The great Great Hornbill! If there is anything like a one-species trip this was it. A worthwhile species by all means, the Great Hornbill has remained elusive for a while. I have seen it several times in the western ghats and in the North East but conditions were far from ideal for photography. In fact, earlier this year, I photographed a hornbill family in pouring rain in Karian shola. But the images weren’t particularly satisfying. So when I heard from Shankar Raman of NCF about a hornbill roosting site near Valparai I jumped at the opportunity and was off the following weekend.
I spent two sessions searching for the hornbills – one at dusk and the other the following dawn. Conditions were very misty / cloudy plus the hornbills were far away across the valley. It was late in the morning that the mist finally lifted and I could shoot them in good light. The light had actually become harsh by then! Because of the topography of the area, it was almost impossible to shoot the birds when perched but was fairly simple to get them in flight as they kept crossing the valley back and forth. Of course, since there is technically no such thing as a one-species trip, I covered a few more species while searching for the hornbills! Overall, it was an incredible sight watching the hornbills (as much as fifty together during roosting!) and it is comforting that there are still areas where these birds thrive in good number. Hope you enjoy the images! Cheers, –r@mki Bangalore | December 2006