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Birding in Uganda

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Uganda is the birders'ultimate destination
Uganda has more bird species per square kilometre than any other country in Africa. Uganda, roughly the same size as the UK, can boast a national list of 1008 species! This figure represents more than half the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa.

The key to Uganda's diversity is its variety of habitats: arid semi-dessert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda covers an altitude from 650 to 5000m.

Palm Nut Vulture - Murchison Falls
Palm Nut Vulture - Murchison Falls

Forests:
Situated on the equator Uganda has an area contiguous with the great Guinea / Congo Basin Rainforest on its Western border. Subsequently there are a number of west and central African bird species occurring in Uganda that are not found elsewhere in East Africa. There are more than 700 forest reserves in Uganda. One particular region is the Albertine Rift Endemic area (ARE), which has 38 species of birds confined to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo. Of these ARE's Uganda has 25, mostly confined to the forests of Magahinga and Bwindi National Parks in the Southwest.

Wetlands:
Uganda has 30,000 square kilometers of wetland.
210 species from the Shoebill and African Skimmer to the endemic Fox's Weaver.
4 Papyrus endemics; Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Yellow Warbler.
A White-winged Black Tern roost of 2-3 million birds in the Entebbe area.
Savannahs vary from the remote, semi-dessert, dry thorn-scrub region of Karamoja in the Northeast, to the richer fertile savannahs of the western Rift valley. Queen Elizabeth National Park has a bird list of 604 species the highest for any protected area in Africa.

Shoebill Stork - UWEC
Shoebill Stork - UWEC

Some of the dry thorn-scrub birds:
Swallow-tailed Kite
Pygmy Falcon
Fox Kestrel
Quail Plover
Black-headed Plover
Lichtenstein's and Four-banded Sandgrouse
Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub's Bustards
White-crested Turaco
White-bellied Go-away bird
Piapiac
Bristle-crowned Starling
Abyssinian Roller
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
Karamoja Apalis
Yellow-billed Shrike
Pygmy Sunbird
Brown-rumped Bunting

Kampala and Entebbe:
Over 550 species for the region.
A suburban garden list of 206 species.
212 species listed in 12hrs by 3 people.
One of the largest urban breeding colony of Marabou Storks.
Great Blue and Ross's Turacos are common city birds.
Within The Kampala region are two major forest reserves less than an hours drive from the city which hold a variety of very special birds that includes:
Nahan's Francolin
Cassin's Hawk Eagle
Crowned Eagle
Blue-breasted and White-bellied Kingfishers
Blue-throated Roller
Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike
Tit-Hylia
Brown Twinspot
Grey-rumped and Blue Swallows
Emerald, Red-chested and Black Cuckoos
Weyn's Weaver

Some common urban birds:
Open-billed Stork
Grey-crowned Crane
Wahlberg's Eagle
Palm-nut Vulture
Black and White Casqued, Crowned and Pied Hornbills
Cuckoo Hawk
Bat Hawk
White-faced Scops Owl
African Grey and Brown Parrots
Red-faced Lovebird
Black-headed Gonolek

Uganda's 10 most commonly sought after Birds:
Shoebill
African Green Broadbill
Green-breasted Pitta
Nahan's Francolin
Brown-chested Plover
Karamoja Apalis
Black Bee-eater
Ruwenzori Turaco
Red-fronted Antpecker
Purvell's Illadopsis

Top Birding spots in Uganda:
Mabamba Swamp: Shoebill Stork - Access from Mpigi 30 km west of Kampala.
To get to Mabamba by public transport from Kampala take a taxi from the New Taxi Park to Kasanji. From Kasanji town take a boda-boda to Mabamba Bay for Ushs2,000-. Journey from Kasanji 13.5 km. If you are coming with your own vehicle when departing Kampala at the Natete roundabout drive 29.1 km and turn left onto a good marrum road to Kasanji which is a further 17.5km. At the roundabout in Kasanji town proceed straight for a further 3.9 km and turn right for 9.6 km where you will arrive at Mabamba Bay.

Visitors to Mbamba Swamp are required to pay a US$5- entrance fee as of March 1st 2008. An office has been set up at the landing site where payment is to be made. The local council intend to use monies collected to conserve the area and improve/maintain the existing facilities.

Visitors are able to access the swamp in local fishing boats with a local guide. A fee of Ushs40,000- is charged for the use of the boat for up to 1and 1/2 hours.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: Buhoma - Ruhija - Black Bee-eater, African Green Broadbill
Budongo Forest: Kaniyo Pabidi - Purvels Illadopsis, Shinning Blue Kingfisher, White Crested Turaco
Budongo Forest: The Royal Mile - Chocolate Backed, Dwarf, Blue Breasted Kingfishers
Mga Hinga National Park: Ruwenzori Turaco, Red tufted Malachite Sunbird
Murchison Falls: Red Fronted Bee Eaters, Denhams Bustard, Shoebill
Mabira Forest: Nahan's Francolin and various forest species
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary: Black Billed Turaco, White Spotted Crake
Lake Mburo: Papyrus Gonelek, Finfoot
Rwenzori Mountains: Various Sunbird species
Semliki National Park: White Crested Hornbill, Red Dwarf Hornbill, Red Rumped Tinker Bird
Kibale Forest: Green Breasted Pitta

Shoebill Stork - Mabamba Swamp
Shoebill Stork - Mabamba Swamp

Migration:
Uganda is situated in a major flyway between the Albertine and Great rift Valleys.
Of Uganda's 1008 species, 137 are Palearctic migrants.
At times of peak Spring passage, Waders congregate at all the muddy lagoons around the Entebbe peninsular with mixed flocks of thousands of birds.
Thousands of Steppe Buzzards and migrant Black Kites head south with smaller numbers of Honey Buzzard, Steppe and Booted Eagles each October.
Flocks of European Hobbies moving through join their African counterparts to feed at dusk in flocks of upto 30 or more around the hills of Kampala.
Barn Swallow and Sandmartins congregate in the millions feeding on the even larger swarms of Lake Flies.
The Yellow Wagtail overwinters with an estimated 1 million birds roosting in the reedbeds along the Kazinga Channel in QENP.
Conclusion
For a 10-14 day trip in Uganda a birder could probably see in the region of 400-500 species and have had the experience of birded in some of the most exciting and beautiful scenery in Africa.

Recommeded reading:
Where to watch birds in UgandaWhere to watch birds in Uganda - Jonathan Rossouw & Marco Sacchi. Cover picture right.

Download this comprehensive free Adobe Acrobat Document Ugandan bird checklist 650KB compiled by Great Lakes Safaris

Ugandan Bird Guides:
Uganda's top bird guides are all members of The Uganda Bird Guides Association. Within the ranks of the association are several excellent national bird guides and those that specialise regionally.



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Copyright Uganda Travel Planner 2001-2007

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Birds of East Africa Collins Illustrated Checklist
Ber Van Perlo
Publisher: Collins; 0 edition (1999)
ISBN: 0002199378

Buy Amazon.de - Birds of Eastern Africa
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Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi
Terry Stevenson, John Fanshawe
Publisher: Princeton University Press; (October 2001)
ISBN: 0856610798


Buy Amazon.de - Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa
Buy Amazon.co.uk - Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa