Stamps depicting the Atlantic puffin, which arrive on Burhou island near Alderney each Spring, have been released by Guernsey Post. The stamps have been designed by Guernsey-based artist James Colmer.
Bridget Yabsley, head of philatelic at Guernsey Post, said: – “Every spring, around 100 pairs of Atlantic puffins reunite on a rocky little island called Burhou, 1.4 miles northeast of Alderney. It’s when their grey bodies brighten to a costume of striking black and white and their beaks begin to glow with red, yellow and black stripes.
“Each pair is incredibly loyal to each other and will often return to the same home every year where they will raise a single baby puffin, known as a puffling, until it fledges.
“We are delighted with the stamps that James Colmer has designed, which capture the beauty of these striking creatures.”
Pollution, dwindling fish stocks and extreme weather variation all pose a threat to the Atlantic puffin and between 2012 and 2017 the island’s population declined. They are classed as ‘vulnerable’ on the global ICUN Red List of Threatened species with worldwide numbers on the decline.
In the Bailiwick of Guernsey, numbers have rallied in recent years with the help of the Alderney Wildlife Trust, which monitors their numbers and meticulously protects the site during breeding season. Landing on Burhou during this period is prohibited and a ‘puffin friendly zone’ was established in 2018 by the Trust in collaboration with the States of Alderney, the Alderney Marine Management Forum, Alderney Harbour Office and local fishermen, to reduce disturbance of seabirds in the area.
The stamps: –
56p: Puffins are surprisingly fast flyers. By flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute they can reach speeds of 55 miles an hour.
79p: Puffins typically hunt small fish like herring or sand eels.
87p: Puffins live most of their lives at sea, resting on the waves when not swimming. They are excellent swimmers that use their wings to stroke underwater with a flying motion. They steer with rudderlike webbed feet and can dive to depths of 200 feet, though they usually stay underwater for only 20 or 30 seconds.
£1.21: Females lay a single egg, and both parents take turns incubating and feeding the chick by carrying small fish back to the nest in their relatively spacious bills.
£1.39: Atlantic puffins land on Atlantic seacoasts and islands to form breeding colonies each spring and summer.
£1.50: The birds often select precipitous, rocky cliff tops to build their nests, which they line with feathers or grass. Puffin couples often reunite at the same burrow site each year.
The stamp products are available now at www.guernseystamps.com or by calling Philatelic Customer Services on 01481 716486.