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Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 24, pp10-11 (Oct 1986).
1986 has seen further issues on this popular subject from both the French and Spanish post Offices.
Firstly, on April 10th, 1986 the Spanish Office issued a 30pta single item in multicolour photogravure, showing specimens of the mushroom Marasmius oreades . It was printed as usual in Madrid by the F.N.M.T with an issue of 450,000.
This fungus is a most interesting member of the Agaric family, commonly known as the "fairy ring champignon". Many agarics grow in a circular pattern, but only this one specific type grows in clearly zoned rings. This is in the form of a small central zone of normal vegetation, on the outside of which is a ring of green, actively growing grass. Outside this is another ring of brown or dead vegetation, and the outmost zone appears as a ring of extra lush grass - it is in this ring that the fruit bodies of the fungus appear to give this ring pattern or "fairy ring". The circles keep gradually extending each season and their appearance has given rise, over the years, to many folklore tales and legends.
The fruit bodies themselves (that is the characteristic mushroom heads) have a cap between 25 and 60mm across, with a stem 5 to 9mm wide and between 30 to 80mm in length. These stems can be either straight or bent and twisting. The cap is of a pinkish tan, somewhat browner in the centre, whilst the stem is pale buff coloured and very tough. This agaric is fairly common from May to October on lawns and grass verges.
This particular species of Marasmius has another unusual character: even if the fruiting body is completely dried out by the heat of the sun or persistent wind, it has the capability to revive completely once moistened, and this feature helps very considerably with identification of the precise species.
The French contribution consisted of a pair of stamps issued in the general "Europa CEPT" series bn 5th May. 1986 (3rd May for FDC's). Both were designed and engraved by Marie-Noelle Goffin.
The 2f20 stamp shows a view of Ansalonga village. This small hamlet is some two kilometres north of Ordino in the valley of the Valira del Norte. The village is on the road through the valley northwards to La Cortinada, Llorts and El Serrat, and lies at the foot of the western slopes of the pic Casamanya. In former times several very well known and wealthy Andorran natives lived in this region, and even now some traces of the old iron forges can still be found. These were originally operated by the Rossell and the Areny Plandolit families. The whole valley is most attractive and is in no way as developed commercially as the centres along the main Valira valley.
The other stamp of the pair is the 3f20 showing chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). The chamois (or izard) has been used as a subject twice before by the French Office. The first time being the 100f "classic" Air stamp of 1950, and the second being one of the Nature protection pair issued in 1979. The isard was described in detail in the Valira Torrent, bulletin no.11, page 2.
For new readers, the animal is a goat-like creature confined to the mountains. They are very shy and both sexes are similar, having small erect horns with a sharp, backward pointing hook at the tip, and a bold black and white pattern to the head. The coat is light brown in the summer, changing to dark brown in the winter. They are found only in the mountains of the southern half of mainland Europe. They live in small communities around the tree-line, but moving up to the higher slopes in the summer. The animals become more gregarious and link up to form herds of up to a hundred in the winter. The mature males normally live alone but join the groups during the rutting season - in the late autumn or early winter. The young are born singly in the spring. They make a characteristic "sharp whistle" when alarmed and, when young, bleat very much like a goat. Chamois feed on a wide variety of vegetation , mostly in the morning and late afternoon. Full grown animals average about 120cm long (head and body) and about 75cm to shoulder height.
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