The naturalist Charles Darwin wrote of the lack of colour in the Falklands environment, describing it as drab and generally colourless: "…everywhere covered by a peaty soil and wiry grass, of a monotonous brown colour". He was of course making reference to the vast flat landscape of the southern parts of East Falkland where the sober colours of the grassland and heath predominate. In general the Falkland landscape does not exhibit the range of bright colours found in many environments, but against this rather sober back-cloth are a variety of colours to match those found in any tropical environment.
The theme Colour In Nature looks at the wide range of colours found in nature and more specifically, the colours found in plants, birds and invertebrates that are found in the Falklands environment.
In this issue of four designs two species of bird and two plants have been selected to show a small sample of the range and intensity of colour found in the natural world of the Falkland Islands.
75p. Black Oystercatcher Haematopus ater
Also referred to as the Blackish Oystercatcher as in some light conditions the black wing feathers can show highlights of dark brown. The design shows an adult bird with its spectacular golden eye, orange red eye ring and the bill of deep red orange with a yellow orange tip. This is a widespread coastal species feeding on hard shelled molluscs such as limpets and mussels. Nest sites of this species are often identified by the large accumulations of shells from adults feeding their young.
75p. Vanilla Daisy Leuceria suaveolens
An endemic species generally found in more sheltered situations often appearing between clumps of fern and Diddle-dee berry in coastal heath-land. Although lacking brilliant colours, it is nevertheless a showy species with its white flowers and dove grey to green stems and leaves making it stand out against the more sober colours of the heath-land that it grows in.
Its common name is derived from the vanilla like scent of the flowers.
30p. King Penguin Aptenodyptes p. patagonica
This penguin is probably the showiest and largest of the bird species found in the Islands. Although still relatively uncommon in the Falklands it is increasing with small breeding groups appearing especially on the east coast of East Falkland. The largest colony in the Islands recorded in 2014 numbered an estimated 2000 pairs, with the same colony in 1985 numbering some 84 pairs.
The most striking of this species plumage are the bright golden orange auricular patches on the sides of the head which extend down as a narrow band of colour across the throat. As a backcloth to these colours is the bright steel blue of the nape and shoulders with the silver white of the breast and lower parts.
30p. Marsh Marigold Caltha sagittata
An herbaceous plant generally found growing on the margins of freshwater ponds and in damp boggy situations. The plant forms dense mats which are generally ground hugging but where plants benefit from the dropping of seabirds and other coastal species it can grow to some 30 cm in height.
The bright and shiny green leaves form a contrasting backcloth to its white and yellow green flowers making it one of the Falklands most colourful plants.
Date of issue 16 September, 2014