Bills, Bills, Bills

One fine morning, I was taking walk down my old man’s farm. I wasn’t exactly intent on birding that day-just looking for a nook where I could catch up with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I found it in the far end of the farm which has a series of undulating small valleys. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise. Just near the spot where I was seated stood a tree with a dug out stem that looked quite comfy. Therein, two southern ground horn-bills flew and snuggled without making a sound. I sat there transfixed on the pair. The male popped out its head and glanced my way. I did not move a muscle lest I startled it. I do not think the female was aware of my presence. After a while the male returned to its mate and snuggled next to it. I did not look at the time but I bet they sat still for twenty minutes or so before flying off. Of course by then, I had noiselessly taken a snapshot and gotten back to my reading. Somehow, the reading was more pleasant with the big fellows around.


Spotted in Cherangany hills, Kenya


Another day, in the same “happy valleys”, I spotted a flock of black and white–casqued horn-bills flying over head. Their black outer primaries and white outer tail feathers, seen properly while in flight, are a beauty to behold. I hoped that they would perch on one of the trees in the farm but they flew off to a nearby river. I could hear their calls which were pretty loud. I could have gone after them. However, in the short time that I have watched birds, I have realized it is much more satisfying if they come to you. Of course, wisdom has it that you place yourself in such a position that they might just do that. Hence, that evening I took a stroll down River Chepkaitit (Kalenjin for cold waters). At the banks, I saw a pair of grey-crowned cranes feeding. I smiled, knowing that they must be the pair that visits the cowshed at the farm from time to time. A few minutes later, I heard the unmistakable call of a lone horn-bill nearby. I followed it and there it was perched high up on a tree. I studied its beak for some time, thinking to myself it why the odd shape. Two snapshots, and I sat back studying its design. Not the cutest but I was sure it must serve some purpose. I plan to do some research on this later on. For now, I give you the black and white casqued-hornbill! Big round of applause!

Spotted in Cherangany hills, Kenya


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