BIRDING IN UGANDA
BIRDING IN UGANDA
The East African country is landlocked but arguably one of the countries with stunning beauties in the region. From the snow at the Equator in the Rwenzori’s down to the forests covering highlands of Kigezi that make home to mountain gorillas flowing rivers and lakes.
In the past years, Uganda has developed and positioned itself as a key birding destination in East Africa and Africa as a whole. The country has 33 IBA’s (Important Birding Areas) which are developed and recognized as birding destinations. These are bird-rich habitats in the country and they offer the best and unique birding experience in Africa and beyond. The country boasts over 1083 bird species that have been recorded, these make 10% of the world’s species and 50% of Africa’s bird species with some of the unique birds in the region like the Dusky Crimsonwing, Green Breasted Pitta, and the only Uganda endemic- Fox’s weaver. The number makes Uganda a “birding paradise” as referred to by the people who get to explore it on birding tours.
The national parks (10) within the country are the biggest habitats for most species in the country. These cover an altitude from 650m to 5109m ASL. They range from semi-desert to savanna, lowland, forests, wetlands, montane, and Afro-alpine zones. This makes it house different species that occupy these areas. However, birds in the country are not only in these areas, but they also overlap and every square kilometer you drive or walk, it has different species to offer. Therefore, as you marvel through the pearl of Africa, you sight spectacular birds in addition to wildlife.
The birding fraternity keeps on growing with a number of quality birding guides and more youth getting involved in this outdoor activity. Some of the key birding areas include.
Queen Elizabeth National park leads the rest in numbers with over 600 bird species. The diverse ecosystems in the park offer habitat to a range of species. Here you can encounter species like the Gray capped Warbler, Collared Pratincole, and Slender Tailed Nightjar among others.
With Over 350 species, the luxuriant forest of Bwindi Impenetrable is one of the rich biodiversity in the Albertine Rift Valley. With 23 of the 24 Albertine endemics which include the globally threatened Shelly’s Crimsonwing and the Grauer’s Broadbill. This makes the park a darling for most of the birders in the country. But, depending on what species you need to see, every birding spot is rich and rewarding.
The others include Mabamba Wetland famous for the Shoebill, Kibale Forest National park, Kidepo valley national park with 28 species from the Somali-Masai Biome, and Sudan-Guinea biome and supports some of the rarest species in Uganda like the Karamoja Apalis and Black Breasted Barbet.
Semliki national park is referred to as a “Birders Haven” lying along with the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the Rift valley. The park covers the eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest. It harbors a number of Central African species which are almost impossible to be found anywhere else in East Africa and these include the Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-wattled Hornbill, the Nkulengu Rail, just to mention but a few. There is a single, unconfirmed report of the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel. Also
- Budongo Forest (Royal Mile)
- Lake Mburo National park
- Mgahinga Gorilla National park
- Murchison Falls National park
Birding in Uganda can be done all year-round, and because most of the visitors for this activity are mainly interested in the resident birds. The climate is one of the factors to take into consideration. Uganda is a very wet country. During the wet seasons, the colors come out well however roads and forest trails might be in poor condition, and rains could interfere with birding time and may make birds not come out. The best time for birding is from late May through September, when there is less rain, birds are breeding and food is abundant.