BIRDING IN UGANDA
Uganda ranks among the top most attractive destination in the world for bird watchers. This can be attributed to the many habitats where the birdshave found safe heavens to reproduce, these include; forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers, wood lands, plantations, savannahs, trees and buildings scattered around city centers.
There are over 1010 recorded species excluding the migratory birds from Europe, North Africa and the Americas. The key attribute to the wide varieties of birds found in Uganda is solely because of the abundant food and water supply, unlike other regions which quite often have harsh weather conditions which leads to the migrations of the birds to other areas. Uganda’s tropical climate is also another major factor favoring the large species of birds, the birds can easily nest anywhere because of the good weather conditions all year round.
The rain forests of Western Uganda are an important ecological “heaven” for these birds, these forests include; Semliki, Maramagambo, Budongo Forest, Kibale Forest and Bwindi Forest. However, Kibale is the number one spot for the bird lovers, the nearby Bigodi swamp is also a washed with so many varieties. So for the bird lovers, visit Queen Elizabeth NP- with over 600 recorded species, Entebbe (water and forest birds), Lake Mburo (water and acacia associated birds), Murchison falls which has the rare shoe-bill stock, and the many species found almost in all eco systems around the country include;Ostrich, which is the World’s largest bird and is only found in Kidepo Valley National Park, Goliath heron, commonly seen Murchison Falls NP, Saddle billed stork also in MFNP, the Hamerkop, the bird with the largest nest commonly sited in QENP and MFNP, Pelicans commonly found in Kazinga Channel in QENP,Marabou stork, common in rural and urban Environments, Flamingos, pink-white algae eaters commonly seen large numbers around crater lakes in QENP, African Fish Eagle, grey snake-eating bird, Africa Jacana; common in most wetlands in Uganda,Helmeted guinea fowl, African emerald cuckoo, Ross’s turacco, Great blue turaco, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Black and white casqued hornbill, Jackson’s francolin, African skimmer, Papyrus gonolek, African pied hornbill, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Red-throated bee-eater; commonly seen in Lake Albert and the Nile below Murchison falls, white headed wood hoope, African pied hornbill just to mention a few.
Birding in Uganda is quite unique as one can easily have a package containing birding, wildlife and panoramic viewing all at one cost. Whoever birding requires specialist guides which can attract a higher a fee but it will be worth the experience you get.
In Uganda the top birding spots includeKibale forest national park and the surrounding Bigodi swamps, which is a favorite for many, it has got over 350 bird species including; great blue turaco, African fish eagle, swallow- tailed bee eater, hamerkop black-headed heron, goliath heron all these birds can be spotted in the forest and swamps around Kibale.
QENP has over 600 bird species and you expect to see, African Fish Eagle, grey snake-eating bird, Africa Jacana; common in most wetlands in Uganda,Helmeted guinea fowl, African emerald cuckoo, Ross’s turacco, Great blue turaco, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Black and white casqued hornbill, Jackson’s francolin, African skimmer, Papyrus gonolek, African pied hornbill, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Chocolate-backed kingfisher, Red-throated bee-eater; all these birds can be seen during game drives and on the boat cruise on Kazinga channel.
Murchison falls NP has similar birds as QENP however, one bird stands out of them all, the rare “shoebill stock” this bird is said to be closely related to the dinosaurs which roamed the earth in got extinct millions of years ago, this bird prefers remote extensive permanent swampy areas. The goliath heron is another bird not to be missed, this bird can be spotted on the boat cruise on the Nile.
All in all birding is done in most of the protected areas in Uganda and most open spaces including gardens, woodlands, bushes, along water bodies, forest reserves etc. Birding needs patience and perseverance and it can take days for one to achieve his or her set targets.