Uganda Highlights Jun 10—29, 2017
Posted by Dion Hobcroft
We were back on the road in this fabulously diverse East African country for our annual summer tour, which was again successful in the quest to see wild Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, and the most bizarre Shoebill. Beyond these charismatic mega-vertebrates we racked up over 450 species of birds and had fabulous encounters with Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, and the incredible African Elephant. After most had assembled in Entebbe, we spent a lazy afternoon birding the garden of our delightful hotel for an unofficial start to the tour. An African Gray Parrot and a pair of Double-toothed Barbets feeding in close proximity were the highlights. At dusk an African Hobby flew by.
Now “officially official,” the morning was spent in three boats cruising and poling our way through the amazing Papyrus marsh called Mabamba. The Shoebill was our predominant target, and we actually observed three individuals, but all proved skittish and flew at our approach, although on one occasion the behemoth “Whalehead” flew right over us at low altitude. We had great fortune with a bunch of rarely seen species with superb looks at Rufous-bellied Heron, African Pygmy-Goose, and Blue Swallow, while the elusive Lesser Jacana was seen briefly in flight. After a siesta we explored the Entebbe Botanic Gardens. The giant trees here provide nesting hollows for Black-and-White Casqued Hornbills and Crowned Hornbills, both species being very tame. We also had success with the sparse Orange Weaver. It had been a great first day with more than ninety species tallied at dinner, beyond the birds mentioned.
It was time to head south, and we started watching birds at Mpanga Forest, close to the capital, Kampala. Walking along the forest-farmland edge was productive, with great experiences with Purple-banded Sunbird, Magpie Mannikin, African Pied Hornbill, and our first Great Blue Turacos that were discovered nesting. Walking into the forest we found our first Red-tailed Monkeys. A Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher was very entertaining as it tried its best to drive away a Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill that seemed oblivious to being constantly buzzed. A beautiful pair of Chestnut Wattle-eyes was spotted, and we had a great view of the enigmatic Green Hylia, a species of uncertain affinity. A rare sighting was a Thick-billed Honeyguide that was sallying out, repeatedly flashing its white outer tail feathers. A pair of Red-headed Malimbes performed beautifully, foraging like nuthatches on a dead stump. Local guides Roger and Harriet did a great job explaining about different butterflies and birds.
Read Dion’s full report in his Field List.