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Birding Places of Uganda

Mabamba Wetland

Mabamba wetland is found on Lake Victoria in the area of Masaka, South of Kampala. Apart from Murchison Falls National Park, this is the only place and site where the elusive Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) can be spotted at any one time of the day, approximately 38% of the global population of the Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea), and the globally-threatened Papyrus Yellow Warbler plus other birds of global conservation concern. The Shoebill feeds primarily on lungfish (Protopterus aethipicus), which is also cherished by the local community. Shoebills are regularly recorded in pairs or in threes in the marsh at Nakowogo, about 2 km north east of Mabamba Bay. Mabamba has been surveyed in recent years and now boosts of over 260 bird species with one day’s record of 157 species.

Other bird species to watch out for include: Rey-headed Gull, White Winged Terns, Madagascar Bee-eater, Yellow Billed Egret, Long toed Plover. If you choose to have a walk along the tracks on the main road in search of more birds then you expect to see the Black Crake, African Fish Eagle, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Cape Wagtail, Swamp Flightier, Winding Cisticola, Blue- Breasted Bee- eater, Red Chested Sunbird and many more.

Mabira Forest

Mabira Forest Reserve covers an area of 360 square kilometers with about 300 bird species many of which are difficult to see anywhere else in Uganda, over 200 different kinds of trees, 218 butterfly species with their beautiful color, and 23 different types of mammals, mainly monkeys. The patches of grassland in the valleys and extensive papyrus swamps support a lot of different kinds of birds.

The forest is just an hour’s drive from Kampala city. Managed by the Forestry department with support from the local community, Mabira Forest was opened to the public in 1996.

Key bird species found in the reserve include:- Nathan’s francolin, Cassin’s hawk eagle, Green tailed bristle bill, Grey long bill, Leaf love, Paradise flycatcher, Sooty boubou, Purple-throated cuckoo shrike.

Something unique about the forest is the fact that a large number of birds may be seen from the visitor’s centre. Flowering trees in the clearing attract a variety of sunbirds such as green, Little Olive, Blue throated brown, Green throated, olive bellied and superb sunbirds. Other forest edge species include speckle –breasted Woodpecker, Black throated Apalis, African blue Flycatcher and Grey-crowned Negro finch. Forest Ribon, Snowy headed Robin-Chat, Grey capped warbler, Black and white Flycatcher, Dusky Tit and common Wattle Eye which can be seen around the Campsite.

Entebbe Botanical Gardens

Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe town, the Entebbe Botanical Gardens were established 1901 and it is well maintained as small protected area of 40.7 hectares. The gardens host a variety of open country and woodland species and you can easily spend a pleasant couple of hours here.

The gardens have a collection of species of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones, besides several shrubs and other plants which regenerated naturally over the years. The habitat has attracted a diverse array of birds - 206 species (both forest and shorebirds) and monkeys (recently introduced the Black and White Colubus and Vervet Monkeys). The most common bird species are Ruff, Wood, Common, Marsh Sandpipers, Common Green Shank, Long-tailed and Great Cormorants, Madagascar Bee-eater, Green Crombec, Orange weaver, Golden and Yellow backed weavers, Superb sunbird, Bare faced go-away-bird, Ross's and Great blue Turacos, Grey and Brown Parrots, Palm Swift, Little Swift, Entebbe Weaver (an endemic to Uganda that was recorded at the site only once), White spotted Fluftail etc

Birds of Bwindi Forest National Park

Located in South Western Uganda, Bwindi National Park hosts a high diversity of birds, representing one of the forest's avifauna in Africa. The bird list for the park currently totals 334 species, 67 non-forest-dependent species, and 182 forest-dependent species. Thirteen of these species occur nowhere else in Uganda, seven are not known to occur anywhere else in East Africa, and 17 are known for East Africa only in Bwindi and one or two other East African forests.
Rare species include the spectacular globally threatened endemics like the African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimson wing.

Other bird species include the striking Handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Green tinker bird, Northern Olive Thrush, Blue headed and regal sunbirds, Mountain yellow Warblers, Mountain masked and Chestnut throated apalises, Great Blue and Black billed Turacco, Pink footed puff back, Waller’s starling, Red-chested fluff tail, Lagden’s Bush shrike, etc.

Ruhiija, the central and highest part of the forest, is likely to be one of the highlights of any trip to Uganda with excellent birding in spectacular surroundings. Birds are both plentiful and easy to see; many species associating in mixed feeding flocks that are active throughout the day. An early start offers the best chance of finding the striking handsome Francolin, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, western Green Tinkerbird, Mountain and yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Mountain marked and chestnut-throated Apalises, red-faced woodland Warbler, Rwenzori batis, white-tailed crested Flycatcher and many more.

Birds of Lake Mburo National Park

Located in the central part of the country, Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of all the parks in Uganda covering an area of 260sq Kms. The five lakes within the park attract hippos, crocodiles and a variety of waterbirds, while fringing swamps hide secretive papyrus

The park has about 313 different bird species which include the rare Shoebill stork, White-winged Warblers, Black-billed Barbet, Crested Francolin, Brown Parrot, Red necked Spur, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Temminck’s Courser, common Quails, Greenwood Hoopoe, Blue-napped Mouse bird, Barefaced Go-away bird, African-grey Hornbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Lilac-breasted Roller, Coqui Francolin, Red necked spur fowl, Black Bellied Bustard, African-wattled Plover Rufous napped and Flappet larks, Rufous chested Swallow , Southern Red Bishop and Yellow-throated Long claw among others. The fringing swamps in the park also hide secretive papyrus specialists such as the red, black and yellow papyrus gonalek.

Birds of Kibale forest and Bigodi

The 795 sq Km Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. There are 325 bird species found in the park including 6 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region, namely black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis, dusky crimsonwing, purple-breasted sunbird and red-faced woodland warbler. Other Kibale specials include the African pitta, green breasted pitta, black bee-eater, yellow spotted nicator, yellow rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brownchested alethe, blue-breasted kingfisher, Abyssinian groundthrush, and the crowned eagle.

Birding can also be done in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary that is found some 5 km from the Kibale Forest National Park on the road to Kamwenge.

Birding is a major activity around the swamp with paths cut and areas of the swamp board walked to give access to areas of the swamp that would be otherwise inaccessible. Several tree houses have also been constructed to give vantage over the swamp. Specialities for Bigodi include Great Blue Turaco, Black Billed Turaco and White Spotted Crake.

Semiliki National Park

Semiliki National Park is an extension of the Congo Ituri rainforest set at the base of the Northern Rwenzori, covering an area of 220 sq km of lowland forest on Lake Albert.

The park is comprised of 40 congolese bird species recorded nowhere else in the country.

Other bird species include: Congo serpent eagle, Rail (Nkulengu & Grey throated), Spot breasted ibis, Yellow throated nicator, Red rumped tinker bird, Black winged oriole, Horn bills (Black dwarf, Red billed ,Piping, White crested, White thighed ,Black casqued wattle), Western bronze napped pigeon, Capuchin babbler, White bellied king fisher, Black collared love bird, Zenkers honey guide.

Nearby, is the spectacular Semliki Wildlife Reserve, which is one of the best localities for sightings of the enigmatic, swamp-dwelling shoebill.

Birds of Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is located in Kabale district south western Uganda and was formed due to lava damming, blocking the outlet river by volcanic eruption hence forming the lake, the deepest in Africa. The word Bunyonyi means “place of little birds”. Its 200 species of birds are found both on main land and on the islands. There are 29 islands with the biggest being Bwama Island, which is popularly known as” lepers colony”, and the smallest the “punishment island”, where the Bakiga used to drop unmarried girls who got pregnant before marriage to die of hunger. The lake is free from bilharzias, no hippos and crocodile are present, only otters which are not dangerous.

This is the list of common birds of Lake Bunyonyi: Pied kingfisher, Malachite kingfisher, Cinnamon chested bee eater, Bronzy sun bird, Knobed coot. Very rara, Pied wagtail, Black clake, Common stone chat, Grey shrike, Grey crowned crested crane, Hadada ibis, Swamp fly catcher, Black heron, Great commrant, Fan tailed widow bird, Streaky seed eater, Speckled mouse bird, Pin tailed whyder, Bronze manikin, Black headed weaver.

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