The naturalist Charles Darwin who made two short visits to the Falkland Islands in 1833 and 1834, wrote of the lack of colour in the Island's 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 elsewhere, 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, colours in plants, birds and invertebrates that are found in the Falklands environment.
In this issue of four designs two species of bird, one species of fungi and a butterfly have been selected to show a small sample of the range and intensity of colour found in the natural world of the Falkland Islands.
30p. Macaroni Penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus stamp
The Macaroni Penguin is a relatively uncommon species in the Falkland Islands. This species of crested penguin is generally found breeding as single pairs or in very small groups amongst larger colonies of Rockhopper Penguins Eudyptes chrysocome.
The largely black and white plumage of this species forms a backcloth for its distinctive golden crest which gives it the name chrysolophus from the Greek chrysolophos meaning golden crested. The rose-pink skin which surrounds the base of its red-brown bill and forms the gape adds to the conspicuous colouring of this penguin.
30p. Purple Cap Fungi Camorophyllus adonis stamp
This fungus is fairly widespread in the Falkland Islands and usually associated with moist or boggy grasslands. It is characterized by its deep purple cap, creamy white foot and gills. The species name Adonis may be taken from the term strikingly beautiful referring to the god Adonis in Greek Mythology.
75p. Patagonian Crested Duck Lophonetta s. specularioides stamp
The Patagonian Crested Duck or Grey Duck as it is locally known, is a fairly common marine species widely distributed in the Islands. It is particularly prolific in the more sheltered bays with extensive shallows and tidal reaches.
Its distinctive vermillion coloured eye, beautifully mottled plumage of creams, buffs and browns, although fitting Darwin's description of sober colours, make it one of the most attractive of Falkland wildfowl. The blue-green iridescent reflecting flash of the wings speculum may possibly have resulted in its specific name of specularioides from the Latin, "resembling a mirror".
75p. Southern Painted Lady Cynthiacarye stamp
A member of the Nymphalidae family of butterflies and closely related to the Painted Lady Vanessa cardui of North America, which is an extraordinary migrant and one of the most cosmopolitan of all butterflies. This southern species is smaller and generally confined to South America, but is not uncommonly sighted in the Falkland Islands, more especially in late summer. During its short four-week life as a butterfly, it either migrates from the continent, or is carried over to the Islands on the predominately westerly winds. Perhaps less plausible a small breeding population may exist in the Falklands.
Known in South America as the Four-eyed Lady from its four eye spots on the dorsal wings. With deep orange-red and brown patches on the wings plus white splashes on the fore wings, the species is very distinctive and colourful.