Birding Uganda: Uganda, the bird watchers’ Paradise: Birding Journeys in Uganda offered at best.
Uganda is known as birders paradise with over 1060 species and is graded among the richest countries in the world in terms of bird species. The country’s check list is more than half the total species recorded in Africa and has more birds per square kilometer than any African country hence making it the richest African birding destination.
This is due to the strategic location of the country, Uganda lies within Tropical Africa and is crossed by the equator. There is the Africa’s largest fresh water lake (Victoria) in the southern direction of the country, which has fringing territories of wetlands, forest and papyrus swamps which are best homes for bird. To the western border, Uganda is found within the Albertine rift valley which is an Endemic Bird Area. Uganda has over 25 Albertine endemic species some of which are comprehensively in danger.
One can spot out roughly abo 300 different bird species in a single day while you’re within the surroundings of Kampala. This due to the nearly richly diverse of habitats of the shores of Lake Victoria, the lush forest of Albertine rift valley and the banks of the River Nile.
Among the few birds that can be viewed here in Uganda includes, Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, the elusive shoebill, Common Squacco Heron,
,House Sparrow which is nomadic, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Olivaceous Warbler, Rwenzori Batis, Strip-breasted Tit Mosque Swallow (monteiri race), Ruppell’s Long-tailed Sterling, Weyn’s Weaver, White-shouldered Tit, Sand Martin, Brown Snake-Eagle, Eurasian Hobby, Grey-headed Kingfisher Grosbeak Weaver, Black Headed Gonolek, White-faced Whistling-duck, Blue-headed Causal, Fork-tailed Drongo and Feral Pigeon.
The list also has Flappet Lark, Long-Crested Eagle, Stripped Kingfisher, Common Stonechat, Common Greenshank, Little bee-eater, Whinchat, Grey Wagtail, papyrus gololek Great Blue Turaco, White-browed Coucal, Grassland Pipit, Orange Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Black-headed weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Grey-Headed Sparrow, Spur-winged Lapwing and Yellow Wagtail.
Others are the African Pied Wagtail, Pied King Fisher, , Yellow Billed Stork, Tawny Eagle, Carruther’s Cisticola, Ross’s Turaco, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Ashy Flycatcher, Rufous-napped Lark, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Fulvous Whistling-duck, Goliath Heron, Slender-billed Gull, Spur-winged Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, African Marsh Harrier, Violet-backed Sterling, and so many others.
Top 10 birding destinations in Uganda
Murchison Falls National Park
This is one of the oldest and largest national parks; the park was baptized after the mighty Murchison Falls which is known to be the world’s largest and longest waterfalls formed as the Nile is forced through a 7-metre gorge. The park is inhabits to over 450 bird species and bird watching is commonly done on boat cruises at the bottom of the water fall, during the game drives and nature walks. A diversity of bird homes exist in the national park, forests, swamps, riverine woodland, Savannah and plains of acacia trees. During such amazing activities ,look out for the elusive shoebill, swamp flycatcher, Goliath heron, Abyssinian ground horn-bill, northern red bishop, red-throated bee-eater, African quail finch, pied, malachite and giant kingfishers. Game drives, boat cruises and nature walks will give you a great opportunity to spot out a number of birds.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
This is also another birder’s sanctuary with over 600 bird species. The birds can be easily spotted out, expect to take beautiful photos as you walk around the park and its various surroundings. Birding here is also done during the game drives, boat cruises on Kazinga channel,during the nature walks, birds can also be vied during chimps tracking in Kyambura gorge. some of the birds that t can be sighted out include African mourning dove, swamp flycatcher, grey-headed kingfisher, African skimmer, malachite and pied kingfishers, white-winged terns, grey-capped warbler, collared pratincole, pin-tailed whydah, martial eagle, Gabon and slender-tailed night-jars, black-headed gonolek, Verreaux’s eagle-owl, sedge warbler, papyrus canary, great white and pink-backed pelicans, African mourning dove and yellow-billed stork. Also look out for the flamingos at the salt lakes of Katwe and Bunyampaka and very many others.
Budongo Forest Reserve.
Budongo Forest Reserve is found within Murchison falls national park and is comprised of has two main sections – Kaniyo Pabidi and the Royal Mile and Busingiro areas found south of the park. The forest is located at the edge of the Albertine Rift valley hence giving protection the largest natural forest area in East Africa. The forest inhabits over 350 bird species, with the most viewed birds here include, the Cassin’s spine tail, chestnut-capped flycatcher, Ituri batis, Nahan’s francolin, black-collared lovebird, brown twin spot, chocolate-backed, blue-breasted and African dwarf kingfishers.
Lake Mburo National Park
Birding is one of the major undertakings that carried out in Lake Mburo National Park, and the best for birding spotting area near the swamps at Warukiri and Rwonyo. The park holds about 315 bird species, which include the crested francolin, emerald-spotted wood dove, brown parrot, barefaced go-away bird, red-necked spur-fowl, common quails, black-billed barbet, greenwood hoopoe, blue-napped mouse bird, lilac-breasted roller, African-grey horn-bill, Nubian woodpecker, trilling cisticola, bee-eaters and the cheeky bronze-tailed starling and the majestic crowned crane. You also have chances of sighting the rare African fin foot, shoebill, African fish eagle, and malachite and pied kingfishers while on a launch cruise on Lake Mburo.
Kibale National Park
This forest is one of the main birding destinations with over 375 bird species, comprising of six endemic to the Albertine Rift area. Kibale forest is an excellent birding destination with varied habitat and dense vegetation. The most common sought after bird in the Kibale Forest is the green-breasted pitta. Other more number of birds are; the red-chested owlet, purple-breasted sun bird, blue-breasted kingfisher, crowned eagle, little greenbul, black bee-eater, white-naped pigeon, scaly-breasted illadopsis, yellow-throated Nicator, white-headed wood hoopoe, red-headed malimbe, yellow-spotted barbet, dusky-blue flycatcher, grey-throated flycatcher, grey-winged robin, crested flycatcher, blue-shouldered robin chat, yellow-spotted barbet, black-billed turaco, white-napped pigeon, red-chested Fluff-tail and tiny sun bird.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Rwenzori mountains national park holds about 177 bird species, among which includes 19 Albertine Rift endemics. The mighty Rwenzori Mountains National Park is found in western Uganda, with snow-capped peaks whose highest point reaches 5,110 m. Most of the birding is done while hiking in the forest zone and species to see include Rwenzori turaco, long-eared owl, Archers’ robin-chat, Lagden’s bush shrike, blue-headed and golden-winged sun-bird, white-starred robin, slender-billed starling, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, bearded vultures, and swifts.
Semuliki National Park
The park is situated in western Uganda in the Albertine Rift valley with around 441 species in its riverine, forest and grasslands avian habitats. It in habits Guinea-Congo biome species in its lowland forest. Some of the birds that can be spotted out here are; African piculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue-billed malimbe, yellow-throated nicator, black dwarf hornbill, Nkulengu rail, piping horn bill, blue-billed malimbe, yellow-throated cuckoo, dwarf honey guide, great blue and Ross’s turaco, purple-breasted sun bird, orange weaver, white-crested horn bill, red-billed dwarf horn bill, African piculet and swamp palm bulbul.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Bwindi impenetrable forest found south western Uganda is ranked as the best birding destination in Africa according to Africa Bird Club, Bwindi impenetrable forest inhabits the rare bird species that cannot be found anywhere in Africa. Birding within the forest is easily accessible for with maintained birding trails in the forest. Bwindi is home to about 350 species of birds, which consists of 23 Albertine Rift endemics of which 14 are not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. Species to look out for include the African green broad-bill, Chapin’s flycatcher, Shelley’s crimsoning, handsome Francolin, mountain-masked and collared apalis, white-bellied robin chat, black billed turaco, Fraser’s eagle, western bronze-naped pigeon, purple-breasted, blue-headed and regal sun birds.
Mabamba Bay Wetland Uganda near Lake Victoria
Mabamba Swamp is one of the greatest places to clip a sight a shoebill. Mabamba is found near the largest freshwater body in Africa and is home to frequent water birds. While you’re there ,spot out some birds such as the elusive shoebill, swamp flycatcher, Veillot’s black weaver papyrus gonolek, malachite kingfisher, winding cisticola, pied kingfisher, black-headed heron, black kite, African open-billed stork, African jacana, lesser jacana, , grosbeak weaver, black-headed weaver and African marsh harrier.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
The park is found in southern part in Uganda bordering Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo. It is home to around 180 bird species with some of the outstanding Albertine Rift endemics. Mgahinga offers outstanding bird watching openings besides the gorge trail, bamboo trail and farm/community trail. The bird species found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park include Kivu ground thrush, stripe-breasted tit, cinnamon bracken warbler, olive pigeon greater double-collared sunbirds, Rwenzori batis, Archer’s robin chat, black-headed waxbill, western green tinker bird, Cape robin, white-starred robin, brown woodland warbler, brown-crowned tchagra and scarlet-tufted, white-starred robin.