The Piping Hornbill, Bycanistes fistulator, has been evading me for 10 years. It can be found in western and central Africa with a distribution correlating with the Guinean and Congolean biogeographical regions.
For me and my birding opportunities, this means Accra in Ghana. Operational changes at my airline have moved routes around onto different fleets, leaving me on the fleet that now has only one African destination. Sad, but there you go. Still, if you find yourself with the chance to visit Ghana, grab it forcefully. The people are cheery and friendly and the bird life is superb.
Most pertinent to today’s post is the Piping Hornbill which I have been closely missing for a long time. I had to deny myself one that I thought I had seen, but later realised that I had not adequately identified it on account of being cold, wet, tired and lazy. But at the end of last year, I eventually confirmed one in the University of Ghana, Botanic Gardens, Accra.
The gardens are home to at least 4 species of hornbill and the African Grey Hornbill, is always very obvious and vocal. Today was no different and I had to look beyond the greys to find my target bird of the day.
Once I found one, it seemed that there were dozens of them.
They were quite approachable as they fed in small flocks from fruiting trees and kept up a chorus of distinctive contact calls.
Their bills look gnarled and cumbersome, but they used them dexterously (there must be a better word that is more applicable to bills) to pluck fruit, then toss and catch to swallow it.