Last week was a crazy one. I found myself ringing various people up with the opening line "You won't believe this.."
It started off with Janine texting from Africa - "We're just off to see Dulas". This despite initially thinking they would not have enough time in their itinerary to venture that far up the Gambia River to where he was. This was first thing Monday morning, January 16th. The messages from Africa got more desperate as the day grew long - by nightfall, and despite around a dozen pairs of eyes searching high and low throughout the day in the exact area Dulas has been in for the last three months, he could not be found. Janine will write the next blog about her African trip.
Around about the same time Roy Dennis emailed me from Scotland. Rolf Wahl, who has been studying and recording ospreys in the Orleans Forest just south of Paris since 1995, had received a photograph from Senegal of an osprey with a transmitter and a ring on his right leg. It wasn't one of Rolf's but Roy knew who it was straight away - it was Einion!
Osprey with Blue DH leg ring and transmitter - it's Einion © Arnault Vatinel
Rolf tells me that the photographer, Arnaut, speaks no English but has been looking at our website and has been enthralled. Well, Arnout, if your reading this..'Merci beaucoup pour la photo - il est merveilleux'. A picture is worth a thousand words, how incredible to get these images of Einion looking well and healthy. They were taken in the Somone Reserve, Senegal where Einion now resides on 15th January, 2012.
Another angle of Einion carrying a half eaten fish © Arnault Vatinel
A few days later, Roy emails again - he's been sent another photo taken just a day earlier, January 14th, only this time from Gambia. Same story, Blue leg ring and a transmitter. The email was from Brenda Cook who was on holiday with a friend bird watching in the Gambia - she sent me a report of her holiday - here's the bit about the photograph..
"We set off on Saturday 14th January along the North Bank road. We stopped to bird watch with Ansu at various wetland sites along the way. One of these was at Panchang. Here we spotted an Osprey and were excited to see it had a Satellite transmitter on its back. We continued to watch it through our binoculars trying to read the numbers on its plastic ring, but it was impossible. In the excitement of the moment it suddenly dawned on me it would be a good idea to take a photo, but by then the Osprey was beginning to fly away. My camera does not have a very long lens and so the photo is quite distant, but when one enlarges it the transmitter can be seen."
Here's the photograph Brenda took in Panchang on January 14th, transmitter clearly visable. It's Dulas! © Brenda Cook
I've checked on Google Earth and indeed Dulas was in Panchang that afternoon when the photograph was taken, January 14th. In fact, Dulas has been in this general area since the beginning of October when he completed his migration from Wales.
Now the incredible bit. Janine and the Rutland guys got to Panchang on January 16th where they looked for Dulas all day with no luck. Now the data has come in for Dulas we know exactly where he was - 24 hours earlier he had decided to move on, and flew south to Guinea-Bissau, over 100 miles away. Dulas had stayed around Panchang for three and a half months only to up-sticks just hours before Janine got there. Absolutely gutted.
As I write the next batch of data is coming in for Dulas - It looks like he's ventured even further south into Guinea, around 200 miles south of Panchang and the Gambia River. Google Earth will be updated as soon as all the data points are in. I hope this week turns out to be a little bit calmer!
Thanks to Rolf, Roy, Brenda and Arnault for kindly sharing their information and images so quickly. Imagine how long all this would have taken before e-mails, digital cameras and Google Earth!