Monday, 5 December 2011

Herons of the Reef - Vanuatu

Vanuatu Post has released the heron stamp series, features Reef Heron  or Ardea (Egretta) sacra on February 07, 2007. Sometime call as Pacific Reef heron.
This issued stamp is represented in miniature sheet, consist of 5 postage stamps which depicts its life since the chicks till adult.


The species displays an unusual, non-sexual dimorphism, with some members having entirely white plumage and others (the larger portion) being charcoal-grey. The reason for the color variation or "morph," is unknown, though it is most commonly thought to be related to camouflage.


Herons of the Reef interestingly seen in two different color phases in Vanuatu :
1. The white form has pure white plumage and yellow/brown/olive face, bill and legs. The white form is the more rare version of the two types
2. The dark form is slate-grey to brownish-black with a thin white stripe on the throat.


They inhabit rocky coasts and reefs but are also found around sea cliffs, mangroves and mud flats. They are found alone or in pairs and are strongly territorial in defending their foraging areas. 

van200703lThey feed mainly at the intertidal zone (sometimes at night) and take small crabs, crustaceans, and small fish as well as frogs, lizards and insects.


The nesting season is usually February to July and the adults nest in coastal trees as well as in bushes on the rocky shore and on the ground.

The nest is made of sticks and twigs and often becomes bulky over a number of years. two or three pale blue eggs are laid and the chicks are sparsely covered with down. Fledging takes around 5-6 weeks. The heron grows in length to around 50cm.The adult have a wingspan of between 90 and 110 centimeters and reach an average weight of 400 grams.

van200701lThe heron  is widespread throughout the Pacific but is found mainly on the western seaboard from Japan to Burma, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

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