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United Kingdom stamp program celebrates 11th anniversary

by John Wells

The introduction of the 2001-2002 United Kingdom duck stamp was held earlier this year during the annual Game Fair, hosted by the Countryside Landowners Association. The Game Fair was held on the ground of Shuttleworth – Old Warden Park on the weekend of July 27-29, 2001.

Originally scheduled to be held at Woburn Abbey, Buckinghamshire, the Game Fair was moved in order to protect the rare and exotic breeds of animals in Woburn Wildlife Park due to the extensive outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease.

The new location is the home of the world famous Shuttleworth Collection of Historic Aeroplanes and Vehicles, the English School of Falconry and Shuttleworth College, which offers a wide range of courses.

The stamp is issued by the Wildlife Habitat Trust, established in 1986 by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation but operating as an independent fund dedicated to the acquisition, creation and management of all types of wildlife habitat.

The 2001 UK habitat conservation stamp features the pochard, one of Britain’s most widespread wintering diving ducks. In the stamp design, by wildlife artist Owen Williams, rafts of pochard are shown swimming off the Slimbridge New Grounds on the River Severn Estuary.

Slimbridge in Gloucestershire is a major wintering area for large numbers of this species, and Williams felt the skyline would present an interesting background for a painting.

For years, Owen had driven over the Severn bridge from his home in West Wales and had quaked at the water’s terrific tidal run. In order to produce a true reflection of the pochard in natural surroundings, Owen searched for a way to get out onto the water. Thanks to the Severn Area Rescue Boats, he was able to get much closer to the birds for sketching and taking reference photos. Owen says, “I think there is something very exciting about a picture that views the bird from within its own element.” In my opinion, this is bourne out in this year’s stamp.

The pochard’s main breeding grounds are in the Baltic countries and into Russia. The pochard is a species of migratory waterfowl which has benefited from the UK Habitat Stamp funded flyway projects, helping maintain vital breeding and staging grounds. On Wildlife Habitat Trust assisted sites, nests of pochard are found in dense marginal cover where young ducklings can find plenty of insect life on which they depend in their early days of life.

The 2002 Game Fair will be held July 26-28 at Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire, the historic and stately home of Lord Mountbatten (located 85 miles southwest of central London).

My personal condolences and tribute to the people of the United States

Following the horrific events that took place on September 11 in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania, may I convey my deepest sympathy to all who lost relatives, loved ones, friends and colleagues at the hands of terrorists. May I also pay tribute to all the emergency services and other for their courage and devotion to duty. I’m sure the memory of that fateful day will remain forever with all people around the world.

John Wells is a stamp dealer in England specializing in duck stamps.

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