Falkland Islands with 14 of these being found nowhere else in the world – it is these endemic plants that we seek to celebrate through this unique stamp collection.
Now considered rare, Falkland rock-cress Phlebolobium maclovianum was reported as ‘abundant on the sea coast’ by botanist Joseph Hooker when he visited the Islands in the 1800s. Hooker’s account provides evidence of a significant population reduction and there is observational evidence that grazing pressure has played a part in the decline of this crucifer as the largest known populations are found in ungrazed locations.
The charismatic Falkland Islands lady’s slipper Calceolaria fothergillii is so called because of the delicate shoe-like form of its flower’s enlarged lower lip. The intricate shape and patterning of the striking red and yellow flowers make it one of the most stunning to be seen in the Islands. This species can most frequently be found growing on coastal slopes within low-growing heathland. The white and fleshy bar folded against the outside of the lower flower lip is known to act as an edible reward to entice bird pollinators in Calceolaria fothergillii’s closest relative over in Patagonia. In the Falklands there is no record of removal of this appendage so intriguing questions remain over what pollinates C. fothergillii and whether the fleshy bar still plays a role in the process.
False-plantain Nastanthus falklandicus is one of the most range-restricted endemics found in the Falkland Islands, occurring only along the southwest coast of West Falkland and two nearby small Islands. It can be found growing in exposed, coastal sites on well-drained soils and has long taproots that make it ideally suited to such erosion-prone locations. In flower there is no mistaking N. falklandicus, as it bears a spectacular hemispherical cluster of tightly packed white flowers. It is not yet understood why this species is so limited in its distribution – just one of the many questions surrounding its ecology.
The large 3-lobed silvery leaves of the stunning silvery buttercup Hamadryas argentea make it difficult to confuse with any other plants currently growing in the wild in the Falklands. H. argentea has separate male and female plants and it has recently been noted that individual populations are often either one gender or the other. This is a worrying finding as H. argentea is classified as Near Threatened largely on the basis of its population size and this suggests that what we currently think of as ‘populations’ may just be one or two individuals that have spread vegetatively. The actual number of genetically distinct individuals across the Falklands may be drastically less than previously estimated.
Nowadays snakeplant Nassauvia serpens is found almost exclusively in stone runs and it was therefore previously thought that it had a strict requirement for this habitat. Surveys have since discovered that in the absence of grazing pressure, N. serpens can thrive in a range of other habitats close to running water or run-off.
Falkland Nassauvia Nassauvia falklandica is the most recently described vascular plant species endemic to the Falkland Islands. Known only from upland sites in two hill ranges on West Falkland, its habit makes it look similar to a dwarf version of N. serpens; its flowerheads are similarly grouped into a globular clusters at the end of stems, however it reaches only about six centimetres in height. A key feature which distinguishes this species from all other Nassauvia species is the position of its breathing holes (known as ‘stomata’) to sunken hair-filled surfaces on the undersides of otherwise hairless leaves. The hairs create a still layer of air directly above the stomata, most likely helping to reduce water loss in the windy, exposed upland sites where N. falklandica grows.
Text courtesy of Dr Rebecca Upson, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
Designer Leigh-Anne Wolfaardt
Printer BDT International Security Printing
Perforation 14 per 2cms
Stamp size 30.56 x 38mm
Sheetlet size 170 x 140mm (6 x 66p)
Sheet Layout 20 (2 x 10)
Release date 21 November, 2016
Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
For further information, please contact either Charles Pobjoy
Pobjoy Mint Ltd, Tel: +44 (0) 1737 818181, Fax: +44 (0) 1737 818199
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- Penguins, Predators & Prey
Falkland Islands - Magellanic Penguins, Predators and Prey
Penguins, Predators and Prey is a series of stamp issues depicting each of the familiar Falkland penguins, together with some of their respective predators and prey. This issue features the Magellanic Penguin.
The Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus is one of the five species which breed in the Falkland Islands. They are medium-sized penguins which grow to 70cm tall and weigh about 4 kilos. The males are slightly larger than the females. They can live up to 25 years in the wild.
Magellanic Penguins are the most numerous of the Spheniscus penguins, a genus which includes the African, the Humboldt and the Galapagos species. They breed along the coasts of Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. The world population is estimated to be approaching 2 million pairs with around 5% breeding in the Falklands. During the winter they are pelagic and can be seen as far north as Rio de Janiero.
Magellanic Penguins were first encountered by Europeans about 600 miles north of the Falklands during Ferdinand Magellan’s ill-fated voyage of circumnavigation in 1520. Magellan referred to them as “Black Geese” and noted, with culinary precision, that they had to be skinned rather than plucked. In 1578, Sir Francis Drake’s crew clubbed 3000 for provisions in one day on Penguin Island, off the coast of Patagonia. In 1592, after discovering the Falklands, John Davis sailed the Desire to the same island. They filled the ship’s stores with 14000 salted down but insufficiently dried penguins reckoning that 4 men would eat 5 birds per day during the voyage home. As the ship became becalmed under the tropical sun, and with only stagnant water to drink and no fresh greens, the penguins took their revenge. The carcasses went rotten. Swarming maggots began to eat everything including the ships timbers and even the men themselves. Only 16 of the original crew of 76 survived to tell the tale as the vessel reached Berehaven in Bantry Bay. They were carried ashore by townsfolk as the tiny harbour filled with the stench of putrefying penguins.
In the Falklands, this species is affectionately known as the “Jackass” penguin because its loud and oft repeated spring song is reminiscent of the hee-hawing of a donkey.
The cover illustration shows a Magellanic penguin underwater. All penguins are flightless seabirds and hunt for food under the waves. Their bodies are heavy and muscular and their wing bones are fused together as wings take on the role of paddles. Their tails act as rudders to steer them through the water.
30p Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus at the entrance to its breeding burrow
In the Falklands, Magellanic Penguins breed in individual underground burrows up to 5 metres long which they dig in the peaty soil. They are particularly fond of tussac islands but are also common in other areas where tussac is absent. They are colonial nesters and often form quite large though loose assemblages. “Jackasses” are the only Falkland species to nest in burrows. This has the obvious advantages of protecting the eggs and young from aerial predators but there is a risk from flooding during rainstorms. Both birds and burrows can become infested with “Jackass” fleas. Magellanic penguins return from their winter pelagic wanderings in September. Males appear first to reclaim and clean out their burrows. Females are able to recognize their mates through their call alone and often mate with the same partner each year. Two eggs are laid in mid to late October. Incubation lasts about 40 days after which the chicks are fed and cared for by their parents for about a month. Individual birds can forage up to 500 km from the nest site although, during the chick rearing stage, the parents generally remain within 30 km. Following the breeding season the penguins go to sea to fatten up in preparation for the annual moult for which they gather silently along favoured beaches in February. By mid-April they have returned to the ocean for the austral winter.
75p Falkland Sprat Sprattus fuegensis
Magellanic penguins are opportunistic feeders, taking roughly equal proportions of fish, squid and crustaceans. During chick-rearing, foraging trips take place on a daily basis during daylight hours. Birds generally hunt at depths of less than 50m, but may dive up to 100m. One of the more common prey species is the Falkland Sprat or Fuegian Sardine Sprattus fuegensis. This a small fish about 150mm in length which breeds in spring and early summer in the coastal shelf waters around the Falkland Islands and feeds on copepods, euphausiids, mysids, pelagic amphipods, chaetognaths, eggs and fish larvae. Large numbers appear close inshore during the summer making them ideal prey for penguins. The maximum recorded age is five years. The Falkland Sprat also lives along the Patagonian coast between 43° 30'N and 55° S.
£1 Falkland Skua Catharacta antarctica
Magellanic penguins encounter a number of predators at sea such as sea lions, leopard seals and orcas. They also face predation of chicks and eggs by avian predators such as caracaras, gulls and skuas although, by nesting in burrows, such predation is greatly reduced. The Falkland Skua is amongst the fastest and most skilled of all the flying birds. Add to that power and strength, high intelligence and longevity and the penguins have a formidable foe. Skuas are quick to spot any weak or infirm “Jackasses” and often attack them in mobs. Being without the claws and hooked beaks of hawks, skuas have to rely on each other to take hold of different parts of their prey in order to tear it apart. Falkland Skuas are entirely pelagic during the southern winter and come ashore in the Falklands only between October and April. The illustration shows part of their distinctive “courtship walk”. They nest in loose colonies, often close to their prey which, in addition to Magellanic Penguins, also includes other penguins and prions. They also specialize in harrying and forcing shags to re-gorge their food in flight over the ocean.
£1.20 Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus performing “ecstatic" display
Breeding Magellanic Penguins are often seen stretching skyward and calling in what is termed the “ecstatic” display. Males will perform this in the spring to attract a mate. Once paired up, a male and female will often display simultaneously to strengthen the bond between them. Each bird sings loudly while they perform. These rituals convey territorial, sexual and identification information both to each other and to other members of the colony. They are often enacted as a pair bonding exercise after a skirmish with a predator or a rival. Such displays continue throughout the breeding season and in particular in the evening when the adults return to the nesting burrow from the sea. To experience a calm summer evening close to a “Jackass” colony, with the air full of penguin song, is amongst the most magical of Falkland experiences.
Liner written by Tony Chater.
Artist: Tony Chater
Printer: BDT International Security Printing
Perforation: 14 per 2cms
Stamp size: 30.56 x 38mm
Sheet Layout: 50 (2 x 25)
Release date: 21 August, 2015
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
Falkland Islands Wrecks Part 1
The extraordinary voyages of 16th century seafarers transformed history as newly-developed deep water sailing ships, equipped with the mariner’s compass, enabled Europeans to venture beyond the horizon and scour the oceans for new land, dreams and gold. During one such voyage in 1592, to the Magellan Straits, the little recognized but most accomplished navigator, John Davis, in his ship, Desire, was storm-blown under bare poles amongst these apparently unknown and unpeopled islands. But it is likely that the archipelago had been quietly known about for years by the major sea powers, as an ill-defined cluster of blobs appear, vaguely positioned near the eastern end of the Magellan Strait, on maps from 1507 onwards. Amerigo Vespucci may well have seen them from the deck of a Portuguese ship as early as 1502.
The 700 islands, islets, rocks and reefs which comprise the Falklands are situated some 315 nautical miles down-wind and down-stream from Cape Horn. Battered by frequent gales and surrounded by strong currents, the Islands have always provided both peril and sanctuary for the seafarer. Over 180 ships are known to have met their end in the wild seas which surround the Falklands. Without doubt there will have been others which sank without trace.
During the 1850’s there was a sudden upsurge in sea-borne traffic around Cape Horn. Vessels trading in Californian and Australian gold, Chilean copper and Peruvian guano began calling into Stanley for repair and provisions. The nearest alternative port was Montevideo a thousand miles to the north. Some ships attempting to round the Horn were overloaded, some unseaworthy, and others simply unlucky. Many suffered severe battering and, riding the prevailing westerlies, limped back into harbour to lick their wounds. A few lame ducks never recovered. Others were deliberately wrecked and their cargoes sold by unscrupulous dealers. The growing port gained a notorious reputation and a flock of worn-out windjammers. Several are still stuck in the Stanley harbour mud. But time and tide and two pernicious sea worms, the teredo and the gribble, have hastened their demise and in many cases their crumbling woodwork has all but disappeared.
This issue depicts some of those vessels which finished their days beached along the Falklands’ shorelines. They remain an integral part of the Islands’ history and a reminder of the salty men who sailed in them.
Built by William Hall of Black Rock, Connecticut and launched on 11th November 1856, the 850 ton fully-rigged ship Charles Cooper was a fine example of American deep-water, wooden, merchant ship-building. She was built as a packet ship – the packets being vessels that ran to a fixed schedule, rather than sailing only when full. She would have been able to carry more than 250 passengers and 3,500 barrels of cargo. During her first voyage from New York – Antwerp – New York her mixed cargo included tobacco, flour, cotton, rice, resin, coffee, lard, codfish, beeswax, mahogany and logwood. On 1st June 1866, the “Cooper” set sail from Philadelphia. Bound for San Francisco with a cargo of coal, she encountered bad weather rounding Cape Horn and limped into Stanley Harbour on 25th September of the same year. Her condition was described in the Colonial Shipping Register as being “leaky and in need of repairs”. She was condemned as unseaworthy and never sailed again. The Charles Cooper was sold for use as a storage hulk and was grounded alongside the Acteon at the now defunct West Jetty where she served as a warehouse until the 1960s. In 1968 the “Cooper” was bought by South Street Seaport Museum of New York who hoped to transport the ship “home”. When it became evident that this would be too expensive, the ship was returned to Falklands ownership and eventually given into the care of the Museum. In 2003 a small local team removed the rotting remains of the hulk of the Charles Cooper from Stanley Harbour as she was deemed a hazard to shipping. At the present time she rests onshore close to the Airport Road to the east of Stanley.
The 561-ton Canadian barque Acteon arrived on 22nd January 1853 under the command of Captain Robertson. 156 days out from Liverpool and bound for San Francisco laden with coal, she put back into Stanley after failing to round Cape Horn and was subsequently scuttled after survey.
The bones of the 390-ton wooden barque Capricorn are still visible close to site of the old Beaver floatplane hangar along Ross Road West in Stanley. She was built in Swansea for the copper ore trade in 1859. In February 1882, outbound from South Wales, her cargo of coal ignited in heavy weather off Cape Horn. She hastened to Staten Island where she was scuttled in shallow water to dowse the blaze. After being pumped out and re-floated she made sail for Stanley whereupon she was condemned as unseaworthy. She gained various employments as a lighter, storage hulk and finally a jetty head for the military garrison during the Second World War. Capricorn was stripped for firewood in 1948. At 157 years of age she continues to earn her keep as a part-time tourist attraction.
The Afterglow was a steam drifter in Lowestoft in 1918. She arrived in the Islands in 1921 as a fur seal rookery protection vessel. From 1927-38 she became the Port Richards and was used as a sealer. She reverted back to her maiden name and became HMS Afterglow when she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as an armed patrol vessel in 1940. HMS Afterglow sustained damage in the shallow and treacherous Reef Channel at Saunders Island and, as a consequence, was laid up in Stanley Harbour. Finally she dragged ashore in a gale. Her remains can today be seen on the beach close to the Stanley Market Garden.
Text by Tony Chater.
Photography Tony Chater
Printer Cartor Security Printing
Perforation 13 ¼ x 13 per 2 cms
Stamp size 38 x 30.6mm
Sheet Layout 10
Release date 27 March, 2017
Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd