Bitter Grounds Magazine

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African Barbet bird stamps from Namibia Post

Written by catpaw

May 17, 2021

Let’s return to one of my favourites – Namibia Post. I’ve been lurking around their site quite a bit because it has so much information and as a bonus, is easy to navigate. That can’t be said for a lot of post office sites. Yea, that’s my big hobby horse, badly designed post office websites. Occasionally I feel like I’m playing a game of hide the stamps.

Namibia issues wonderful wildlife stamps and FDCs, complete with informative downloadable pdfs. They are a rich resource for thematic collectors.  Philately Shop – Philately | NamPost – We Deliver More

Namibian wildlife 

Namibian naturalist, artist and photographer Helge Denker is single handily responsible for his all NamPost’s beautiful animal and bird stamps.  His current designs (see here) for 2021, Snipes and Mustelids (polecats, weasels etc.), are typical of his work. Clean, detailed and informative. What I enjoy most is the little snippets of information about each animal or bird is printed on the First Day Covers. Denker has a design philosophy that will sound familiar to anyone who hangs around my site – he views stamps as representatives of the countries they come from as well:

Postage stamps are miniature ambassadors. They travel around the world promoting their country and heritage. And they are miniature works of art. They portray the essence of so many faucets of nature, culture and society. They can capture so much within that tiny format. And so, a philatelic artist is part artist, part designer, part scientist, part ambassador. A wonderful profession – or a nightmare, depending on the theme and the deadline. 
Welcome to Wild Heart Journeys (helgedenker.com)

Denker was in the news recently for an incident with starving lions. He used that event to highlight how under pressure Namibian nature has become. You can read his article here  Brandberg Lion Attack – a minor drama in a complex conservation landscape (conservationnamibia.com).  It’s a lengthy read, but worth it. 

But my friends, we aren’t here to discuss lions, we are here to appreciate the small, but lovely African Barbet. There were so many birds on Namibian stamps to choose from, I had difficulties narrowing down to one set. I opted for the little Barbet. I have a preference for tough little birds. Barbets belong to a large family that ranges all over the world. The African Barbets include 42 species across the continent. At an average of 7″ in length, they are more  medium-ish sized, but it still fits within my “little bird” parameters. Barbets are described as “medium sized, chunky, generally colorful, frugivorous, hole-nesting near-passerines”  Africa’s Barbets – 10,000 Birds (10000birds.com). They also eat lots of bugs too. I prefer to think of them as stout little birds rather than chunky medium ones. But I suspect the Barbets don’t care, one way or the other. 

Namibia Post 2017 Barbets of Africa

A small family of distinctive birds, barbets are stout little creatures with powerful bills and – for their small body size – large
heads. They live in pairs and feed mostly on fruits and insects. Their preference for fruit tends to restrict their range to countryside with
natural or introduced fruit trees, with wild figs an absolute favourite. All barbets excavate their own nests in the thick branches or trunks
of trees, using their bills as wood chisels
2017 NamPost Brochure_FINAL2.pdf 

Helge Denker designed each of the stamps and the visually appealing cover. If you go to Namibia Post, you’ll quickly recognise his artwork spread over the years. This little fellow on the left, on the cover below, is the Acacia Pied Barbet.

FDC from Namibia Post showing Barbets

Namibia Post First Day cover with set of three & cancel

And here he is on full display:

Two stamps showing a pair of Acacia Pied Barbet

Acacia Pied Barbet

They can be found  from the semi-arid savannas to the grasslands. Acacias have also moved into more urban settings and can be found flitting about gardens now.  I found a clip of the Acacia’s sound: 

Acacia Pied Barbet (Tricholaema leucomelas) Song, © Peter Boesman

And here is the Black Collared Barbet. I was fascinated to read they are “monomorphic”, which means there is little (if any) difference between male and female.  That should confuse more than a few bird watchers. 

Black collared Barbet from Namibia Post

Black Collared Barbet

There call has been described as too-puddly too-puddly too-puddly” or “too-doodle too-doodle”. I wisely decided to find an audio clip to help with actual call.

Black collared barbet © Dries Van de Loock

Finally the Crested Barbet, according to The Atlas for Southern African Birds, can be found on the savannahs, woodlands, urban areas and grasslands throughout Namibia. 

Crested Barbet from Namibia

Crested Barbet

Of course I couldn’t leave out the call of a Crested Barbet. 

Song, © Faansie Peacock
 
A bit of a short dive into birds of Africa, but a fun one. I’ve already picked out more bird stamps from Namibia for future articles. The artwork is delightful and I can’t wait to return to them. 
 
This page is dedicated to bird watchers everywhere.
 

If you’re interested in Barbets, this page lists all the African ones Lybiidae / African Barbets bird family | DiBird.com.

And don’t forget to check out the 2021 birds Namibian 2021 stamps – big rewards | Bitter Grounds Magazine 

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