"Sir, there have been sightings of Great Pied hornbills around my home", said Ajith. He was excited. I mean why not? who wouldnt be thrilled to see such colorful large birds from close vicinity..!? He continued, "Sir, can you make it to Amara?". I did not hesitate in saying Yes to his offer and packed my bags to leave to the land of Hornbills.
I decided to drive the whole night in order to reach Dandeli by morning. I couldnt wait to take the glimpse of large billed birds hogging on fruits.
I finally managed to reach Amara by 7 in the morning. It was a foggy morning and the light was bit low. Thick fog embarked the forest. It looked as if the forests is covered by ash and not green. Ajith took me to the place where the Hornbill were seen. For the next couple of hours I kept looking at the fog and nothing else. As the mist started clearing what began was pure-- "Hornbill saga".
Although thick forests of Dandeli hosts pretty birds and animals, what attracts the most are the flagship species of this area. All 4 types of hornbills, ie Indian Grey Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Pied Hornbill and Great Pied Hornbill can be found here in abundance.
Hornbills main diet are the figs. They are excellent in spotting fruiting trees and can cover close to 40 trees a day, making them a very good agent of seed dispersal. The forests of Dandeli-Anshi is very good with fig trees which perhaps is the reason for growing hornbill population around Dandeli.
The place which Ajith took me had atleast 3 fruiting trees with abundant fruits. That was the main reason for hornbills to visit his neighborhood. The sun started brightening the place. The activity had just begun..! It all started with 2 or 3 pied hornbills, slowly it increased to 10, then 20 and then to 40. I was awestruck looking at the number of Pied hornbills increasing..!