We’re having another two days of sun and spring-like weather here–as a measure of just how bad I’ve been craving being outside, you only need to look at my sunburned arms and face after yesterday’s birdwatching expedition! Laura has been learning about birds in school so we headed over to the beach to check out the sea birds. I’m afraid my birdwatching skills are limited and we won’t even touch the identification part. Judging by our walk, she’s better informed than I am at this point. Luckily for me, the French Post recently came out with a stamp sheet dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), the main bird conservation group in France. I can now identify three new birds! The puffin doesn’t need an introduction! It’s a symbol of the LPO’s success that I can write that last line–in 1912, when it was founded, one of the organization’s first battles was to stop the slaughter of puffins on the Sept-Iles off the Breton coast.
Today, among its many projects dedicated to preserving birds and their habitats, the LPO looks after the Sept-Iles, now a national seabird sanctuary home to many puffins. (You can read more about the sanctuary in my post here.) In keeping with the ecological/environmental theme of the sheet, the stamps are all “Green” stamps (Lettre verte, currently 0.57€ for a 20g envelope). Available for domestic use, letters and postcards sent using green stamps take 2 days on average to arrive. Priority mail, currently 0.60€, is supposed to arrive the next day. In addition, Lettre verte envelopes are not sent by air further reducing their environmental impact. That said, my personal experience with the Post is that most of my postcards to friends here in France take 3-4 days to arrive regardless of which stamps I use!
As a side note, since we’re dealing with the environment and bird protection today, Jean-Jacques Audubon (1785-1851), or John James if you prefer English, grew up outside of Nantes. He spent hours birdwatching and drawing in the nearby marshes before moving to America. While he doesn’t enjoy the same name recognition in France as in the United States, Audubon is at least locally known. The Marais Audubon in Couëron near Nantes is named after him. Most Americans know his name thanks to another bird protection organization, The Audubon Society. Audubon’s Birds of America complete with 435 life-size prints remains a reference by which wildlife artists are still judged. While Audubon didn’t found the organization that bears his name, one of the society’s founders was tutored by his widow and knew of Audubon’s reputation. Today, Audubon’s legacy includes not only his drawings and work dedicated to identifying American birds, but also to have inspired an organization dedicated to keeping those birds alive. We owe a debt to both the Audubon Society and the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux for keeping watch over such beautiful creatures and their habitats!