This is a seriously cool hornbill (please excuse the fanboy language). In all honesty, this a tough bird to see well. They are not particularly shy, they simply spend time in areas where people are not all that common. They prefer more arid environments (which are usually low in population density) but they also require rocky outcroppings and cliffs to roost and nest. This combination of ecological and environmental features is rather rare which is why their range in East Africa is restricted to certain parts of Kenya and eastern Uganda (near Mount Elgon). Perhaps the best viewing chance is at Lake Baringo but even there, you are not guaranteed a sighting. Your best bet is to wake up early and catch them leaving the cliffs as they descend to the lake when temperatures rise. If you miss this window the opposite is good: catching them when they return to the cliffs from the lake in the evening. This also makes for a great sundowner. A lake sighting is rare given that they don’t often perch on the trees at the water’s edge but are set back a bit.
The Hemprich’s hornbill is a rather large bird at about 23 inches and the deep chocolate coloring with the white rimmed tail is a pretty good give-away. If you see a large swooping hornbill in desertish locations with scattered rocky landscapes, you’ve probably spotted this beauty. Another giveaway is the dark maroon to burnt amber bill.
*Call and map from xeno-canto.org