Bird Life in Uganda
To most people allover the world, Uganda is mostly known for inhabiting half of the world’s last remaining population of the mountain gorillas found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Records have it that, mountain gorillas are in danger of extinction with only 880 individuals left in the whole world. Half of this population is found in the Virunga chain of volcanic mountains shared amongst Uganda (Mgahinga National Park), Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) and Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National park). The other population is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National park in south western Uganda. Gorilla tourism is developing on a very high rate as many people fly from different parts of the world to see this endangered specie of gorillas in Africa. Uganda and Rwanda gorilla trekking permits are on very high demand throughout the year, and those interested in taking a gorilla trip are advised to book early your gorilla permits in advance. Gorilla permits can be booked through Travel Agents or Responsible bodies like Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB). There is also a possibility of tracking gorillas twice in both countrie since the gorilla parks are not far from each other, that is to say, it takes less than 2 hours to connect from Volcanoes National park in Rwanda to Southern Bwindi National Park in Uganda.
Today, the world should know that Uganda is not only known for mountain gorillas but also for birding adventure in Africa. The country ranks as one of the top birding destinations in the world, offering an unbeatable combination of variety of birds, well developed transport systems, a user-friendly and supportive birding tourism industry. Birders from around the world come to experience both the great variety of typically African birds, migrants, and endemics – those birds found only in Uganda. These birders enjoy excellent birding, whether they are with an organized commercial birding tour or are touring independently.
Of Over 1000 species that have been recorded in Uganda, about 80% are residents or annual visitors and 50 are near- endemic to Uganda, and can only be seen in the country. Apart from the resident birds, Uganda hosts a number of African migrants such as cormorants, Goose and lapwings, as well as birds from the Arctic, Europe, Central Asia, China and Antarctica during the year.
The Birding Seasons in Uganda
The northern part tends to be dry over much of the country, but wet in the west along the Albertine rift. At this time, excellent birding can be had in the Albertine rift areas of the southwest, complemented by outstanding game viewing. Trips especially those that run out of Kampala, offer the chance to see large numbers of kingfishers, eagles, weavers and vultures. The wet season brings the first of the breeding migrants from further north in Africa, and also heralds the start of the breeding season for the resident species. As the weavers and bishops emerge, so the cuckoos arrive from warmer parts and the breeding season bursts into action.
With the progression of wet season in Uganda into dry, the non-breeding migrants start to arrive from distant climes, mainly from Europe. At this time of the year birding reaches its peak, with widespread breeding activity and most of the migrant species around. The summer highs continue into the New Year, until migrants start to leave during April.
Key Birding Areas
The endemics, those birds found only in Uganda, are obviously one of the major attractions for birders visiting the country. Many of these endemic species are found in the grasslands, mountains, wetlands and southwestern regions. The following areas offer exceptional birding experiences, but really great birding can be had in many other parts of the country at any time of the year.
Mabamba Swamp: The central wetlands are a key area for birders, holding a number of special wetland species, and one of the most visited destinations in Uganda. It is located on the edge of Lake Victoria, northwest of Entebbe peninsula. Mabamba swamp is visited by most of the birding tours that come to Uganda and as a result it has well-developed facilities, including resident guides. The special birds of this area are the shoebill, the blue swallow, papyrus Gonolek, Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-winged Scrub-warbler, Northern Brown-throated Weaver and Papyrus Canary.
Lake Bisina: it is a freshwater lake in eastern Uganda well known for its notable birds including Shoebill, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Papyrus Canary, Fox’s Weaver and Red-chested Sunbird among others.
Lutembe Bay—located on the edge of Lake Victoria, the bay is notable for its population of white-winged tern as well as other distinguished birds including Carruthers’s Cisticola, Grey-headed Gull, Sterna nilotica, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Scrub-warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Sharpe’s Pied-babbler, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Red-chested Sunbird and Papyrus Canary.
Musambwa Island—sited about 10 kilometers offshore from Kasensero Landing site in Sango Bay region, the island is the breeding ground for the grey headed gulls as well as other species of birds Including the Long Tailed Cormorant, Greater Cormorant and the Little Egret.
Many of game reserves and national parks throughout Uganda provide excellent opportunities for birders of all descriptions. These facilities include trails, hides, information sheets and checklists and trained bird guides. Local guides and birding experts can be hired in many places. Some companies offer specialist birding tours, lasting from a few hours to a couple of weeks.
Birding Specialists in Uganda
Once you choose to take a birding safari in Uganda, you are advised to book your trip with one of the credible birding companies such as Birding journeys Uganda, African Jungle Adventures, Abacus Africa Vacations, Birding in Uganda, Africa Adventures Safaris, Active African Vacations, Prime Uganda Safaris and Bird Uganda among others. The fact that Uganda is endowed with a big variety of wildlife, your birding safari will be spiced with other game viewing including the Big 5 animals such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Lions, Leopards and Rhinos in Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary, not forgetting gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest or Mgahinga National Park in south western Uganda.