Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 31/07/2011

These Boot Were Made For Walking….

… and that’s just what they’ll do. The Southern Ground Hornbill, the largest of the Hornbill family, can be found throughout Southern Africa though with the encroachment of man, it’s now more concentrated in the Nature Reserves that are dotted around each of the countries that go to make this large land mass.

I was overjoyed to see this bird whilst on Safari in Kenya; I’ve seen it (not this specific bird of course) in Zoos around the world and they’ve held some fascination for me. I particularly like the contrast of their dark as night plumage with the scarlet colouration of the skin around it’s eye and throat and they have eye lashes that even Super Models would give their eye teeth for.

That’s not the reason why I wanted to see one, and having asked the manager of the camp where we were staying, whether this was likely I was rather disappointed to be told that it was unlikely as they were not as common as they used to be. Whilst making our way back to camp after having got up close and person with Leopard I’ve already blogged about our Guide, a revered Masai Warrior, nonchalantly told us as we relaxed back in our seats in our 4×4 that there were a group of three Ground Hornbills to our left. No sooner had those words penetrated my brain then I was up shouting “stop the jeep, stop the jeep”. Obligingly, but slightly bemused, the driver came to a halt and I reveled in the ten minutes or so we had photographing the three birds as they walked around (they don’t fly much) getting closer to our vehicle, totally unconcerned by our presence.

After a very satisfying photo session I then had to admit why I had been so excited when our Guide had spotted them – they’re not on every one’s list of things to see after all. My boy had seen one of these birds prior to my trip whilst on a visit to a zoo (he really does have to endure some dreadful days out!!) and pointed out that it was from Kenya, telling me I would then know what they were when we spotted them. The most amazing bit was being able to text back from the middle of the Mara to say I had just seen one!! Odd thing is I can’t get a good signal in my office (perhaps it’s all that lead I’ve encase my office in).



  1. I loved the second photo in the series (up close of the face with the slight pink background).

  2. Some lovely shots of a pretty strange looking bird Andrew, you are very lucky to be able to get these opportunities, but I’m sure you work very hard to earn them. And, I must say your work gives so much pleasure to so many people – 3,000 plus contacts on Flickr? I hope they don’t all contact you at once!!
    Once again, thanks for sharing your superb pic.

    (currently sitting in a caravan on a wet Sunday in God’s Kite Country, listen to a loud mouthed Peahen shouting her beak off).

  3. wow those are amazing pictures. Very well shot.

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