September 12, 2015

1889 UNITED KINGDOM (Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha) - Wideawake Tern in Ascension Island

Located in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, at around 1,600km from the coast of Africa and 2,250km from the coast of Brazil, the isolated Ascension Island is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. A volcanic peak rising from only 100km west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, much of the island is a wasteland of lava flows and cinder cones, inhabited by 880 people.

The  wildlife on Ascension is not comparable to what can be seen on an African Safari, but however it exists. Before people settled here, the island served as a natural haven for sea birds. Surrounded by an ocean rich in marine life, Ascension was the perfect breeding and feeding ground for countless birds. The introduction of cats and rats saw a massive decline in sea bird numbers on the island, and all except the Sooty Terns, deserted the main island and bred exclusively on the neighboring Boatswain Bird Island.

The sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) is a bird of the tropical oceans. Colloquially, it is known as the wideawake tern or just wideawake. This refers to the incessant calls produced by a colony of these birds, as does the Hawaiian name ʻewa ʻewa which roughly means "cacophony". This is a large tern; the wings and deeply forked tail are long, and it has dark black upperparts and white underparts, and black legs and bill. It nests in a ground scrape or hole and lays one to three eggs. It feeds by picking fish from the surface in marine environments, often in large flocks, and rarely comes to land except to breed.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of series issued on June 15, 2015, to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

Ascension Island - Wikipedia

Sent from Georgetown (Ascension Island / Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha / United Kingdom), on 19.08.2014

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