Thursday 12 December 2013

HORNBILLS - Great Birds!

I have always had a soft spot for Hornbills, ever since I saw my first wild Hornbill in the Gambia back in 2004. They are just such fantastic looking birds with great character and they have a look of great wisdom about them.

Ghana is a great place for Hornbills too, with at least 12 different species possible. On my recent tour, we saw a respectable 8 species with the highlights by far, being our sightings from the Kakum Forest National Park's Canopy Walkway. There is nothing quite like
walking across the walkway as dawn breaks, suspended 40 metres above the forest floor to the whirring sound of a Rufous-sided Broadbill displaying deep in the forest below you. The calls of Black-casqued Hornbills lure you further along the walkways to the final viewing platform where they put on a great show. Fantastic to watch as they fly around in noisy groups feeding on fruiting trees. These are the real "big boys" of the hornbill world, with huge casques on top of their powerful bills. Nothing quite beats the sight of a mixed flock of Black-casqued and Brown-cheeked Hornbills performing from the walkway at dusk with the distinctive "siren-like" call of a nearby Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo and a troop of Geoffrey's Pied Colobus Monkeys in the near distance - just great!

Piping Hornbill - Commonly encountered in forest edge and more open habitats

Black Dwarf Hornbill - considered the hardest of the hornbills to find in Ghana

Male (below) and Female Black-casqued Hornbills

Female Black-casqued Hornbill

Brown-cheeked Hornbills - an Upper Guinea Forest Endemic

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