Violet Turaco

Violet Turaco

Happy holiday to me! I’m not a holiday buff: I prefer to keep busy, but I do appreciate a good escape from routine and drudgery. Last Tuesday was good. A Muslim holiday here in Ghana, and instead of facebooking and assessing highly plagiarised essays all day at the department, I planned a birding outing with Kofi.

Then Franziska came and the team was complete. It was always meant to be a good holiday. Birding in the morning at the University of Ghana’s botanical gardens, looking for the African Grey Hornbill and its nests, and then a walk in the evening with what I might permissibly consider a new friend. Plus birding, of course. Turned down. Life goes on, and it did!

Okay, I’ll confess I also planned to finish an essay between, very against the spirit of holiday, but it didn’t happen so relax. Actually there was worse work to do eventually: Creating a Windows 7 USB startup drive and installing on a laptop, then recovering the grub menu Ubuntu put in the now invaded MBR, and then having to fix a non responsive mouse after reinstall. But it was fun!

Okay so the birding: we went in search for the African Grey Hornbill (right).

African Grey Hornbill

African Grey Hornbill

I got to campus at 6:30, despite my bluff to arrive before six. Franziska was waiting: German alacrity and organisation at its best, I’d say. Kofi was the tardiest, but we still began early. It took a while to register our first, but by the time we’d rounded up the garden, we’d counted a few. Noting perpendicular distances can be a tricky thing, but I’m sure we’ll mature.

Franziska took the liberty to familiarize herself with the feathered ones: green wood hoopoes, red-eyed doves, western grey plantain eaters, senegal parrots, and hey, we saw a Shikra! It just perched and stared, and boy did we stare back? But the icing on the sweet cake that morning was when our search for nests yielded nothing but a suggestion from yours truly to visit another area of the garden to conclude the search.

There, while we inspected trunks and branches and cranked our necks upward like cranes, there, in the canopy, there, above our heads, was the Violet Turaco!

I have only once before been told about this bird, in the Northern Region, while doing some bird research for the Ghana Wildlife Society. I never saw the bird, though. But here I was, I looked up, and something blackish and bigish suddenly went whish-whish in the tree, and I spotted it! It was great, and I thought I’d share it with you all.


Like I said, we also saw a Shikra, and ID’ing it with the field guide was a special thing. Raptors riddle me sometime, so that was a good one.














Photo Credits


Violet Turaco:

African Grey Hornbill: