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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Uganda, 13th-29th May 2008,
The idea was to do Kenya however, the political situation after their general election scuppered that plan. After a quick scan of the internet it was decided that Uganda was a worthy substitute. A decision we don’t regret one bit. This small land locked country roughly the size of the UK has a bird list of over 1000 has some really remarkable birds like Shoebill and Black Bee-eater. It also has a long list of restricted range species and other birds often difficult to see in other parts of Africa. Then there is the option of both Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking. Unfortunately because of the time scales involved we didn’t prepare for this trip as thoroughly as we would have liked. For example my ‘Where to watch birds in Uganda’ arrived just the day before I left.
We decided to send off emails to several of the Ugandan birding companies asking if they could accommodate us and provide an outline itinerary and inclusive price. The price was to include a full time guide, all transport, all accommodation, all meals, all park entrance fees and airport transfers. We initially asked them to exclude the Gorilla and Chimp trekking options as we had a restricted budget. Most responded positively however after we had exchanged a couple of more emails a firm favourite had emerged. We decided to go with the itinerary and price provided by Bird Uganda Safaris Http://www.birduganda.com a company based in Kampala.
Their director Herbert Byaruhanga and his staff worked tirelessly on our behalf and made our stay effortless, all we had to do was go birding. The cost came out initially at $2000 plus $500 extra for the Gorilla trekking. This option we decided to take up as we both wanted to see Mountain Gorilla and do our David Attenborough thing sod the cost. We flew with KLM via Amsterdam at a cost of £475:70p per person including all taxes. We booked our ticked through Trail Finders http://www.trailfinders.com/ whose price was lower than the one advertised on KLM’s own web site.
13th May 06:30 from London, arrive 08:55 Amsterdam. Leave Amsterdam 11:10 arrive 20:15 Entebbe.
28th May 22:20 leave Entebbe arrive 05:55 Amsterdam.
29th May 07:15 leave Amsterdam arrive 07:40 London.
Birds of East Africa – Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe. A truly wonderful book.
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara – Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan. Another top tome.
Where to watch birds in Uganda – Jonathan Rossouw & Marco Sacchi. A must have.
Lonely Planet guide to East Africa – for background reading
Bradt travel guide to Uganda – has a great birds section.
Uganda: A Birding Safari – June 2005 by Steve Arlow
Southern Uganda – Travel Survival Kit for visiting birders by Petri Hottola
Uganda 18th February – 14th March 2005 by Ulrik Andersen & Erik Molgaard
13th May – Arrived Entebbe and taken straight to our hotel Golf View Inn for dinner and an early night. Http://www.golfview-Inn.com
Day 1 the 14th May - After an early breakfast, drive to Mabamba Swamp, 50km west of Kampala. Stop enroute at Mpigi Swamp. Greater part of the day at Mabamba on returning to our hotel we had an hour or so to stroll around the Entebbe Botanical Gardens.
Day 2 the 15th May – A driving day we left the Golf View, birding enroute to the Masindi Hotel. Http://www.masindihotel.com Birding around the hotel and after dinner out lamping Nightjars.
Day 3 the 16th May – Masindi to Murchison Falls overnight at the Red Chilli Rest Camp Murchison Falls. Http://www.redchillihideaway.com/paraa.htm
Day 4 the 17th May – Morning game drive in the National Park. After lunch back at Red Chilli we left for a boat trip on the Nile up to the Falls. We alighted at the base of the Falls and climbed up the steep path to the top. Birding around the top of the Falls and waiting for Bats to emerge. Dinner at Red Chilli.
Day 5 the 18th May – Early start and drive back to Masindi. Afternoon birding in Busingiro Forest. Overnight at the Masindi Hotel. Http://www.masindihotel.com
Day 6 the 19th May – Birding the Budongo Forest and the ‘Royal Mile’ with our guide for the day Vincent Odama. Overnight at the Masindi Hotel.
Day 7 the 20th May – Travel day to Kibale and birding the forest in the afternoon. Overnight at the Chimpanzee Guest House. Http://www.traveluganda.co.ug/chimpguesthousekibale
Day 8 the 21st May – Breakfast at 05:00 birding the Kibale Forest for Owls etc. Overnight at the Chimpanzee Guest House.
Day 9 the 22nd May – Breakfast at 05:30 morning birding Kanyanghu Forest. After lunch we decided to leave Kibale and head off for Queen Elizabeth National Park. Overnight at the Mwela Guest House.
Day 10 the 23rd May – another early breakfast at 05:45 and off for a morning safari. After lunch left for the long drive to Bwindi. Overnight at the Bwindi View Bandas and Gorilla Nest Rest House. Http://www.traveluganda.co.ug/bwindi-view-bandas
Day 11 the 24th May – Left at 05:40 for the 42km drive to Ruhizha. Birded the area all day. Overnight at the Bwindi View Bandas.
Day 12 the 25th May – Gorilla briefing at 08:00. Morning Gorilla trekking the Habinyanja Family Group. After lunch we birded the waterfall track through Bwindi. Overnight at the Bwindi View Bandas.
Day 13 the 26th May – Left Bwindi at 08:15 morning visit to Rugando Parents Nursery School. Then enroute to Lake Mburo. Arrive Mburo intime for an afternoon boat trip around the lake. Overnight at the Lake Mburo Park Bandas.
Day 14 the 27th May – Spent the early morning on foot safari around the camp site. Breakfast at 10:00. After some more birding around the camp we left Lake Mburo at 12:30 and headed back to Kampala. Overnight at the Red Chilli Hideaway. Http://www.redchillihideaway.com
Day 15 the 28th May – Our final day in Uganda out at 07:00 for Mabira Forest. Spent the morning birding the various tracks. Left the forest early afternoon for the drive back to Kampala and our evening flight home.
Day 16 the 29th May – Arrive back in Heathrow via Schiphol.
Mamamba Swamp for the canoe ride into the swamp in search of the incongruous Shoebill. We didn’t have to wait long before we set eyes upon one of our most wanted. We also had Swamp Flycatcher, Papyrus Gonolek and Lesser Jacana. When we returned to the shore we tramped around the shoreline and we had terrific views of Golden Weaver and several other new species. After leaving Mamamba we birded around the shore of Lake Victoria picking up many African water birds. We finished the day with a visit to the Botanical Garden. Dinner was taken in our hotel
An early morning departure to try and avoid the Kampala traffic. We birded enroute at many different spots and picked up lots of new birds. Grey-crowned Crane, Long-crested Eagle, Great Sparrowhawk, African Citril Finch, Marsh Widowbird, Northern Puffback and many many more African species. We checked into our accommodation late in the afternoon. After a quick freshen up we were out Nightjar hunting. This took place a couple of miles outside town. We noted Slender-tailed, Long-tailed, Black-shouldered and Standard-winged Nightjars. Not a bad evening.
Our evening meal was taken in the hotel restaurant.
Another day of driving this time enroute to Murchison Falls. Again all the birding was done enroute at various stops. Birds we noted here included Golden-backed Weaver, Moustached Warbler, Red-faced Cisticola, Village Weaver, Waxbill, Casqued Hornbill, Red-collared Widowbird and Senegal Coucal. Our camp for the night was the Red Chilli Rest Camp. We had a cottage and it was very comfortable. Evening meal at the rest camp.
After breakfast we queued for the ferry bto take us across the Nile for a game drive through the national park. Some of the birds noted Red-winged Grey Warbler, Goliath Heron, Spur-winged Plover, Dark-chanting Goshawk, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill,
Blue-billed Wood Dove, Flappet Lark, Zitting cisticola, African Stonechat, Croaking Cisticola, Piapiac Black-bellied Bustard, Heuglin’s Francolin, Whistling Cisticola, Black-billed Barbet and last but not least not a bird but a fantastic Leopard.
Back to Red Chilli for lunch then another queue for a boat to take us on a River Nile Cruise to Murchison Falls. Several birds noted on the trip up river including Saddle-billed Stork, Dwarf Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Goliath Heron, Broad-billed Roller, Water Dikkop, Red-fronted Bee-eater, Carmine Bee-eater, Fish eagle, Senegal Thick-knee, Oxpecker Rock Pratincole and Giant Kingfisher. We alighted at the base of the falls and trekked a path up alongside the main falls. We birded around the top of this majestic natural wonder had some tea and then waiting for the bats to emerge and for the Bat Hawk to make an appearance. Just before the bats a female Peregrine put in an appearance closely followed by a Greater Kestrel. A Red-winged Grey Warbler uttered its last refrain before going off to bed and suddenly the Bat Hawk appeared as if by magic. On the way back to the Red Chilli for dinner we did another spot of Nightjar lamping this time noting Plain, Speckled, Pennant-winged, Slender-tailed and Long-tailed Nightjars. What a great days birding.
Left the Red Chilli early heading back to Masindi birding enroute some of the birds seen included Grey-headed Sparrow, African Thrush, Silverbird, Nubian Woodpecker, Beautiful Sunbird, Woodland Kingfisher, Little Swift, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Diederic Cuckoo, Black-headed Tchagra, Black-billed Wood Dove, African Grey Hornbill, Sooty Chat, Grey Woodpecker, Grey-headed Bushshrike and Battleur.
In the afternoon we birded in the Busingiro Forest and had our first taste of ‘Forest Neck’. Birds noted here Shikra, Superb Sunbird, Casqued Hornbill, Chestnut Wattle-eye, White-thighed Hornbill, Crowned Eagle, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Little Grey Greenbul, Forest Robin, Red-headed Malimbe and Green Crombec.
Evening meal was taken in the Masindi hotel restarant great food.
Since we had the itinerary this was one of the days I was particularly looking forward to a visit to Budongo Forest and ‘The Royal Mile’. We picked up our guide to the forest on our way and Vincent Odama joined us for our morning birding. Vincent is a magnificent birder and knows the forst like the back of his hand. Birds noted here:
Black-shouldered Kite, White-browed Coucal, Pied Hornbill, Red-headed Bluebill, Black Weaver, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Emerald Cuckoo, Slender-billed Greenbul, White-breasted Negrofinch, Forest Flycatcher, Brown Illadopsis, Buff-spotted Flufftail, White-thighed Hornbill, Red-capped Robin Chat, African Shrike Flycatcher, Grey-throated Flycatcher, Nahan;s Francolin, Dwark Kingfisher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Western Nicator, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Barbet, Green Hylia, Brown-chested Alethe, Buff-throated Apilis, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, African Shrike Flycatcher, Red-crested Malimbe, Purple-capped Starling, Ashy Flycatcher, African Goshawk, Red-tailed Antthrush, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Dusky-long-tailed Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Honeyguide Greenbul, Red-tailed Greenbul, Olive Sunbird, Buff-throated Apalis, Dusky Tit, Pygmy Kingfisher, Madagasca Cuckoo Toro-Olive Greenbul, White-spotted Flufftail, Mottled Spinetail, Cassin’s Spinetail and Dark-capped Warbler.
After leaving the forest we spent some time around the town and picked up Red-headed Weaver, Ross’s Touraco, White-crested Touraco, and Horus Swift.
Retired exhausted but well satisfied with our days forest birding.
Travel to Kibale birding enroute visited several sites and in the afternoon we had a quick visit to the forest, we noted the following birds.
Cassin’s Blue Flycatcher, White-chinned Prinia, Joyful Greenbul, Crested Shrike Flycatcher, Grey-throated barbet, Sooty Flycatcher, many-coloured Bushshrike, yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Slender-billed Greenbul, Emerald Cuckoo, paradise Flycatcher, Petite’s Cuckoo-shrike, Black-billed Touraco, Red-headed Malimbe, Green Sunbird, Little-green Sunbird, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator Dusky-blue Flycatcher, masked Apalis, Afep Pigeon, Purple-headed Starling and just outside Kibale on the main road we spotted a small group of three Chimpanzees. Two females and a baby. Overnight and dinner at the Chimpanzee Guest House.
Kibale Forest birding. We took breakfast at 05:00 so we could have a good chance for our owl. W hadn’t been in the forest for more than 15 minutes when the shout went up that the owl had been heard and seen flying across the road infront of us. A quick search with the lamp and the bird was soon located high up on a branch but out in the open. So we had our target in the bag before 6 o’clock African Wood Owl ticked and eventually when light allowed even photographed. We also had an African Goshawk
After our success with the Wood Owl we moved to the further into the forest for more forest birding. Here we noted: Pale Breasted Illadopsis, Blue Striped Kingfisher, Chestnut-backed Wattle-eye, Green Hylia, Red-tailed Antthrush, Afep Pigeon, Speckled Tinkerbird, Velvet-breasted Drongo, Crowned Hornbill, Red-tailed Bristlebill, African Grey parrot, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Banded Wattle-eye, Narina Trogon, Green-whiskered Greenbul, Red-chested Owlet, Grey Apalis, Great Blue Touraco, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Thick-billed Seedeater and grey-backed Cameroptera. Another great days birding.
This morning we birded inside the Kanyanghu Forest birds noted here included: Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Red-capped Chat, African Wagtail, Toro-olive Greenbul, Black-necked Weaver, Black-naped Touraco, Shiny-blue Kingfisher, Afep Pigeon, Pale-throated Illadopsis, Western Niator, Speckled Tinkerbird, Green Crombec, Pale-throated Bulbul, Plain Greenbul, Olive Sunbird, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Yellow-spotted Barbet, African Shrike Flycatcher, Green Hylia, White-throated Greenbul, Dusky Tit, Vieillot’s Black Weaver, Green Sunbird, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Crowned Eagle, Emerald Cuckoo, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher and Copper-breasted Sunbird. When we resurfaced back at the start of our trail we had some lunch and decided on a change of plan. We decided to cut the planned afternoon forest birding and insead head for the Queen Elizabeth National Park for some Savanna birding. We quickly booked overnight accommodation and headed off birding enroute. Some of the birds we saw on the way: McKinnon’s Fiscal Shrike, Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater, Shikra, Pallid Harrier, Red-chested Cuckoo. Grassland Pipit, Long-crested Eagle, Grey-backed Shrike, Red-necked Francolin, Croaking Cisticola and Bar-breasted Firefinch. We booked into our accommodation the Mweya Guest House just after sunset.
Queen Elizabeth National Park morning safari. Up and out the door by 05:45 the first bird we noted was a Square-tailed Nightjar in the road. First bird in the park was White-browed Robin-chat followed by: Pied Kingfisher, Black-headed Gonolec, White-browed Coucal, Ruppell’s Long-tailed Starling, Red-necked Francolin, Red-eyed Dove, Palmnut Vulture, Egyptian Goose, Grey-backed Fiscal, Northern Black Flycatcher, Common Bulbul, Blue-spotted Wood Dove and at 07:45 we spotted another magnificent Leopard. This time to far away for photographs but two different leopards on the same trip before we had even seen a lion. A pride of Lions appeared at 08:30. After luch we left Queen Elizabeth for the long drive to our overnight stop Bwindi. While enjoying a beer at our guest house we noted White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Elliot’s Woodpecker in a tree right next to our table, and lastly Green-winged Pytilia. Overnight and dinner at the Bwindi View.
Up and breakfasted early 05:40 for the 42Km drive to Ruhizha where we arrived at 07:40 we birded the area all day. Birds noted here:
Olive Pigeon, Dwarf Honeyguide, Black Sawwing Chestnut-throated Apalis, Red-fronted Barbet, Rwenzori Batis, Chubb’s Cisticola, Doherty’s Bushshrike, Thick-billed Seedeater, Regal Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Mountain Buzzard, yellow-whiskered Bulbul, Mountain-masked Apalis, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Green-headed Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Slaty Flycatcher, Rwenzori Apalis, Black-billed Touraco, Augur Buzzard, Slender-billed Greenbul, Blackand White Mannikin, Baglafecht Weaver, Graur’s Warbler after a lunch in the field we continued birding and noted, Stripped Tit, Crowned Hornbill, Bronze-naped Pigeon, African Goshawk, African Green Pigeon, White-naped Pigeon, Red-eyed Dove, Great-blue Touraco, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Grey-throated Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, yellow-spotted Barbet, Angola Swallow, Mountain Greenbul, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat,Red-throated Alethe, Mountain yellow warbler, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Stout Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, Chinspot Batis, Mc Kinnon’s Shrike, Luhder’s Bush-shrike, Mountain Oriole, Chestnut-winged Starling, Strange Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver and Kandt’s Waxbill. Retired to our guest house for dinner.
The big day had finally arrived. Gorilla briefing at 08:00. Morning Gorilla trekking
The group we were going to trek was known as the Habinyanja family Group which consisted of two silverbacks and at least twenty other family members. Well the trekking is a story on its own suffice to say we scored with nearly all the family and birding took a serious back seat. We lunched at 12:30 and we were back in Bwindi by 14:00. We then decided to bird the waterfall track through the forest birds noted here:
Equatorial Akalat, Great Blue Touraco, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Stulman’s Starling, Black Bee-eater, Bar-tailed Trogon and Mountain Illadopsis. Retired exhausted to our bed and final night at the Bwindi Guest House.
Another driving day today, we left Bwindi after a leisurely breakfast at 08:45. We said our goodbyes to the very friendly staff and headed off to Lake Mburo. Just after leaving Bwindi we made a stop at the Rugando Parents Nursery School where we presented the head teacher with the goodies we took with us from home. They were all very grateful and it certainly made me feel very humble.
We caught the afternoon lake Mburo Cruise and after a short safety briefing we were off. Birds noted on the cruise: African Finfoot, Black Crake, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Fish Eagle, Green Heron, Long-tailed Cormorant and Lesser masked weaver. The Fish Eagle in particular offered great photo opportunities. Overnight and evening meal in the Lake Mburo Park Bandas.
This morning was spent with a park ranger on a walking safari through the park, here we picked up: Greater Honeyguide, Lilac-breasted Roller, Grey Hornbill, Red-billed Quellea, Nubian Woodpecker, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Striped Kingfisher, Ross’s Touraco, Pied Kingfisher, Ruppell’s Long-tailed Starling, Spot-flanked Barbet, Diederic Cuckoo, Red-chested Sunbird, Marico Sunbird, White-browed Robin Chat, Red-eyed Dove, Sooty Chat, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Paradise Flycatcher, Black Cuckoo shrike, Green Pigeon, Red-billed Firefinch, Trilling Cisticola, Copper Sunbird, Lead coloured Flycatcher, Tabora Cisticola, Red-faced Crombec, Thick-billed Cuckoo, White-browed Scrub Robin, Fork-tailed Drongo, Wattled Lapwing, Black sawing, Lizard Buzzard, Brown-necked parrot, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Golden-breasted Rock Bunting, Green-backed Camaroptera, Lesser-striped swallow,
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Golden-backed Weaver, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, and Coqui Francolin. We had breakfast at 10:30 and while having our meal we ticked off Cardinal Quelea, Bare-faced Go-away-bird and Little Weaver. We finally left Mburo National Park at 12:30 and headed for our last stop in Uganda the Red Chilli Hideaway in Kampala. We unpacked and enjoyed the company in the Red Chilli and even managed to send some e-mails. Evening meal and several beers later we retired to our bed.
Our final day in Uganda and we were up and breakfasted by 06:30 and out the door by 07:00. We headed the 53Km East to Mabira Forest and we arrived there at about 08:30. We started picking up birds almost immediately birds noted here included:
Black-necked Weaver, White-eye, African Thrush, Blue Flycatcher, Snowy-headed Robin Chat, Casqued Hornbill, Grey-capped Warbler, Purple-headed Starling, Grey Parrot, Weyns’s Weaver, White-throated Bee-eater, Speckled Tinkerbird, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Little Greenbul, Sabine’s Spinetail, Sombre Greenbul, Olive-green Camaroptera, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Emerald Cuckoo, Slender-billed Greenbul, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Buff-throated Apalis, Grey-throated Flycatcher, Western Nicator, Red-chested Cuckoo, Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Little Green Sunbird, Collared Sunbird, Grey Greenbul, Sooty Bulbul, Afep Pigeon, Pale-breasted Barbet, Tambourine Dove, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Pygmy Kingfisher, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Magpie Mannikin, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Olive Sunbirdm Green-backed Twinspot, Great Blue Touraco, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, Grey-breasted Barbet, Black-billed Touraco, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, Black-headed Oriole, Blue-throated Bronze Sunbird, Marabou Stork, Hooded Vulture, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Forest Robin, Fire-crested Alethe, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black and White Shrike Flycatcher, Green-headed Sunbird and African Pied Wagtail.
We left the forest at 13:00 for the drive back through Kampala and the trip to the airport at Entebee and our evening flight home. We did stop enroute for a coffee at smart hotel near Kampala and note a couple of birds: Common Kestrel, Variable Sunbird and Red-chested Sunbird.
Bird List: (62kB .pdf)