Ugandan Birding for Businessmen – 10,000 Birds

By Peter Penning

Peter Penning is a sustainability administration advisor who spends many weeks overseas away from his properties in The Netherlands (work) and Portugal (holidays). Though work distracts him recurrently from the remark of birds, he has managed to see a terrific many species regardless. He firmly believes within the necessity of birders to contribute to conservation. He passively helps BirdLife within the Netherlands and South Africa and actively in Portugal as treasurer of SPEA – Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves. Peter likes to fulfill individuals and have good after-birding lunches which has significantly hampered his skill to construct up a really spectacular life listing. By some means, he doesn’t care.

Journey is important for my work – though a latest pandemic proved it to be not that important in any case. Regardless, my suitcase all the time has binoculars and the related guide for the area. So, with “Birds of East Africa” packed in with the clear lingerie the newest journey went to Uganda. The journey was quick on time, so no gorillas, chimps, or Albertine Rift endemics. A little bit of inspiration from 10,000 Birds and a fast have a look at hotspots round Entebbe helped plan the go to.

Entry into Uganda was clean because of the brand new system of pre-arranging the visa on-line. Touchdown late within the night made it essential to guide a visitor home close to the airport and I stayed in Okra Home. The choice was fully as a result of Okra Home had a giant backyard that delivered three lifers over breakfast the following day. It pays off to search for inexperienced close to your resort when touring.


To get to the well-known Mabamba Bay swamp I needed to cross a bay in Lake Victoria. There are two methods to try this: the official ferry or taking a motorized canoe. The canoes go everytime you need, and no one may inform me if the ferry runs on a schedule, so into the canoe of skipper Julius I jumped. It pays off to do some negotiation as my first obtained supply was 40 thousand shillings, however Julius was tremendous proud of 20 thousand (I in all probability nonetheless paid my “mzungu” tax – a doubt confirmed appropriate by the return journey just a few days later). A 15-minute crossing took me to the opposite facet. Fifteen minutes with a Pied Kingfisher each minute, a nice breeze by means of the thinning hair, and a smile on my face.  Simply earlier than setting off, I warned Nkima Forest Lodge of my pending arrival so they might ship somebody to select me up.

The automotive took a while to reach, so I stood underneath the closest and solely shady tree and waited. You’re by no means alone in Africa – it’s the one fixed on an extremely numerous continent. Whereas ready I obtained provided 4 dozen eggs (principally damaged), a cow (I’m positive of that), two marriage proposals (much less positive) and I realized why each Ugandan can afford a Rolex (it’s a chapati roll with eggs). I shared some chocolate, chatted with the boda-boda drivers, and determined by no means to take any of those dangerous-looking motorbikes. Particularly not the one plastered in promotional supplies for leisure marihuana. Gray-hooded Kingfisher on a pole, a Broad-billed Curler in a tree, and many Gray-headed Sparrows made for nice ready. Driver Johnson confirmed up and we drove to the lodge.

Nkima Forest Lodge consists of six cabins on prime of an extinct volcano coated in secondary forest. The lodge serves nice meals and has a fridge filled with chilly Tuskers. My cabin had a pair of Gray Parrots in a hole tree, an Upcher’s Warbler, and a Black-bellied Paradise-flycatcher. Mosquito netting, sizzling water, and spotlessly clear. The entire lodge runs on photo voltaic and biogas. To the swamp is a straightforward and birdy stroll down the hill. Again to a chilly beer is a sweaty and birdy walk-up. The employees are educated about birds, particularly a gentleman known as Siraji. He confirmed me a Western Nicator and a pair of Pink-shouldered Cuckoo-shrikes earlier than I had the possibility to complete the welcome drink. My favorite native hen was Ross”s Turaco which appears very very similar to a Congolese Dandy, very fashionable. Resident Pink-tailed Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, and Bushbabies are enjoyable to look at however they do throw “stuff” at your cabin. That is my first put up, so I gained’t present particulars on the stuff, however monkeys – they’ve a bizarre humorousness.

From the lodge, I took excursions to the Mabamba Bay swamp (three Shoebills), Makanaga Swamp (one Shoebill), and Mpanga Central Forestry Reserve. My information Joseph in Mabamba tried arduous to get me a Papyrus Gonolek, however latest papyrus chopping had chased them away. So, regardless of three Shoebills, I felt the pang of dipping. I used to be deeply impressed with the group of the Shoebill watching although. The area people protects the swamp as a result of it’s the house of their totem, the lungfish. Shoebills eat lungfish they usually additionally appeal to wealthy individuals from overseas. The neighborhood expenses each birder 25 thousand Uganda shilling and a ship with information and skipper prices one other 150 thousand. The restrict is 5 boats within the swamp at anybody time which could be very low strain contemplating the large dimension of the swamp. A far cry from the “lion jams” in safari parks.

My information for the opposite two areas was Shakul. He’s attempting to get his eco-tourism enterprise going (e-mail mabambaswampshoebill (at) or +256 784 751 923). Shakul guided me to Makanaga, took all of the hen footage on this put up, and drove me to Mpanga. Makanaga is vast and open, Mpanga is densely forested – what a distinction. Personally, I’d skip Makanaga subsequent time and spend two days in Mpanga. Makanaga will ship for first-timers to Africa and the numbers are spectacular (a whole lot of Gull-billed Terns) however Mpanga is simply superior. Shakul launched me to Proscovia Nanyombi, Prossy for brief. Prossy has been birding the forest for greater than a decade. Her wonderful sight and listening to delivered – I noticed lots of birds and I noticed them nicely. Mpanga is main forest, so every little thing occurs excessive up within the cover. Prossy makes use of a laser pointer and fortuitously doesn’t do the irritating “look subsequent to the department” kind of instructions that I’ve skilled elsewhere. She’s on e-bird and Fb, so look her up and rent her if you wish to go birding in Mpanga. My favourite hen of that day: the Bushy-breasted Barbet. Who comes up with these names and why not go for hairy-chested and have a little bit of amusing?

After per week with 53 birds so as to add to my life listing, simply as many beers on the tab to pay, a recipe for banana-gingerbread in my pocket, and a number of fond Ugandan recollections it was time to move again. The canoe crossing value 10 thousand shillings (what?) and pre-arranged transport on the touchdown took me again to Entebbe airport. I shall be visiting Uganda once more; it’s a stunning nation with beautiful individuals and lots of birds.

The lists of the birds I’ve seen are on e-bird.

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