Monday, June 02, 2008

Two covers from Israel

Israel is a country from where I did not get so many mails up to now. Through a covers exchange club, I recently received from a contact in Netherlands, two nice covers from Israel bearing fauna stamps. Even though I'm not the addressee of these covers I decided to share them with you. For privacy reasons I have occulted the information about the actual addressee.
The first cover is franked with a band of four se-tenant stamps picturing wild animals that can be found in zoos in Israel.

This set of four stamps has been issued on the 17th of September 1992. Two different zoos are celebrated by this set.
The first one is Jerusalem zoo, located in Manahat Park on the south-west of the city. The zoo is built around an artificial lake which serves as the home for the waterfowl that separates the public from the animals. By the lake itself there are waterfalls and areas of running water, and the lake contains islands, some of which house the monkeys. The birds are exhibited within a huge aviary that is open to the public and in which the birds are able to fly about freely. A closed and air-conditioned exhibition hall was built for small animals, and here a variety of reptiles and small mammals, which need to be seen at close quarters, and which require controlled living conditions, are on show.The second one is the Zoological Centre in Tel-Aviv. It has three major parts: the drive-through African park, a new zoo, and a classroom. The centre was first opened to the public in 1974 as a drive-through Safari park. Here a community of African animals moves freely within the boundaries of the centre. The new zoo opened in 1981 and houses animals from around the world, primarily from the collection of the former Tel Aviv Zoo. Over 1,000 animals are exhibited within the zoo and the African area, including 66 species of mammals, 99 species of birds and 6 species of reptiles. It is the largest zoo in Israel.
The set of stamps has been issued in the form of a souvenir sheet. And, as very often with stamps from Israel, some stamps have been issued with a tab attached. Here is the picture of the sheet (sorry I could not find a bigger scan).

Two species from the Jerusalem zoo are pictured on the stamps :

- The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), which is a sub-species of the lion, different from the African lion. Compared to their African cousins, Asiatic lions have shaggier coats, with a longer tassel on the end of the tail and longer tufts of hair on the elbows. This species is endangered and survives today only in India. As often in Israel, the stamp has been issued with a tab that continues the design and that bears the inscription "Yehuda is a lion's whelp..." (Genesis 49;9).

- The Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) which is said to be the largest of all sub-species of leopards in the world. It is endangered throughout its range in the Middle East. The inscription on the tab is "...and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; ...and a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11;6)

And two species from the Zoological Centre are pictured on the two other stamps :

- The well known Common Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). The Inscription on the tab is "... ivory and apes, and peacocks." (The First Book Of Kings 10;22)

- The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) which is smaller than its African relatives. The easiest way to distinguish the two is that the Asian elephant has smaller ears. The Asian Elephant has other differences from its African relatives, including a more arched back than the African, one semi-prehensile "finger" at the tip of its trunk as opposed to two, four nails on each hind foot instead of three, and 19 pairs of ribs instead of 21. The Inscription on the tab : "On seeing an elephant, an ape, or a long tailed ape, one says: Blessed is He who makes strange creatures." (The Babylonian Talmud 58b)

The second cover is franked with sic stamps picturing birds.

These stamps are part of a souvenir sheet, containing 10 stamps, and issued on the 17th of April 1996 for China 96, the 9th Asian International Philatelic Exhibition. Here is a picture (again a small picture) of the full souvenir sheet.

The ten stamps re-use the design of the definitive stamps issued between 1992 and 1995 picturing song birds, but using different colours and with a grey border.

The birds appearing on this series of stamps belong to the Passeriformes, or as they are commonly called - songbirds. This group includes over 5,000 species, of which 192 may be found in Israel.
From left to right and top to bottom on the cover, are pictured the following species :

- Wall creeper (Tichodroma muraria). This species is uniquely colored in its family, easily recognized by the bold red markings on its wings. It is about 16 cm long and weighs about 18 grams. The Wall creeper is a rare winter visitor to Israel, and may be seen in cliffs in northern Israel and in the Judean Desert. Its strong feet and claws enable it to cling to cliffs and walls, while feeding on insects it pulls out of the crevices.

- Palestine sunbird (Nectarina osea). This is a small bird, about 10 cm long and weighing only some 8 grams. It flies from flower to flower, sipping their nectar, which is the origin of its Latin name. The male bird has brilliant green and violet metallic colors. It breeds up to thrice yearly, mainly in spring, building its nests in sheltered places. It has even been known to nest on plants growing in flower pots in inhabited dwellings.

- White wagtail (Motacilla alba). One of the best known species in Israel in autumn and winter, with its characteristic walk: a fast run with sudden pauses while bobbing its tail. The White Wagtail has striking black, white and gray coloring, is 17 cm long and weighs about 25 grams. It heralds the autumn, when it comes from the north to spend the winter in Israel. Several pairs have been found breeding in the country. It feeds mainly on insects, and in the evening Wagtails form large flocks and roost in trees together, both in the city and the country. They can be heard from afar, as they arrange themselves in the branches for the night.

- Black-eared wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica). The Black-Eared wheatear is a small, sandy colored bird, one of the 11 different wheatear species found in Israel. The Black-Eared wheatear is about 14.5 centimeters long and weighs 15-22 grams, and can usually be seen standing conspicuously on a rock or on the ground in open landscapes. Its call is a loud "chack" and it feeds on insects it gathers on the ground or in flight, and nests in holes in the ground.

- Common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus). The bulbul gets its name from the Arabic word for nightingale. It has a fluty, varied song that includes imitations of other birds. It is a medium-sized bird, about 20 centimeters long and weighing about 37 grams. Its plumage is mostly gray, with a black head and tail and a bright yellow patch under its tail. The bulbuls are noisy birds which usually live in pairs (not necessarily comprised of a male and female). It feeds on insects and fruit, and is an agricultural pest, being found in any tree- or shrub-covered environment, such as fruit tree groves, gardens and human settlements.

- Trumpeter finch (Rhodopechys githaginous). This small desert finch is named for its call, which sounds like a toy trumpet. In the summer, the male's plumage, with its bright red bill, pink forehead and under parts and brownish gray feathers tinted various shades of pink, can be seen from afar. In the winter these bright colors fade, and its plumage becomes brownish-gray and its bill yellow. The Trumpeter Finch is about 13 centimeters long and weighs about 15 grams. It can usually be found on the ground, hopping between rocks and crevices, looking for food such as seeds, green leaves and insects. It builds its nest on the ground between rocks or under bushes, and the entrance is sometimes paved with small stones.

The other stamps that are not on the cover picture the following species :

- Tristram's grackle (Onycognatus tristramii). This is a black bird, with orange wing patches. It is about 25-30 cm long. It was named after Canon Tristram, who visited Israel during the middle of the last century. It feeds on fruit, insects and picnickers' leftovers. It is a social bird, living in small groups and forming flocks of hundreds in the winter. Its pleasant calls break the stillness of the desert where it nests in rock crevices and caves.

- Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica). This species is easily recognized by its forked tail, blue-black coloring and rusty breast and forehead. It is 15-20 cm long, and weighs about 13-20 grams. In Israel it is both resident and migrant, feeding on insects it catches on the wing. Barn Swallows can be seen in spectacular flights over pools as they dip to the water surface to drink.

- Graceful warbler (Prinia gracilis). T his warbler is one of the smallest birds found in Israel, about 10 centimeters long and weighing only some six grams. It is grayish-brown and distinguished by a long, cocked tail, each feather of which ends in a white-ringed black patch. The Graceful Warblers usually live in pairs, and are one of the commonest resident birds in Israel. Its song can be heard in gardens and fields all over the country. It feeds mainly on insects and builds its nests in plant thickets, relatively close to the ground.

- Sinai Rosefinch (Carpodacus synoicus). This desert finch owes its name to the color of the male plumage in spring. Its head and breast are pink, its wings and tail brown, and it has a strong, gray bill. It is about 15 centimeters long and weighs about 20 grams. The Sinai Rosefinch gathers seeds and other plants on the ground, and since it needs a regular water supply, may often be seen near water sources in the desert. Except for the nesting season, these finches live in flocks easily located by their calls. The Sinai Rosefinch is a rare, resident species in the Eilat and central Negev areas, but more common in southern Sinai. Its nest is hidden in crevices in cliffs.

As you can see, for both covers the postmark is impossible to read, this is a pity. But still, I really like those two covers !

1 comment:

msyanwu said...

I like the Zoo cover alot. Very cute animals and nice presentation