24 juli 2024

Experience nature – Birds on Bonaire

On 2 January 2024, PostNL will publish the Experience nature – Birds on Bonaire issue: a sheet of ten stamps in ten different designs. The denomination on these stamps is ‘1’, the denomination for items weighing up to 20g with destinations in the Netherlands. A sheet of ten stamps costs €10.90. The stamp sheet about birds on Bonaire is part of the 2024-2026 Experience nature series dedicated to the Caribbean Netherlands. In the series, four stamp sheets are issued every year, each comprising ten different stamps. The stamps depict plants and animals found in this part of the Netherlands. With thousands of species of plants and animals, the islands in this area have a biodiversity that is unprecedented by Dutch standards. 2024 will consecutively focus on the birds, butterflies, underwater life and flora on the island of Bonaire. Experience nature – Birds on Bonaire features the crested caracara, red-footed booby, mangrove warbler, southern lapwing, Venezuelan troupial, Caribbean flamingo, red ibis, yellow-shouldered amazon, magnificent frigatebird and ruby-topaz hummingbird.

Just like Sint Eustatius and Saba, the island of Bonaire holds a separate status within the Netherlands. The collective name for these three islands is the Caribbean Netherlands. Alongside the countries of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, they form the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Bonaire spans almost 29,000 hectares, making it 50% larger than Texel. Bonaire is home to around 24,000 people, most of whom speak Papiamentu as their first language. The main sources of income are tourism and salt extraction, and the island is a popular destination for diving holidays and cruise ships. Since 2010, Bonaire has been a special municipality, and the island council is the most senior governing body responsible for local legislation. Executive power lies with the island deputies appointed by the island council and chaired by the Governor. The island boasts a relatively large amount of nature. To the north is Washington Slagbaai National Park, which is home to cactus forests, aloe fields, rock formations, salt lakes, limestone caves, sand dunes, blowholes and crumbling limestone terraces. Back in 1969, the over 4,200-hectare park became the Netherlands Antilles’ first nature park. The Bonaire National Marine Park has been a legally protected underwater park surrounding the entire island and the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire since 1979. The 6600-plus hectare park is also home to a coral reef, seagrass and a mangrove forest. Klein Bonaire is also a legally protected nature reserve in its own right. This coral reef-lined islet is home to salt lakes where Caribbean flamingos forage and important nesting sites for sea turtles.

Bird-rich Bonaire is home to over 200 different bird species: breeding birds, winter visitors as well as regular visitors and wanderers. Most of Bonaire’s birds live in Washington Slagbaai National Park, situated on the north side of the island. Other famous spots for bird watching include Lac Cai Beach in the east, the Grote Pekelmeer lake in the south and the Karst and Caves Nature Reserve in the north east. Thanks to the large number of freshwater springs, many birds can survive on this Caribbean island, which is usually dry. Besides common birds such as sparrows, Bonaire is home to many species of waterfowl, including the magnificent frigatebird, the pelican and, of course, the Caribbean flamingo. Birds of prey such as the crested caracara and the osprey are also found there, as are waders, gull species and tropical coloured birds such as the rose-ringed parakeet, two hummingbird species, the yellow oriole, the Venezuelan troupial, the bananaquit and the mangrove warbler. The Caribbean flamingo is Bonaire’s national symbol. Its image and colours recur everywhere, right down to the name of the reddish-pink coloured Flamingo Airport. The yellow-shouldered amazon is also synonymous with Bonaire. Bonaire is one of the few places on earth where this unique species of parrot is found.

Sources: beautiful-bonaire.nl, dcnanature.org, dreamtheworld.nl, nature-abc.com, wikipedia.nl

The Experience nature – Birds on Bonaire stamp sheet was designed by graphic designer Frank Janse from Gouda. On the sheet, each bird is depicted in its natural environment on its own stamp. The following ten birds are featured: crested caracara, red-footed booby, mangrove warbler, southern lapwing, Venezuelan troupial, Caribbean flamingo, red ibis, yellow-shouldered amazon, magnificent frigatebird and ruby-topaz hummingbird. All bird photos are incorporated in a graphic layer with circle shapes that are also visible on the sheet edge. Some images also continue onto the adjacent stamp and onto the sheet edge. In several places on the stamp sheet, the designer has added graphics derived from symbols on old topographical maps. These symbols can indicate landscape forms, contour lines, plantings, soil structures and watercourses. The design also features an additional transparent layer featuring monochrome images (both white and in colour) of flora and fauna that are typical of this area. The monochrome images are almost abstract cross the perforations and connect the stamps to each other and to the sheet edge. The following plants and animals are depicted: red ibis and ceroid cactus (top left), melon cactus and yellow-shouldered amazon (top right), mangrove warbler (middle left), magnificent frigatebird (bottom right) and common lantana (bottom right and centre).

The typography used is the DIN 2014; a font designed by Vasily Biryukov from Bulgaria and released by Paratype in 2015. In the captions on the stamp sheet, the designer Frank Janse creatively and humorously expresses his associations with the names, features and appearance of the depicted birds.

Over the next few years, PostNL’s Experience Nature series will focus on the flora and fauna of the Caribbean Netherlands. Nature on Bonaire will take centre stage on the four Experience Nature sheets published in 2024. Graphic designer Frank Janse from Gouda has added a new twist to the stamp sheet designs in this series, which PostNL has been publishing since 2017.

Bright colours
The custom design is guided by the bold colours found in Caribbean nature. Janse: ‘In the first issue of this year, you can see the bright colours of birds found on Bonaire. The reason for selecting DIN 2014 as the new font was in order to emphasise the colours even more. This creates a nice contrast between the richness of the birds’ colour on the one hand and the sober, clean typography on the other. The frivolous splashes on the sheet edge have disappeared, and for the first time, I decided to add graphics to the stamps. I associate Islands like Bonaire with old topographic maps. The graphics on the stamps are taken from the symbols used by mapmakers to clarify how an area looks. The stamp sheet about Bonaire, for example, features a typical island shape in the bottom left-hand corner. But you can also see contour lines in it.’

The basic design of the Experience Nature series has been retained, including the circle shapes in the background. ‘The circles were applied in a different way, though,’ Janse said. ‘They protrude less far into the sheet edge and I ensured that they run like serrations along the perforation. This represents a certain rawness that I also associate with the topographical symbols on old land and sea maps where the ink has deteriorated. The symbols have no direct relationship with Bonaire, and so the island shape is arbitrary. But it has to be right, of course. I would never add symbols representing waves on a stamp featuring a bird that only lives on land.’

One major difference between Dutch and Caribbean nature is the availability of imagery. ‘My starting point was only to use photos that were taken on Bonaire itself,’ says Janse. ‘I quickly abandoned that idea. There were simply too few photos and I wanted to make decisions that would benefit the composition. Lots birds had been photographed in other places, so I used those photos too. Some photos have been edited in order to blur the background. I avoided using an image of a bird with a tree or bush visible in the background that is not found on Bonaire. This also added calmness and depth to the design.’

The images of the birds on the front are repeated on the back of the stamps, coloured in monochrome against a blank background. Janse: ‘I used that space to repeat the names of birds, photographers and image banks. The colours on the back correspond with the colours of the transparent images on the front. That’s another innovative concept that’s been incorporated into this year’s design. The transparent images always used to be white, and here colours have been used as they are so strongly intertwined with Caribbean nature. For example, a red ibis is depicted in red in the top left-hand corner, and below it are a green ceroid cactus and a yellow mangrove warbler.’

Relationships between images
For the stamp sheet’s composition, Janse has sought to create an ideal relationship between all of the images in terms of colour, position, direction, close-up shots and images from afar. ‘That’s why some photos are taken from close up and others are zoomed out. One photo features a ruby-topaz hummingbird in flight, and two yellow-shouldered amazons were added for the sake of variety. Colour was key in all decisions; blue was used at the top of the stamp sheet, for example, where you expect the sky to be. First of all, I position the images bare, and then I start moving them around, enlarging them, shrinking them, and so on. This creates relationships between the images – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. You can see branches running from one stamp to another, for example. The lapwing’s body seems to be connected to the flamingo’s head. The circles also seem to follow the curved shapes of the birds where possible.’

A bird enthusiast
Although Janse has never been to Bonaire, he is a bird enthusiast and so he is familiar with many of the species featured on the stamps. ‘As a child, I found the magnificent frigatebird extremely interesting. It’s huge bird that can stay in the air for months without landing. It stands pontifically on the stamp in the left-hand corner, with its red breast puffed out and its large beak. The crested caracara is just as interesting. This falcon species is an incredibly opportunistic beast; it eats just about anything, and preferably steals food from other animals. It’s a real predator. And, of course, the hummingbird had to fly onto the stamp. It’s a clever photo that’s been taken with a very good camera. Its stance really catches your eye – it’s as if it is turning a corner mid-air.’

About the designer
Frank Janse (Vlissingen, 1967) graduated as a graphic designer from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2001. Janse is a specialist in corporate identity, branding, infographics and communication campaigns. Until 2019, he worked for various advertising and design agencies, including Room for IDs, and he also worked for himself as Frank Grafisch Ontwerp in Gouda. In 2019, together with Leene Communicatie, he founded the new company Leene Visuele Communicatie, which designs communication tools focusing on content and information design. Leene Visual Communication works for clients including housing corporation Rochdale, PostNL, Randstad Group Netherlands, the Dutch central government, Vattenfall and the organisation for health research and care innovation ZonMw. Since late 2022, Frank has been the Design Director and Co-owner of VormVijf in The Hague. VormVijf works for governments, companies and organisations with the (mostly organised) citizen as its most important and largest target group. The agency connects strategy, design and content with the ambition to innovate, surprise and create impact. On the instructions of PostNL, Frank Janse has previously designed various luxury storage systems and personal stamps, including the 2017 themed collection on bird species of the Netherlands. He also produced the designs for the Experience nature series from 2018 to 2023. In 2023, he designed the personal stamps Holland America Line’s 150th anniversary, Girl with a Pearl Earring and Inauguration of Queen Juliana, containing 24 -carat gold.

The stamps are available while stocks last at all PostNL sales outlets, the post office counter in Bruna shops and at www.postnl.nl/bijzondere-postzegels [in Dutch]. The stamps can also be ordered from the Collect Club customer service by calling 088 868 99 00. The validity period is indefinite.

The Experience nature – Birds on Bonaire stamps are marked with ‘Nederland 1’, the denomination for items up to 20g in weight destined for delivery in the Netherlands. A sheet of ten stamps costs €10.90.

Stamp size 40 x 30mm
Sheet size 122 x 170mm
Paper normal with phosphor print
Glue self-adhesive
Printing technique offset
Printing colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black
Print run 285,000 sheets
Appearance sheet of 10 stamps in 10 different designs
Design Frank Janse, Gouda
Photography Dreamstime, Wikimedia Commons (Charles J. Sharp, Mike’s Birds, Stephen J. Jones, Steve Wilson, Wolfartist)
Printing company Koninklijke Joh. Enschedé B.V., Haarlem
Item number 440161

© 2024 Koninklijke PostNL BV

The crested caracara (Caracara plancus cheriway, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Warawara) is one of Bonaire’s most spectacular birds. This large bird of prey found throughout South America, is largely cloaked in black and white coloured plumage. Its body length is between 50cm and 60cm, its wingspan is between 110cm and 130cm and its weight is between 1kg and 1.3kg. The crested caracara can fly just fine, but it prefers to run after sick and injured prey animals. The caracara is also a scavenger that does not leave carrion lying around. Usually, the crested caracara is a quiet species, but it can make an unmistakable clucking and rattling sound by swinging its crested head backwards. During the breeding season, males fight over females in the air. After mating, the crested caracara makes a nest of thin branches, dried faeces and feathers, usually at the top of a palm tree.

Source: beautiful-bonaire.nl, wikipedia.nl

The red-legged booby (Sula sula, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Bubi Pia Kòrá) is a seabird belonging to the gannet family. Adult birds a bluish bills. The legs are usually red, but they can also be pink. The bird is found in a wide belt around the equator, in tropical seas and oceans between the two tropics. Hence, the red-legged booby is also found in Bonaire. Within this area, it almost always breeds on rocky islands, except in the eastern Atlantic. Red-legged boobies can live for up to 40 years and they dive into the ocean at high speeds in order to catch prey. They mainly eat small fish or squid that gather on the surface in groups.

Source: picturebirdai.com, wikipedia.nl

The mangrove warbler (Setophaga petechia, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Para di Misa) belongs to the American warbler family. There are 34 subspecies that prefer to live in the mangrove forests of the Caribbean, including the Netherlands Antilles (and therefore Bonaire). The mangrove warbler is also called the golden or yellow whitethroat. Young birds in particular devour many pest insects during the breeding season. The song of the breeding males is described as sweet and musical. The mangrove warbler is not considered a threatened species, although numbers are declining due to habitat destruction and pollution. However, numbers usually quickly increase once the habitat has recovered.

Source: picturebirdai.com, wikipedia.nl

The southern lapwing (Vanellus chilensis, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Kivit Sur-Amerikano) is 31cm to 33cm in length and weighs approximately 295g. The top of the birds is mostly brownish grey, with a brown sheen on the shoulders. The bird’s head is grey, but the forehead, throat and breast merging into the head are black. The remaining underside of the birds is mainly white, while the tail is black. The bird’s legs, eye-ring and beak are pink in colour. Apart from mainland South America, this bird has also been found in Trinidad since 1961 and Tobago since 1974. On Bonaire, it occurs as an errant bird. Similar to the lapwing in Europe, this bird breeds on a simple nest, located in grass or on newly ploughed land. The way that they fly and repel predators is also similar to that of the European lapwing. Outside of the breeding season, the southern lapwing mainly stays in wet areas, where it seeks food (mainly insects) at night.

Source: wikipedia.nl

The Venezuelan troepial (Icterus icterus in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Trupial) is a songbird in the icterid family. This icterid is instantly recognisable by its colour: the body is mostly bright orange, while the head, wings and tail are mainly black. This songbird can be recognised from a great distance by its sound. The species is found in Colombia and Venezuela and counts three subspecies, of which one subspecies (Icterus icterus ridgwayi) is also found on the nearby Venezuelan islands, including Bonaire. The icterus does not make its own nest – instead, it uses abandoned nests and takes over existing nests. It chases away the current residents and if there are any eggs, they will eat them first. It breeds from March to September and vigorously defends their nest in the process. This bird is certainly not shy and regularly makes its presence known. It mostly feeds on insects and fruit.

Source: bonbinibonaire.nl, wikipedia.nl

The Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Chogogo) is found on the Caribbean and Galapagos Islands. They live in shallow coastal or inland waters, where they also forage for food. The only visible difference between the two sexes is that males are larger than females. Each leg has four toes with flippers between them, which prevent the birds from sinking into the muddy ground easily. By nature, flamingos are white. They mainly eat small crustaceans and algae. Algae contains carotenoid, which is converted in the flamingo’s body into a pink colour that ends up in its feathers. Bonaire is one of the few breeding grounds of pink flamingos in the world. This bird therefore has a protected status and its habitat and breeding sites are not accessible.

Source: avifauna.nl, bonairetop10.nl, bonbinibonaire.nl, wikipedia.nl

The red ibis (Eudocimus ruber, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Ibis Kòrá) is a distinctive resident bird with bright, orangey-red plumage with black wing tips and a long, curved bill. The plumage is similar in both sexes. The body length is 56cm to 86cm and the bird weighs 775g to 925g. Red ibises find their food mainly by touch, by poking the soft mud with their long bills and swinging back and forth through the water. Their food consists mainly of crabs, shrimps, scampi, shellfish and aquatic insects. This species can be found in the coastal regions of northern South America, including Bonaire, and prefers swamps and mangrove forests. Within mangrove areas, they nest in colonies. Each bird only needs a small space that both partners will defend from neighbours.

Source: wikipedia.nl

The yellow-shouldered amazon (Amazona barbadensis, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Lora) is an Amazon parrot from the parrot family of Africa and the New World. This vulnerable bird species is found in Venezuela and on the nearby islands of Bonaire, Blanquilla and Isla Margarita. The stocky bird has a firm head, rounded wings and a short tail. They fan their tails when they’re excited, causing beautiful colours to emerge. It has prominent narrow ,dark green edges around its feathers, giving the impression that it is scaly. The green breast and belly have a bluish tinge. When in flight, the red mirror on the wing and the dark blue tips of the wing feathers are both visible. Their habitat contains drought-loving vegetation: many cacti, thorny bushes and trees. The lora nests in rock crevices or burrows in trees and large cacti. This bird species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Source: beautiful-bonaire.nl, wikipedia.nl

The magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Maniwá) is a seabird from the frigatebird family. The bird is found in the tropical and subtropical coastal waters of North, Central and South America (including the Caribbean and the Galapagos Islands) and in the Cape Verde Islands. With an impressive wingspan of up to 2.5m, the frigatebird is Bonaire’s largest bird. Yet the animal only weighs about 1.5kg. The birds are usually spotted hovering high above the shoreline. They are shaped like anchors and their tails are long and forked. Males are completely black and have a red throat pouch. They appear purple due to the reflection of the sun on their feathers. Females are also black with a white breast. Their young also have white heads. Fish are its biggest food source. Sometimes, the magnificent frigatebird will attack other seabirds and force them to give up the fish they have caught. Frigatebirds do not land on water and always catch their food while in flight.

Source: hopibonaire.com, wikipedia.nl

The ruby-topaz hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus, in Papiamentu on Bonaire: Blenchi Dòrnasol) is a bird from the hummingbird family. This species can be found between eastern Panama and northern, eastern and central South America and on Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The ruby-topaz hummingbird’s body length is between 8cm and 9cm (including the tail) and its weight is between 3.5g and 5g. Compared to many other hummingbirds, the ruby-topaz hummingbird’s bill is straight and short. The back and upper wing parts of the male are dark brown with a greenish glow. The crown and neck are a glossy red colour, while the throat and breast are orange. The rest of the belly is brown and the chestnut tail has a black tip. The male often looks a very dark colour, until it turns around and the beautiful colours flash in the sunlight. They feed on nectar from various flowers, and occasionally small insects. Ruby-topaz hummingbirds exhibit strong territorial behaviour and chase away anyone and anything that dares to enter their habitat – even humans.

Source: beautiful-bonaire.nl, wikipedia.nl

Issue: Experience nature – Birds on Bonaire
Date of issue: 2 January 2024
Format: sheet of ten stamps in ten different designs, marked with ‘1’, the denomination for post weighing up to and including 20g with destinations in the Netherlands
Item number: 440161
Design: Frank Janse, Gouda
Photography: Dreamstime and Wikimedia Commons (Charles J. Sharp, Mike’s Birds, Stephen J. Jones, Steve Wilson, Wolfartist)

© 2023 Koninklijke PostNL BV

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