Uganda Highlights Jun 10—29, 2018

Posted by Dion Hobcroft


Dion Hobcroft

Dion Hobcroft has been working for VENT since 2001. He has led many tours (more than 170) to Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Bhutan, Indonesia, India, China, Southwest ...

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We were charged by a Chimpanzee, splashed by a Shoebill, and grabbed gently by a Gorilla as we danced with the ants: it was a multiple highlight tour. With all participants arriving on schedule, we enjoyed a relaxed unofficial start to the tour, peering at discretely placed water bowls in the thickets of vegetation of our lovely guest house. There was much activity as we were regaled by White-browed Robin-Chats and admired the hyper-scarlet Black-headed Gonolek, intensely purple Splendid Starling, dashing African Hobby, dazzling Scarlet-chested Sunbird, a confusion of weavers, fantastic African Harrier-Hawks quartering the property, and the splendid Double-toothed Barbet. Yes, we had arrived in Uganda, incredibly biodiverse, the best antidote for jetlag.

Mountain Gorilla, female

Mountain Gorilla, female— Photo: Dion Hobcroft

The next morning we were in a queue waiting for a vehicular ferry to transport us across a narrow stretch of Lake Victoria. There was much human activity at the wholesale vegetable market and considerable bird activity as well. Hamerkop, African Openbill, a scarce Red-knobbed Coot, and a bunch of White-winged Black Terns (several in breeding plumage) all performed well. Once at Mabamba, we loaded up into three boats and had almost instant success with a very tame, rather scruffy second year Shoebill. Shortly after, we found an immaculate adult Shoebill incredibly obliging. Between both individuals we witnessed the lunging predation, yawning of the cavernous mandibles, statuesque immobility, and lift-off (during which one participant was splashed).  “B. rex” was on the list—it is an incredible bird! Fully chuffed with early success, our good luck held with first a superb Papyrus Gonolek, an incredibly well-behaved Lesser Jacana, and, after some concerted peering into dense papyrus that sizzled to bird song, good views of the nomadic Weyn’s Weaver at a well-hidden nesting colony. Back on shore we found a rarity in a Red-billed Oxpecker, a species that is rarely reported in modern-day Uganda outside of remote Soroti district and somewhat extraordinary out of a national park. In a short grass paddock we found a good number of Senegal Lapwings and several dapper Gray-rumped Swallows. The afternoon session in the Botanic Gardens was highlighted by excellent scope views of feeding Gray Parrots, the incredible Great Blue Turaco, an African Wood-Owl well-tucked into its vine tangle hideout, and glowing Orange Weavers. It capped off a day of 100 species even.

Read Dion’s full report in his Field Report.