Picture perfect Tanya Achilleos Lock
Picture perfect Tanya Achilleos Lock

Return of the osprey gets a stamp of approval

A celebration of the return to Scotland of the osprey is being marked in the form of a new stamp.

The bird became extinct in the British Isles in 1916, but recolonised in 1954 and can primarily be found in Scotland.

It is celebrated in a new series of Royal Mail stamps by award winning artist Tanya Achilleos Lock, which mark ‘reintroduced species’ to Britain’s great outdoors.

Tanya, who was BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2012 and 2013 winning the Frozen Planet, World Birds and Animals in their Environment sections, said: ‘It’s remarkable to think that scientists and conservationists have been able to reintroduce extinct species into areas of the UK.

Picture perfect Tanya Achilleos Lock

‘The stamps feature the Large Blue Butterfly, the Osprey, Eurasian Beaver, Pool Frog, Stinking Hawk’s Beard and the Sand Lizard.’

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution. The subspecies Pandion haliaetus haliaetus is native to Eurasia and is found in the British Isles, where it is a scarce breeder primarily in Northumberland and Scotland with smaller numbers in England and Wales. It became extinct in the British Isles in 1916, but recolonised in 1954.

Other animals to feature in the series are:

The Large Blue Butterfly. The species was first defined in 1758 and first recorded in Britain in 1795. In 1979 the species became extinct in Britain but has been successfully reintroduced with new conservation methods in Somerset. Currently large blue is classified as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Today they can be found in Europe, the Caucasus, Armenia, western Siberia, Altai, north-western Kazakhstan and Sichuan.

The Eurasian beaver or European beaver (Castor fiber) is a species of beaver which was once widespread in Eurasia. It was hunted to near-extinction for both its fur and castoreum; and by 1900, only 1200 beavers survived in eight relict populations in Europe and Asia.

The new series of stamps

The pool frog is a European frog. It is one of only four amphibian species recognized by the UK government as protected under its Biodiversity Action Plan. The reasons for declining populations are decreased pond habitat from human encroachment and also air pollution leading to over-nitrification of pond waters. Its specific name was chosen by the Italian herpetologist Lorenzo Camerano in order to honour his master Michele Lessona.

Stinking Hawk’s Beard – C. foetida is now only known as an established population from Dungeness (East Kent). It became extinct there in 1980, but following its re-introduction in 1992 a new population has been established in a shingle-heath community. The reasons for its extinction are unclear, though biotic factors may have been significant as rabbits seem partial to it. The Dungeness plant is subsp. foetida; the rare casual records may be referable to the C. and S.E. European subsp. commutata or to subsp. rhoeadifolia.

Sand lizards are a particularly rare and protected species in southern Britain. They’re found only in parts of southern heathland in Wales, Devon, Cornwall and Kent. In mainland Europe, however, sand lizards can be found in many more places including fields and woodland, parks and gardens.

Find out more about Tanya’s work HERE.