Stamp of approval for bird centre

SUFFOLK's premier bird sanctuary has been given the stamp of approval -one of its beautiful rescued kestrels is to feature in a series of stunning new Royal Mail stamps.

SUFFOLK's premier bird sanctuary has been given the stamp of approval -one of its beautiful rescued kestrels is to feature in a series of stunning new Royal Mail stamps.

Three-year-old Bramble, owned by head warden Julie Finnis, will be featured in flight as part of the series of new stamps on sale later this month.

Mrs Finnis, of the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at the Stonham Barns leisure complex near Stowmarket, was approached by the post office who wanted to feature a kestrel. Her chestnut and grey kestrel spent a day being photographed in Surrey for the stamps.

Mrs Finnis, from Redgrave near Diss, said: "I was really pleased to be asked, but did not know what to expect. Bramble was photographed in a studio and I had to get him to fly back and forth which he did, over and over again.

"I did not think he would be able to fly for so long, but he kept going throughout the day. He was perfectly well behaved.

"With a bird like a kestrel you can never guarantee what they will do, they are essentially a wild bird, never tamed like cats or dogs.

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"He looked good and performed well and the stamps are quite stunning. Bramble is shown on six stamps I think, in flight with his wings in different positions. The stamps look wonderful.''

The stamps also feature a Barn owl from a sanctuary in Epping, in different stages of flight on a number of stamps.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "Royal Mail takes to the air to launch its 2003 special stamp programme with stunning images of two of Britain's most recognisable birds of prey.

"Birds remain the most popular thematic with collectors and Birds of Prey, issued on January 14, will not disappoint. Birds of Prey features a block of ten 1st class stamps in two rows of five.

"The difficult task of capturing the birds in flight as a sequence of still frames was left to Stephen Dalton, one of the world's best exponents of multi-flash animal photography and a world class bird photographer."

During the summer months, Bramble is based at the Stonham Barns owl sanctuary, home to a variety of birds of prey, and at Mrs Finnis' home for the rest of the year.

The new set of stamps are released by the Royal Mail on January 14.

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