Wonderful Uganda – December 2011

  • 3
    Shares


A belated blog of my week long trip to Uganda in December.

All started with my Emirates flight to Entebbe via Addis Ababa in Ethiopia which involved an hour on the Tarmac there. Arrived on time in Entebbe around 3pm in the afternoon, skys a little grey but no rain. I was met by my driver Byaruhanga Michael who was employeed by the tour company Venture Uganda which were to be my hosts for the week. First stop was my accomodation for the night at the Airport Guest House. I have to be honest I was not expecting much but I was very pleasantly surprised. Lovely place, lovely staff, lovely Gardens and my first bird sightings in Uganda !

There was enough time for a quick visit to the Botanical Gardens to get my first shots of the trip, although the weather was a little dull. It was also chance to meet my guide for the week Joram Ibosere. Both Michael and Joram were wonderful hosts and became friends by the end of the week.

It was a Saturday afternoon which meant there were many people enjoying the gardens with music and food but still there were enough birds around to grab my interest !

After a good night’s sleep it was time to visit another local patch to Entebbe which was the Uganda Wildlife Education centre (UWEC). As you might expect there are many animals in captivity here, something I am not comfortable with. When you see and hear two fabulous Sea Eagles calling out to their surrounding “wild” friends you have to feel a little saddened. Also captive was the strange looking Shoebill, a chance to view this bird close-up, before catching up with wild birds later in the week. The park however, does have a lot to offer in the way of wild birds with nice walks through good habitat.

This is THE place for Pied Kingfisher, they are everywhere ! Unfortunately I had to do a bit of rain dodging but still managed a pic or two.

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis)

Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata)

Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus)

Day 3 was an early start as we were travelling to Masindi via the Mamamba Wetland, the most reliable place in Uganda to see the wonderful Shoebill and I was not to be disappointed , seeing two birds. The only way to navigate Mabamba Swamp is by small canoe with chaps willing to get wet and push you through the grass where needed !! This is also a great place to see Malachite and Pied Kingfisher amongst many other Wetland birds.

Squacco Heron

(Ardeola ralloides )

African Jacana

(Actophilornis africanus )

Shoebill

(Balaeniceps rex)

Hammerkop

(Scopus umbretta)

Malachite Kingfisher

(Corythornis cristatus )

Long-toed Lapwing

(Vanellus crassirostris)

After a fabulous morning navigating the swamps it was time to get back on the road and head off to Masindi, quite a long trek but with a number of stops on the way just to stretch the legs. Roads are not always of good quality and what appear to be short journeys can take a long time. Finally arrived at New Court View hotel. Lovely little place, very friendly and cold beers ! Off to bed.

Day 4 would be a trip to Budongo Forest to bird the “Royal Mile” . The Royal Mile is found in the 793 km2 Budongo Forest Reserve of which only 53% is forest. The remaining 47% is grassland. The reserve lies at the edge of the Albertine Rift and is attached to Murchison Falls National Park in the south. Named for its popularity as a traditional leisure stop-over for Uganda’s royalty, the Royal Mile is a superb birding spot. We met a very good local guide who was more than familiar with the Forest birds and was able to spot the smallest bird in the densest forest ! A really enjoyable walk up the ‘mile’, revealing some lovely birds.

African Pygmy Kingfisher(Ispidina picta)

African Dwarf Kingfisher

(Ispidina lecontei)

Black and White Colobus

(Colobus guereza)

Day 5 and 6 was spent at Murchison Falls National Park.

The Murchison National park is suited in the northern part of Albertine Rift Valley. A place where the massive Bunyoro escarpment amalgamates into the enormous plains of Acholi land. It’s well known as one of Uganda’s ancient conservation areas. My accomodation would be at the Red Chilli Rest Camp staying in a Banda. The camp is currently managed by an English guy and the menu reflects this with typical English food such as Sheperd’s Pie !

This camp was not on the side of the Nile where the reserve is located and therefore a little cheaper than accomodation in the Park, however it is only a short Ferry ride across the river from the Park where you pick up your local park guide and off you go !

My interest is predominantly birds however there are many animals of interest in the park too. Amazing to see African Bush Elephants resting in the Bush and Giraffes walking the plains.

Black Kite

(Milvus migrans)

Abyssinnian Ground Hornbill

(Bucorvus abyssinicus)

Piapiac

(Ptilostomus afer)

Yellow-throated Longclaw

(Macronyx croceus)

Buffalo host to two Pipiac

(Ptilostomus afer )

Martial Eagle – Juvenile

(Polemaetus bellicosus )

Grey Kestrel

(Falco ardosiaceus )

Whilst staying at the camp I was advised to go on a boat trip to the falls as I would get good Photo opportunities whilst crusing. I was a little reluctant as it is a wide river and geared very much for tourists, anyway reluctantly I decided to give it a go. It turned out to be the highlight of my week, the boatman was excellent and definitely went out of his way to make this a memorable experience for me and the other 8 passengers on board. The only disappointment was missing the second opportunity of the week to photograph a Black Crake as it scuttled off before we could get close enough for a picture. This was not a problem for many other species ! I only wish I had done this the day before too.

If you ever find yourself at Murchison I can highly recommend it. But beware there are some large boats that just go up and down the river. You need one of the smaller boats which are more able to access areas by the river side.

African Fish Eagle

(Haliaeetus vocifer)

Nile Crocodile

(Crocodylus niloticus)

Marabou Stork

(Leptoptilos crumeniferus )

Red-throated Bee-eater (Merops bulocki)

African Skimmer

(Rynchops flavirostris )

Murchison Falls

If you are still with me at the end of this rather long Pictorial Blog I would like to wrap up with Ugandan Birds of the Night ! The feathered kind of course. I spent one wonderful evening out looking for Nightjars, managed 4 species and a couple of hours, seeing probably 10-15 birds altogether. They were very easy to find as they rest on the dirt tracks that criss-cross everywhere. Even got back in time for a couple of beers before bed.

Standard-winged Nightjar

(Macrodipteryx longipennis)

Standard-winged Nightjar

(Macrodipteryx longipennis)

Long-tailed Nightjar

(Caprimulgus climacuras)

Plain Nightjar

(Caprimulgus inornatus)

All in all, Uganda is a wonderful place with wonderful people and fantastic habitat. Living in the desert it was a real pleasure to go somewhere where this is an abundance of wildlife. I will definitely be back at some point.

Well done on getting this far !!

Mike Barth

Mike Barth

Mike Barth, a photographer from Manchester England, was based in Dubai in the UAE from 2004 to 2016. He has travelled regularly to Africa and Asia and has had the pleasure of birding in some wonderful locations. A passionate bird photographer he now offers tours for small groups, maximum of 6, photographers and offers photographic tours to several locations such as Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana. Please visit his site at https://www.mikebarthphotography.com for information, there you can also purchase prints in various formats.

Mike Barth

Mike Barth

Mike Barth, a photographer from Manchester England, was based in Dubai in the UAE from 2004 to 2016. He has travelled regularly to Africa and Asia and has had the pleasure of birding in some wonderful locations. A passionate bird photographer he now offers tours for small groups, maximum of 6, photographers and offers photographic tours to several locations such as Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana. Please visit his site at https://www.mikebarthphotography.com for information, there you can also purchase prints in various formats.

Share this post with your friends

  • 3
    Shares


Facebook Comments

5
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
avatar
digambar gadgil
digambar gadgil

thers is quite variety of birds .–digambar gadgil

malcolm
malcolm

Hi Mike, I think you’ll find that the ‘Pale’ flycatcher in the 3rd photo is a Swamp Flycatcher, Muscicapa aquatica
Cheers
Malcolm

Niall Perrins
Niall Perrins

Hi Mike, your Pale Flycatcher looks more like a Swamp Flycatcher

Uganda is indeed a wonderful place to visit.

Cheers

Niall.

Rory

Hi Mike. It made very interesting reading. I too did the Murchison falls boat trip a number of years ago on a visit. I still recall it very clearly and loved it. A must for any visitor there, for sure..

I never got to see those wonderful nightjar’s though ! Living in Zambia, they are all new species for me, many thanks for that……..and you still had time for a few beers 🙂

ISF_Uganda
ISF_Uganda

wow!!! i’ve never been more proud of my country….this is…Lovely didnt even know we had that many species of birds in Uganda thanks alot for the visit and also appreciating what we have to offer. oping we’ll get to have you back ASAP…:)