Today Einion is eight months old exactly. He was the first osprey chick to scramble out of an osprey egg in 400 years on the Dyfi, mid-Wales. His short life so far has been quite eventful - after hatching on June 5th he was ringed and satellite tagged 44 days later on July 19th. At 52 days old he flew for the first time and five weeks exactly after fledging his nest, he set off on migration at the age of 87 days.
Einion just moments before he flew for the first time - July 27th, 2011
On the morning of August 31st, Einion set off from mid Wales and by tea time he had reached Plymouth. The following day he was in Brittany and the next, northern Spain. After a week he had made it to sunny Gibraltar and two days later he was in Morocco where he stayed for over two weeks, mid way between Casablanca and Marrakech. Four weeks after setting off from Wales he had reached Senegal - September 29th, and he's still there.
Six weeks after Einion had started his migration he stumbled upon the Somone Lagoon Reserve on October 5th - a restored wetland which is maintained by the local community, he is still there now. This is where Roy Dennis caught up with him last November with the BBC's Autumnwatch team. Roy didn't manage to get close up views but a local photographer did - just three weeks ago (see 'You Won't Believe This' blog). Below is another shot from the series of images that Arnault Vatinel photographed that day..
Einion in Somone, Senegal. January 15th, 2012. © Arnault Vatinal
What can we tell from this image? Einion looks in good condition, he seems to be fishing well, his leg ring (Blue DH) is still in place and his feathers look tatty. This is quite normal for first winter ospreys - his feathers have gone through a full growing cycle, (all at once of course - the only time this will happen), a 3,500 mile migration in searing heat, and have taken all the punishment that an un-experienced osprey will throw at them. Older, experienced ospreys will successfully catch a fish every three or four diving attempts. For young birds this success ratio is more like one in 10. Einion has probably dived into water is search of prey over 1,000 times in the five months of his life since Monty gave him his last free lunch at the Dyfi - that's a lot of wear and tear on his feathers.
The good news is that he won't need to make another long migration for another year, in which time every single feather on his body will have been replaced by new ones. In fact, there is evidence that this moult is already starting to happen - have a look at P3, that's Primary feather number three (or counting eight feathers inwards from the outermost 'finger' feather at the tip of the wing, there are 10 primary feathers on each wing). Both left and right P3 feathers seem to be replacements and this is a text-book osprey moulting pattern - the next to moult will be P4 then P5 and so on until all the primaries are replaced.
Einion will see a big change soon. The vast majority of his species will suddenly disappear in the next few days and weeks as they depart Africa to travel back to Europe to breed. This will mean less competition for fish and perching places for him - one more reason hopefully to be a little bit more optimistic for our boy in Senegal. If your new to the website and would like to see a video of Einion hatching on that memorable day last June - you can find it in this 'The Magic Day' blog.