Uganda: Comprehensive Eastern & Western Custom Birding Tour Report, August 2021

19 August – 12 September 2021

By Dylan Vasapolli

 

Uganda Custom birding reportThe sought-after Green-breasted Pitta was arguably the main target of the trip, and showed exceptionally well!

 

Overview

 

This custom Uganda birding tour was designed for a single client, with a very specific target list of species wanted. As such, the route would take in virtually all of the primary Ugandan birding sites, with a few exceptions. This would include the main birding circuit centered on the Albertine rift valley in the western half of the country (see details of our Uganda set departure itinerary here), along with the more remote and very infrequently visited eastern section of the country. Despite being run during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, this tour fortunately went by seamlessly with no issues or hassles to speak of.

Beginning in Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria, our birding tour would first take us to the Mbamba Swamps for the mega Shoebill, before heading eastwards to the more remote Pian Upe Game Reserve, and Kidepo Valley National Park where we would spend several days. The tour was done in this order specifically for Green-breasted Pitta (one of the primary target species for the tour), and would result in us getting to Kibale Forest National Park as early as possible. It did however mean we would likely encounter more rain in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest mountains later in the trip, but these areas were not of as much importance, with the client having birded here previously. Following on from our early foray to the east, we would rejoin the main birding circuit at the Royal Mile – Budongo Forest, from where Kibale Forest and Semuliki National Parks were next on the agenda. Time in the more open savanna-dominated Queen Elizabeth National Park would break up the forest birding as we followed on with time in both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Lake Mburo National Park would be our final destination, from where the tour would conclude in Entebbe.

Uganda Custom birding reportMany of the Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, especially in the Ishasha sector, are renowned for sleeping in trees during the heat of the day.

 

This comprehensive tour spanning 25 days (including the arrival day), produced a little shy of 600 species of birds in total, with well over 550 species being seen. This is especially significant given that many of the more common and widespread species were not specifically sought-out, often remaining heard-only or missed entirely. With such a high species list, it is impossible to highlight all the species, but special mention needs to go out to some of the primary targets – all of which were seen well (and many photographed to boot). Green-breasted Pitta was arguably the main target, and after a long and hard search, we were eventually rewarded with incredible views of a bird displaying right in front of us! Special mention also needs to go out to Fox’s Weaver – Uganda’s only endemic bird, which we enjoyed several looks at, including finding a nesting bird! Furthermore, Shoebill, Karamoja Apalis, the massive Black-breasted Barbet, tiny African Dwarf Kingfisher and African Piculet, Nahan’s Partridge, Yellow-footed Flycatcher, Hartlaub’s Duck, a host of Albertine Rift endemic birds topped off with Rwenzori Turaco, Neumann’s Warbler and Regal Sunbird, papyrus restricted species such as Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Papyrus Canary, and the difficult Red-faced Barbet all require mention. Time spent in Uganda is also littered with wonderful encounters of other wildlife, with some great time spent with Chimpanzees and Eastern Gorillas featuring high up there, along with several Lion and Leopard encounters! Forest Hog was another tricky mammal seen, as were several monkeys, such as De Brazza’s and L’hoest’s Monkeys, Semliki and Ashy Red Colobus’ and Grey-cheeked Mangabey.

More detailed information on the species seen are located in the report below, along with the attached lists at the end of the report.

 

Detailed Report

 

Day 1, 20th August 2021. Birding Mabamba Swamp and Entebbe

With a late arrival the previous evening, and a long drive to the Pian Upe area on the 21st of August, we opted to do our Mabamba Swamp trip today, allowing us a bit more free time on the following day. We had a leisurely start to the morning, and found ourselves at the Mabamba Swamps in the late morning, where we boarded our dug-out canoes and were soon sailing off into the swamps. The main target here is the incredible Shoebill, which can usually be seen easily. Although it took a little while, and involved paddling deep into the swamps we were rewarded with incredible views of two Shoebills together (including their bill-clapping display!) for an extended period. These prehistoric-looking giants are one of the most sought-after birds in the world, and our walk-away views left us brimming from ear to ear. We also found an additional two Shoebill in flight, bringing the total of Shoebill seen up to 4!

As it had taken a while to track them down, and spending near 30-minutes watching and observing them, we had limited time on our way back for birding stops, but still added various other species, such as African Marsh Harrier, Purple and Squacco Herons, African Jacana, Black Crake, African Swamphen, Long-toed Lapwing, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Lesser Swamp Warbler and Northern Brown-throated Weaver. Following an interesting ferry journey back to our lodge, we had a good lunch and a short rest, before getting going in the late afternoon. Some rain had fallen, and was sticking around, but we didn’t let the weather deter us. A stop at the Bat Hawk roost in Entebbe was unfortunately unsuccessful, but our stint at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens was more successful. We quickly headed to the lake shore, where we rapidly found the scarce and local Orange Weaver. Winding Cisticola also showed well for us here, before we turned our attention to some of the larger birds of the gardens. We found a big roost of Great Blue Turacos, with up to 8 individuals present in a tree, enjoyed great looks at a few of the monstrous Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, while Ross’s Turaco took a little while to find, but eventually showed well for us too! Other species of interest seen included Palm-nut Vulture, Black Sparrowhawk and the snazzy Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher.

Uganda Custom birding reportThe prehistoric-looking Shoebill is one of the main avian attractions in Uganda – easily being the most reliable place in the world to see this bird.

 

Day 2, 21st August 2021. Transfer to Pian Upe Game Reserve

We had a long day of driving in store for us, as we transferred from Entebbe through to Pian Upe Game Reserve in eastern Uganda. The main reason for visiting this remote reserve is to find the country’s only endemic bird – Fox’s Weaver. This scarce bird was almost thought to be extinct after a spate of no sightings for some time, and survey’s not finding any birds – but have recently been rediscovered in the wider-Pian Upe area. Our birding today was somewhat limited, but we did notch up a stunning African Hobby in Entebbe before we got going. As we neared Pain Upe Game Reserve, we started doing some roadside birding, and added a number of species such as Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Silverbird, Splendid Starling and Northern Red Bishop. Some immense excitement followed, as we picked up on some movement in the road ahead, and found ourselves looking a Leopard crossing the road! We made our way up to the area, and found this stunning cat right next to the road, but all too soon and the Leopard had melted away back into the long grass. We tried for views for a little while, though unsuccessfully. A very threatening bank of dark clouds on the horizon were getting closer and closer, and we decided to press onwards to our lovely lodge – which we arrived at just as it started raining. We checked in and took it easy for the rest of the evening, enjoyed the most evocative sunset with lightening flickering in the clouds, followed by an excellent meal.

 

Day 3, 22nd August 2021. Birding Pian Upe Game Reserve

Today was an exciting day as we went off in search of a host of scarce and highly localized birds of the Pian Upe area – with the two main targets being the recently rediscovered Fox’s Weaver and Karamoja Apalis. We didn’t have to wait long for our first bit of excitement as we stumbled onto a massive African Rock Python while searching for calling Stone Partridges right next to our lodge. We had to leave the Stone Partridges as a heard only, as we headed off in search of our main targets. Bird activity was high, and we made slow progress with a number of regular stops with various exciting species such as Fox Kestrel, Black Coucal, Nubian Woodpecker, Western Black-headed Batis, Green-backed Eremomela, Pale Prinia and Red-pate Cisticola all drawing our attention. Before we knew it, Bosco our sharp-eyed driver/guide latched onto a weaver and on closer inspection it turned out to be our main quarry – Fox’s Weaver! We managed to get incredible views of this sought-after species, before it melted back into the woodland. It wasn’t 5-minutes later, and we were enjoying our other main target of the day – Karamoja Apalis. Here we had more extended views of a small family of this highly localized and poorly-known species. We continued onwards stumbling into another Fox’s Weaver in a village, we followed it and it led us straight to a nesting tree – where the male was actively defending its nests from some nosy Chestnut Sparrows and Cut-throat Finches, along with doing some maintenance on them as well. It was a slightly strange setting seeing this highly prized species in the middle of a village, but we soaked up our views before leaving the birds be.

Uganda Custom birding reportFox’s Weaver is Uganda’s only endemic bird, and was up until recently thought to be extinct. They have been found in the Pian Upe area, and we were extremely fortunate to see this species!

 

A break for lunch followed, and despite it being pretty hot outside, the camp was full of birds and we added the likes of Great Spotted Cuckoo, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Red-headed Weaver, Fawn-breasted Waxbill and Yellow-spotted Bush Sparrow. We had a bit of time off in the mid-afternoon before resuming later in the day, and just as we were gearing up to get going again, a very impressive storm-front rolled through. Fortunately it kept clear of us, but we enjoyed some dramatic skylines for the rest of the afternoon. The whole Pian Upe area lies in a drainage area, collecting water from all of the surrounding hills – and the region was very wet already with rains having begun a bit earlier than usual. This did mean that many of the tracks through the reserve were not passable, but we tried our hand at one track this afternoon. We were able to make it a fair way down, before getting to an area of thick mud and almost getting properly stuck – but we didn’t want to risk anything, and turned around and started making our way back to our lodge. The afternoon was fairly quiet by comparison to the morning, but we did enjoy an excellent Clapperton’s Spurfowl parading in the track, a few of the snazzy Bruce’s Green Pigeons sitting up, adult Black Coucals to go with our great sighting of a few juveniles in the morning, Reichenow’s Seedeater and a Ugandan rarity in the form of a Dusky Indigobird – a bird seen (and heard) at length. Following a mightily successful day, we settled in for the evening, enjoying another dramatic sunset over this stunning part of the country!

 

Day 4, 23rd August 2021. Transfer from Pian Upe to Moroto

We had a relatively short transfer in store for us today as we headed to Moroto, on the lower slopes of Mount Moroto. The morning was set aside as a backup should we still be missing any of the major Pian Upe specials, such as Fox’s Weaver, but with us having been so successful the previous day, we opted for a long birding walk around the camp, before setting off. Stone Partridges were high on our target list, and once again we could easily hear them, but it took some patience (and careful positioning) to ensure we were able to see over six of these special birds – with good (albeit through some grass) and lengthy views. Mosque Swallows graced the skies, while areas of thicker vegetation held the likes of Klaas’s Cuckoo, African Grey Woodpecker and Lesser Honeyguide, and a surprise Boran Cisticola (previously considered a Uganda rarity, and not know from this specific area) turned up on the grassy slopes of a hill. Fruiting figs were another hive of activity and searching through various trees produced Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Black-billed Barbet, Green-backed Eremomela and Wattled and Lesser Blue-eared Starlings.

We then started the transfer north to Moroto, where we would be breaking the long drive to Kidepo Valley National Park for a single night. As we headed north, the vegetation started changing and became much drier, and we bumped into White-bellied Go-away-bird, Jackson’s Hornbill and the stunning Abyssinian Roller. We arrived at our well-suited lodge in Moroto, and set off in the afternoon for some birding on the lower slopes of Mount Moroto. We didn’t make it too far, before rain clouds quickly appeared and we had to seek cover, waiting out the worst of the rain for a little while. We then got a call that our driver had gotten stuck, but were fortunately able to extract ourselves fairly quickly, before resuming our walk with the weather more settled now. It was not the ‘birdiest’ of walks, but we did enjoy stunning White-headed Saw-wings, comical Green Wood-Hoopoe, scarce Dusky Turtle-Dove, snazzy Vitelline Masked Weaver and a few of the dainty Western Citrils.

Uganda Custom birding reportLocalized Clapperton’s Spurfowls were seen on a few occasions in the eastern parts of Uganda.

 

Day 5, 24th August 2021. Transfer to Kidepo Valley National Park

With another long transfer up to Kidepo Valley ahead, we had an early start to get there in good time, along with allowing for some time birding en-route. Passing through the dry acacia thornveld of the Bokora-Matheniko Game Reserve was extremely productive and we had some superb birding stops. Quite literally, hundreds of Namaqua Doves, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers and White-browed Sparrow-Weavers littered the roadside, while Northern White-crowned Shrike and Superb Starling were also numerous. We had a stunning sighting of a showy pair of Slate-colored Boubous, and nearby a Grey Wren-Warbler showed equally as well. More open areas held the likes of Black-headed Lapwing, Black Coucal and White-throated Bee-eater, as Abyssinian and Purple Rollers and Northern Red-billed Hornbills watched over them. We had some incredible luck with whydahs, as we ran into all four possible species, and three of them within the same view. A lovely Steel-blue Whydah kicked things off, while Pin-tailed and Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs were numerous, before we rounded things off with an incredibly confiding Straw-tailed Whydah. Other interesting species noted here were Pygmy Falcon, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Chestnut and Speckle-fronted Weavers and the large Parrot-billed Sparrow. Farther along, open agricultural areas held Heuglin’s Wheatear, and closer to Kidepo species such as Fox Kestrel, Lanner Falcon and Red-winged Starling were seen. We checked into our lovely lodge with great views over the valley, before resuming our birding with a walk around the grounds in the late afternoon. It was fairly quiet, but flowering aloes held numbers of Scarlet-chested and Marico Sunbirds, while the rest of the grounds gave up the likes of White-bellied Go-away-bird, Silverbird, White-bellied Tit and Brown-tailed Rock Chat, amongst others. The lodge was also a great vantage point to watch the skies and some careful scanning had us enjoying the many swifts and practicing our ID skills – Mottled, African Black and Nyanza were all seen well. Raptors seen from here included White-headed and Lappet-faced Vultures, Martial and Tawny Eagles and Bateleur. A surprise came in the form of a Red-winged Lark along the entrance road. We called it a day, excited and ready for our full day in the Kidepo valley tomorrow.

Uganda Custom birding reportThe incredible Straw-tailed Whydah was a major highlight en-route to the Kidepo valley.

 

Day 6, 25th August 2021. Birding Kidepo Valley National Park

We had a full day to explore the riches of Kidepo Valley National Park. We had our eyes firmly set on the magnificent Black-breasted Barbet for the morning. En-route to the site, we enjoyed seeing some charismatic plains birds such as White-backed Vulture, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Piapiac, along with some game such as Plains Zebra, African Buffalo and Hartebeest. On arriving at the barbet site, which is in itself a stunning scenically well-wooded rocky hill, bird activity was low, and we eked out species such as Greater Honeyguide (making its chatter call – trying to lead us to a beehive), Mocking Cliff-Chat and Red-headed Weaver, before the incredible White-crested Turaco provided a brief bit of respite. We worked the area long and hard, and just as we were about to call time, a few hours in, we picked up on a faint call, and some diligent scanning had us locating a single Black-breasted Barbet perched atop a distant tree. We worked our way closer and closer, enjoying good, albeit slightly distant views of this highly sought-after bird (and its massive bill!). We enjoyed our time with the bird for a while, before it disappeared, and we weren’t able to relocate it, despite a dedicated search. We also picked up Foxy Cisticola here – another of our target species! With the time late morning now, we pressed on with a brief game drive, exploring some of the open plains and floodplains, before making our way back for lunch and an afternoon rest. Coucal’s abounded and we enjoyed Black, Senegal and White-browed, while masses of Cardinal and Red-billed Queleas flitted about. A patch of small acacia’s held Brubru and Northern Crombec, and open areas of ground had Plain-backed Pipit and a fair number of Quailfinches. Both Moustached Grass Warbler and Fan-tailed Grassbird took a while to see, but persistence paid off with good views.

Our lunch break was a lot more satisfactory with the barbet under our belt. We resumed in the afternoon, and explored a few different tracks, before heading over to try for the barbet once more and see if we could improve on our views. Numbers of Clapperton’s Spurfowls lined the roads, and a brief sighting of an African Crake left us wanting more, as did an Allen’s Gallinule. Black Crake showed exceptionally well, and nearby we enjoyed watching a secretive Highland Rush Warbler. A quick stop in at the Apoka camp yielded Side-striped Jackal and Grey-capped Social Weaver. An impressive storm had passed over the barbet site, while we were exploring other parts of the park, and the track was a bit slippery getting there. Sadly, we had to go without the barbet in the afternoon, as a dedicated search failed to turn up the bird again – though we had a brief sighting of Stone Partridge (and heard a few groups calling close by in the rocks). We enjoyed a massive herd of African Buffalo on our way out that must have numbered close to 1,000 strong. After dinner, we set off for a night drive, which was by and large fairly quiet especially on the birding front. A lovely Verreaux’s Eagle Owl was the only bird seen, while mammals were more varied and included Central African Large-spotted Genet, Northern Lesser Bushbaby, numbers of African Savannah Hares and the large White-tailed Mongoose.

 

 

Day 7, 26th August 2021. Birding Kidepo and transfer to Masindi

Today was largely a travel day as we made the trek from the Kidepo valley in the very north-eastern part of the country, to Masindi – located more centrally. As such, we only had a limited time span in the morning available for birding and we dedicated our morning to the scarce and highly sought-after Ring-necked Francolin. We headed out at first light, bumping into a Freckled Nightjar and Side-striped Jackal along the road, and arrived at our area at daybreak. We slowly explored the open woodlands here for some time, stopping and listening regularly, until we eventually heard a distant Ring-necked Francolin call. The calling was very intermittent and it took us a long while to determine that it wasn’t possible to get anywhere near that particular bird, and we carried on. We did manage to locate some calling Ring-necked Francolins much closer to us, and headed off in pursuit. The long grass was certainly against us, as it was waist-to-chest high, but we first tried flattening a long section of grass and calling the birds into the opening once we were right on them. Sadly this was unsuccessful, and with the birds losing interest and going further away our time had all but run out, and we reluctantly had to call it a morning, with the birds going unseen. We then settled in for a long drive, arriving at Masindi in the late afternoon, where a quick spell of birding in the surrounding farmlands yielded a stunning group of Brown Twinspots which showed well, along with Brown-backed Scrub Robin, African Yellow Warbler, Baglafecht Weaver and Black Bishop.

 

Day 8, 27th August 2021. Birding the Royal Mile, Budongo Forest Reserve

The Royal Mile section of the Budongo Forest Reserve is always a special site, home to a host of excellent species, and a highlight on any tour. We had a full day at our disposal to cover the forest and surrounds, and we started off in the farmlands on the outskirts with Raymond, our excellent local guide. We couldn’t have gotten off to a better start with an excellent suite of species in a short time period. A small group of Grey-headed Olivebacks gave some brief views early on leaving us wanting a bit more, and rewarded us a short while later with much better and extended views after some patience. The long grass was alive with birds, and careful scanning revealed the likes of Marsh Tchagra, Compact Weaver, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Black Bishop and Red-headed Quelea, while some scrubby areas nearby held Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Brown Twinspot, African Firefinch and Cabanis’s Bunting. Before long, we found ourselves on the entrance road to the forest with a quick stop for stunning looks at White-thighed Hornbill. The forest was fairly quiet, and we had to work hard to get views of our target species, but one by one they fell, and by the end of the day, we had knocked off a fair number of our targets. Forest-based kingfishers are always high on the target list, and both Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers were seen very well after some work. A calling Ituri Batis took us a while to track down from the upper canopy, but we eventually managed some good views, while Chestnut-capped Flycatcher and Rufous-crowned Eremomela showed well with comparatively little effort. An incredibly confiding pair of Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoos gave us unbeatable views and left us brimming from ear to ear. A small group of Spotted Greenbuls with their unique habits were admired, before we found a stunning Crowned Eagle perched high up giving us unobstructed views! Forest Robin certainly played tough with us, but with some persistence and a great deal of effort we were rewarded with excellent point-blank views of this shy species! A group of Scaly-breasted Illadopsis also showed well after a bit of work. We enjoyed a number of sunbirds in the forest as well, with Superb, Blue-throated Brown, Little Green, Grey-chinned and Olive Sunbirds all being seen. Some threatening clouds, thunder and some light rain made for an interesting afternoon, but didn’t amount to anything severe. Content with the many excellent birds we enjoyed throughout the day, we bade our farewell to Raymond and settled in for the evening back around our Masindi hotel.

Uganda Custom birding reportDelightful Brown Twinspots showed well in the scrubby thickets on the outskirts of Masindi, and on the edge of the Budongo Forest.

 

Day 9, 28th August 2021. Transfer to Kibale, and introductory birding

With a long transfer from Masindi to Kibale, we got going in the morning, stopping off at some papyrus swamps en-route. While our primary target Marsh Widowbird eluded us, we had some good birding adding a number of species, with some of the better species going to a lovely Red-necked Falcon, along with the likes of Marsh Tchagra, Thick-billed and Slender-billed Weavers, Black-crowned and Fawn-breasted Waxbills, Yellow-mantled Widowbird and Black Bishop. We arrived at our comfortable lodge in Kibale in time for a late lunch, before a short siesta and some afternoon birding back in the Kibale Forest. Lowland Masked Apalis eluded us in the afternoon despite a lengthy search, but by and large we enjoyed an excellent afternoon spell of birding. A group of Black Bee-eaters gave us great and extended views, while bare trees held a pair of Chestnut-winged Starling and a few of the strange Grey-throated Barbets. Alpine Swift and Narrow-tailed Starling gave us fly-by views, while we enjoyed excellent looks at a male African Emerald Cuckoo. A group of Ashy Red Colobus were a welcome distraction from the birds, but all too soon we were back at it, enjoying looks at a range of barbets; Hairy-breasted and Yellow-spotted Barbets, along with Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds all showed well, virtually side-by-side. A feeding party provided some late excitement harboring Dusky Tit and Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, amongst others. We settled in for the evening, full of anticipation for the following day.

 

Day 10, 29th August 2021. Birding Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park has become synonymous with Green-breasted Pittas and Chimpanzees over recent years, and these two attractions would be our key targets for the day. We started off bright and early, and soon found ourselves in the forest listening for Green-breasted Pitta. We were a bit late in the season, and it wasn’t totally unexpected that we learned from our excellent local guide, Justus that it had been almost 2 weeks since the last sighting. Indeed, it proved a long morning as we searched high and low for any sign, call or movement of Green-breasted Pitta – all without success. With our focus being fairly narrow, we didn’t pay attention to everything that was calling around us, but during our morning we did eke out the likes of the sometimes tricky White-throated Greenbul, Western Oriole, Brown-chested Alethe and White-tailed Ant-Thrush. A small group of Chimpanzees that wandered by right alongside us, unperturbed by our presence was a much-welcomed, although brief, distraction during our search. Another species we had on our radar was Red-chested Owlet, and we were eventually rewarded with excellent views after a prolonged search. While we had ran into Chimpanzees earlier in the morning, we still had the exciting Chimpanzee tracking coming up as well – and our initial attempt proved unsuccessful, with no sight or sound of the Chimpanzees in the midday heat, and we opted to rather break for lunch and try again in the afternoon. This was far more successful, and some great views (and photos) and wonderful encounters were had of these great apes, as they went about their business. The afternoon search involved quite a bit of walking and as such, the birding took a bit of a backseat, with rain later in the day putting paid to our attempts to try and get some final birding in. After a day of mixed results, we settled in for the evening, ready to try again the following day.

Uganda Custom birding reportRed-chested Owlet was a ‘standout’ species seen in the Kibale Forest National Park.

 

Day 11, 30th August 2021. Birding Kibale, and transfer to Semuliki National Park

With the near-mythical Green-breasted Pitta being one of the main tour targets, and still firmly in our sights, we set off early once more to try and track this special bird down. We were far more optimistic following the previous evenings rain, the first rain for a short while, that the birds would be calling. We had a slow start to the morning with no sight or sound of our quarry, but did improve on our views of Brown-chested Alethe, while a shy Red-tailed Ant Thrush kept to the thickets. A singing Western Nicator in the open was another highlight, before mid-morning came and our huge effort paid off, with great coordination between our local guides and park rangers turned up a pair of Green-breasted Pittas! We started off with views of the birds hopping along the ground feeding, before we were treated to the most amazing display from one of the birds – all of our hard work rewarded. Completely out in the open, we watched in awe as this rare species hopped up and down for quite some time, producing its strange mechanical wing-clapping call leaving us all a bit speechless. High-fives all round, and we made our way out the forest to try and quickly clean up on some of the other species that we hadn’t yet been able to try for. The scarce Lowland Masked Apalis appeared within seconds after arriving into the area, and gave us great views!

Uganda Custom birding reportLowland Masked Apalis is a scarce resident of the Kibale Forest area.

 

We then spent some time exploring some of the community lands surrounding the forest adding species such as White-throated Bee-eater, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Bronzy Sunbird and Magpie Mannikin, amongst others. A quick stop at the BEARC (Bigodi Ecotourism and Agricultural Research Centre) was incredibly productive, despite the searing midday heat. A pair of Yellow-billed Barbets hopped out in the open for us, before we found first a male, and then a female Speckle-breasted Woodpecker – a tricky species anywhere. While enjoying a group of lively White-chinned Prinias, a lovely pair of Lühder’s Bushshrikes popped up and started duetting, again giving us excellent views! Our walk ended off with a bang as we found a pair of the shy Red-headed Bluebill – which again gave us great looks – amongst a hive of other birds. Following a late lunch, we gathered our things, and set off to Semuliki National Park stopping along the way at a small wetland, which produced a small group of the scarce White-collared Olivebacks. These small finches were feeding in the long grass and too gave us great looks. After making our way down the steep descent, we soon found ourselves in the lowland of Semuliki, where we settled in for the evening. A pair of African Wood Owls around the camp capped off a truly wonderful, and bird-filled day!

 

Day 12, 31st August 2021. Birding Semuliki National Park

We woke up excited for our full day within the lowland forest of Semuliki National Park. This reserve is unique in Uganda, being essentially an extension of the central African lowland forest, and thus holds a number of interesting and poorly known species. We were joined by Alex, an excellent local guide and park ranger for the day. We started off in the hot springs area where the patch of forest produced a brief White-crested Hornbill and excellent views of a pair of White-spotted Flufftails. The open sections surrounding the impressive hot springs proved an excellent place to watch over the surrounding forest. A pair of the massive Black-casqued Hornbills graced the skyline, while a huge flock of African Green Pigeons were disturbed by a young Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle flying by. We also enjoyed looks at the snazzy De Brazza’s Monkey out in the open, before we picked up on our main quarry – White-naped Pigeon, which showed very well. A few stops along the main road netted us Willcock’s Honeyguide and a pair of Orange-cheeked Waxbills, before we set off along the main Kirumya Trail running into the primary lowland forest.

Activity early on rewarded us with the tricky Yellow-eyed Bristlebill, along with Xavier’s Greenbul and Olive-green Camaroptera. Red-bellied Helmetshrike was heard calling, but despite some intensive searching couldn’t be located, while a vocal pair of Nahan’s Partridge showed exceptionally well. As we pressed on deeper into the forest, we started trying for some the more typical central African species. The highly sought-after Yellow-throated Cuckoo put on a great show for us, as did a small family of Yellow-footed Flycatchers. Chestnut-breasted Nigrita were active as well, before major excitement ensued as we located a stunning male African Piculet – which gave us great and extended looks. Red-tailed Leaflove and Banded Prinia were also seen, and a small section of an oxbow lake delivered first a Shining-blue Kingfisher, before we found a Hartlaub’s Duck perched up. We couldn’t believe our luck and soaked up incredible views of this rare species, as it was drying off its feathers in a tree above the water. With the day mostly gone, and very threatening thunder and dark clouds looming, we beat a hasty retreat to avoid the real-risk of having to cross a flooded depression, should the rain increase the levels. Numbers of Forest Robins were seen flitting around on the pathway on the return journey. Both the tricky Grant’s Bluebill and Black-bellied Seedcracker were seen during the day, but our views left us wanting a bit more, while other interesting species seen included Piping Hornbill and Red-tailed Ant-Thrush, amongst many others. Fortunately, we made it back without having a deluge of rain, and it fizzled out into nothing, leaving us to enjoy the sunset over the forest – rounding off a great and highly successful day of birding.

Uganda Custom birding reportA pair of Yellow-footed Flycatchers call to one another in the lowland forest of Semuliki.

 

Day 13, 1st September 2021. Transfer from Semuliki to Queen Elizabeth National Park

With a few hours available for birding in the morning, we explored the hot springs area once more where we were able to spend more time. Despite the cooler overcast conditions, it was an extremely quiet morning with very few birds calling. It took a while for us to track down White-crested Hornbill, but we were rewarded with far better views than we had yesterday. The only other notable birds came from the hot springs where some careful scanning revealed two Greater Painted-snipes – a scarce bird anywhere, along with other shorebirds such as Wood and Common Sandpipers and Three-banded Plovers, while a shy flock of Crested Guineafowls roamed the surrounding forest. We returned to camp, gathered our things and began the journey to Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we arrived in the late afternoon. After crossing by ferry over the Kazinga Channel (with the bridge under repairs) and arriving at our comfortable lodge, we set off for a quick spell of birding around the lodge. While not a bird, Forest Hog is an important mammal species that is reliable here, and was our primary target. Fortunately, we found a single Forest Hog with little effort, enjoying our sighting for a short while before it disappeared. A variety of widespread species were seen including Brown and Black-chested Snake Eagles, Pink-backed Pelican, Pied Kingfisher, Hamerkop, Black-headed Gonolek, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Swamp Flycatcher and Red-chested Sunbird. We settled in for the evening, looking forward to what the following day would hold!

 

Day 14, 2nd September 2021. Birding Queen Elizabeth National Park

We had an early start as we made our way over to the Kasenyi sector of the park, where we would spend the morning. Our first obstacle was to get over the Kazinga channel via the ferry, as work had recently begun on the bridge over the channel. While we were waiting, we snuck off to the nearby papyrus and enjoyed some superb birding in the early morning. A trio of the colorful Papyrus Gonoleks gave us excellent and prolonged looks, before we managed to bring in the skulking White-winged Swamp Warbler – which too showed exceptionally well! The area was a hive of activity, with other species evident being Black Crake, Grey-capped Warbler, Winding Cisticola, Swamp Flycatcher and in the surrounding brush, Golden-backed Weaver. After the ferry obstacle, our next challenge was getting in at the gate – the new system that had been implemented as of 1st September was unfortunately ‘down’, and we had to wait over an hour before things cleared up and we could enter, with the better part of the morning already spent. Lively Lesser Masked Weavers, Mourning Collared Doves, vocal Diederik Cuckoos and stunning Marico Sunbirds kept us company while we waited. Once we got going, we made the most of the morning, picking up the tricky White-tailed Lark fairly soon, along with others such as the sought-after Temminck’s Courser, Collared Pratincole and Black-lored Babbler. An African Crake calling from thickets a little ways off the road sadly couldn’t be drawn into view, but we had to make do with two adolescent Lions making their ways up into the Euphorbia’s – where they sat in a somewhat precarious (and surely uncomfortable) position and began to get some rest. While enjoying a host of Kob at their ‘mating grounds’, we picked up on a large shorebird and quickly discovered it to be a major rarity for the country – Pacific Golden Plover. We spent some time watching the bird as it roamed the plains and was occasionally flushed by the Kob, before leaving the bird be and continuing on. Raptors became more obvious as the day started to heat up, with numbers of White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures taking to the skies, joining the likes of the many Bateleur. We stopped for lunch at the crater lake, where we enjoyed a picturesque view of the salt pans and works below, with Lesser Flamingos in view. A great deal of other species were seen during the morning, including Red-necked Spurfowl, Kittlitz’s Plover, Senegal Lapwing, Western Black-headed Batis, Flappet Lark, Red-breasted Swallow, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Southern Red Bishop, amongst others.

Uganda Custom birding reportAfrican Skimmers are always a highlight on the Kazinga Channel.

We then made our way onwards to the Mweya Peninsula, where we would undertake a mid-afternoon boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel. We had an extremely fruitful few hours as we slowly worked our way up and down the channel. A large flock of African Skimmers put on a great show for us, while a number of various wading birds patrolled the edges such as Goliath Heron, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Stork, Spur-winged Lapwing and Water Thick-knee. The hyacinth on the water’s edge hosted Black Crake, African Jacana, Squacco Heron and the jewel-like Malachite Kingfisher. Hundreds of Pied Kingfishers nested along the riverbanks, and while enjoying them we picked up on the surprise bird of the trip – going to a Brown-chested Lapwing on the shoreline. The ‘sanctuary’ area hosted a massive roost of waterbirds, and here we enjoyed the swathes of Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, various storks, herons, egrets, White-breasted Cormorants and Grey-headed Gulls, along with a few shorebirds such as Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, and another scarce Ugandan bird, Ruddy Turnstone. Mammals abounded on the cruise with the herds of African Elephants, mass numbers of African Buffalo and Hippopotamus, and others such as Kob and Waterbuck all showing well for us. Following a great cruise, we made our way back to the lodge, crossing the ferry with limited issue, before settling in for a wonderful dinner. A short night drive following dinner was productive and yielded numbers of Square-tailed Nightjars and a single Black-shouldered Nightjar.

 

Day 15, 3rd September 2021. Birding Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth National Park

We had an early start as we made the journey from our lodge to the very southern Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The sector is famous for its tree-climbing Lions – who use the many figs in the area to seek some respite from the heat, and would naturally be a target for us. Our first goal, however, was finding African Crake, after missing it yesterday. Fortunately, we quickly located two calling birds, and after some careful positioning and patience were rewarded with great looks at this prized rallid, as it wandered into the open for us. We got word that Lions had been seen, and in a short while, we were watching two male Lions stretched out in a large fig. We soaked in some great views of these massive cats, before resuming our birding. It was fairly warm, and activity was limited, but we did manage to find species such Saddle-billed Stork, Ross’s Turaco, Brown-chested Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, White-throated Bee-eater, Trilling Cisticola and Purple-banded Sunbird, amidst huge herds of Topi, Kob and African Buffalo. Raptors also became obvious with the likes of Lappet-faced and White-backed Vultures, Martial, Tawny and Wahlberg’s Eagles and Bateleur all flying about.

Stopping at a small roadside puddle yielded another major surprise when we found a Forbes’s Plover feeding in it. This is a scarce vagrant to Uganda, being predominantly an equatorial-West African species that only very occasionally wanders as far east as Uganda and is not regular at all! Not 20 meters down the road we found another Forbes’s Plover, that showed even better! We couldn’t believe our luck, and headed to our lunch stop, overlooking the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) still full of adrenaline. We managed to add a few species to our DRC list, with various raptors flying overhead, along with a lovely Cassin’s Flycatcher on the DRC bank of the river. We slowly made our way back out the park, trying for a Leopard that had been seen earlier in the day to no avail, though adding a few more species such as Common Buttonquail, Little Weaver and Crimson-rumped Waxbill. After a wonderful morning in the Ishasha sector, we pressed onwards to Buhoma, where we arrived in the late afternoon and settled in for a restful afternoon – which proved to be a good call as the heavens soon opened up.

Uganda Custom birding reportForbes’s Plover is a rare species in Uganda – being more predominant in equatorial West Africa. This was one of several rare and uncommon shorebirds seen on this tour.

 

Day 16, 4th September 2021. Gorilla tracking at Buhoma

Today was our ‘Gorilla tracking day’, and following the local songs and dances, Tim set off to track the ‘M’ (Mubare) Group of Eastern (Mountain) Gorillas. As always, time spent with these gentle giants is special, and despite the on and off rain throughout the tracking, great photos and excellent views were had – memories to cherish for a lifetime. Still feeling up for some birding, we set off later in the afternoon and birded the first part of the Buhoma Trail, where we tried to track down some specials. We had a wonderfully productive afternoon, enjoying many great and extended looks at first a Grey-winged Robin-Chat, and then the shy Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, which showed uncharacteristically well! Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Pink-footed Puffback and Bocage’s Bushshrike kept to the canopies, while some of the thickets in the lower strata held species such as Buff-throated Apalis and Black-billed Weaver, along with a roosting African Wood Owl. Before we knew it, we were starting to lose the light and with rain starting up again, we called it a day and settled in for the evening.

Uganda Custom birding reportBlue-shouldered Robin-Chat is a very difficult bird to see – we were thrilled with our views!

 

Day 17, 5th September 2021. Birding Buhoma

Armed with our packed lunches, we set off early in the morning for a full day birding on the Buhoma Trail. Bird activity was a bit slow to start off with, but we managed to get both the Albertine Rift Endemic Red-throated Alethe and the tricky Equatorial Akalat early on, along with our first Kakamega Greenbuls for the day (we’d go on to see quite a few through the day). The glorious Bar-tailed Trogon was next to fall, and we enjoyed stellar views of this sought-after species, while a vocal White-bellied Robin-Chat kept to the thickets and left us wanting more. The forest was quiet for long periods of time, but we eventually come across a feeding party of birds, usually led by vocal Red-tailed Greenbuls. Careful searching of these parties throughout the day produced White-headed Wood-Hoopoe, Buff-spotted and Tullberg’s Woodpeckers, Ansorge’s and Cabanis’s Greenbuls, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Pink-footed Puffback, White-tailed Ant-Thrush, Grey-headed Sunbird and Dusky Tit, amongst others. Black-faced Rufous Warbler eventually rewarded us with great views after trying a number of individuals. The difficult and recently described Willard’s Sooty Boubou took a while to track down, but eventually we found the bird and after some work, enjoyed good views of this prized species. Our efforts then moved over towards another difficult species – Neumann’s Warbler. This tiny bird loves deep and dark tangles, keeps low to the ground in thick vegetation, and in summary, is usually a nightmare to see. We found a vocal individual without too much effort, and spent the next while trying to see the bird. Initial fleeting views left us wanting more, but persistence and a lot of patience went a long way as the bird eventually moved to an open area, and we enjoyed some excellent views of this shy bird! As the afternoon progressed onwards, we were able to better our views of White-bellied Robin-Chat from this morning, with a few individuals that showed well, and also added Blue-headed Sunbird to the list, before some ominous clouds, followed by thunder sent us on our way back. The beautiful Black Bee-eater was seen perched in the open in great light on our way back, along with Sooty Flycatchers nearby, before the rain began, and we promptly made our way back to the start of the trail, where we loaded up relatively unscathed, and settled in for the evening.

 

Day 18, 6th September 2021. Transfer to Ruhija, birding en-route

Ross’s Turaco and Bronzy Sunbird were noted around our lodge, before we checked out, bound for the higher elevations of the Ruhija section of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We spent some time birding at ‘The Neck’, which we transit through en-route, and enjoyed a few feeding flocks and some good species. Black Bee-eaters flitted from the treetops, with a group of Scarce Swifts reeling about overhead, while the canopies of the large trees delivered the scarce Chapin’s Flycatcher and a Many-colored Bushshrike that left us wanting a bit more. Feeding flocks were again mostly heralded by Red-tailed Greenbuls, and within them we picked up the likes of Least Honeyguide, White-browed Crombec, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Ansorge’s and Kakamega Greenbuls, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Tiny Sunbird and Red-headed Malimbe. After some patience we enjoyed great looks at the shy Black-faced Rufous Warbler, while the picturesque river running through the forest held Mountain Wagtail and Cassin’s Flycatcher.

Following on from ‘The Neck’, we spent some time in open brush areas searching for primarily the scarce Dusky Twinspot. After an extensive search, we eventually found a single bird, but our views were less than ideal, and it took quite some time until we got great and more extended views! As it usually happens, once we were finally satisfied with our views, we quickly found a second bird, and a number of other individuals piped up and began calling. A number of other species were present and kept us entertained while we were hunting for the twinspot. Chubb’s and Singing Cisticolas were noisily calling from exposed perches, while small groups of Yellow-bellied Waxbills flitted around. Flowering Coral Trees held numbers of Bronzy Sunbirds, with Streaky Seedeater and Yellow-crowed Canary also feeding in the flowers. We also added our first African Stonechat and Dusky-blue Flycatcher. We arrived in Ruhija in the late afternoon and were contemplating a short walk nearby, but the heavens opened up and rain thwarted our efforts.

 

Day 19, 7th September 2021. Birding Ruhija and the Mubwindi Swamp

Today was our birding trek down from Ruhija into the valleys below, and ultimately down to the Mubwindi Swamp. The prime reason for this hike is that the valleys near the Mubwindi Swamp are one of only two reliable localities for the mythical Grauer’s (African Green) Broadbill (the other being in remote DRC). A pair of these birds nest annually in the area, and are usually reliable in and around their nesting period (May – August). Outside of this period, the birds leave the nest and roam around and are far less reliable. Sadly, we fell straight into this latter group, with the birds having left the nest around 3 weeks prior to our visit and fewer and fewer sightings coming through in recent days. Nonetheless, we would still give it a shot. We had a lovely start to the morning, with not only a dramatic sunrise, but also a load of good birds. A Mountain Illadopsis showed briefly, before we struck gold and found a small group of Dusky Crimsonwings that took a little work to see, but we eventually enjoyed some good looks at these shy Albertine rift endemics. A flock of noisy White-headed Woodhoopoes provided some entertainment, as we added a number of further Albertine rift endemics with the likes of Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori and Mountain Masked Apalises, Blue-headed Sunbird, Strange Weaver and the shy Rwenzori Hill Babbler all showing well! It took a few tries, but we eventually enjoyed some good looks at Mountain Illadopsis. The star of the morning undoubtedly went to Archer’s Ground Robin, and the excellent and close-up views we enjoyed of this shy and skulking endemic. After making it down to the bottom valleys, we spent a while searching in and around the traditional haunts for the Grauer’s Broadbill, including around its recent nest, but all without sight or sound of the bird.

Eventually, we had to call it, and progress onwards to the swamp, where after enjoying our lunch break, we enjoyed some great scope views of the shy Grauer’s Swamp Warbler. We also had Carruthers’s Cisticola here, and added our first Regal Sunbird, though the views left us wanting a bit more. A vocal African Rail pair sadly couldn’t be coaxed from the reeds, but we did enjoy some good scope views of Black-billed Turaco. We worked hard for White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, and eventually came up with the bird, while a calling Dwarf Honeyguide also went by unseen. With cloud cover starting to move in, and the first thunder rumblings beginning, we took this as our cue and started our journey back to the top. We made it about halfway before the heavens opened and we had a major downpour for about 15 minutes, from where it gradually eased up. With the slick and very muddy trail, going was slow up to the top, but we all made it up in one piece, and warmed up in front of the fire with a cup of tea in hand, settling in for the rest of the afternoon.

Uganda Custom birding reportArcher’s Ground Robin is a shy forest denizen. We fortunately encountered a few confiding birds on the hike to Mubwindi Swamp.

 

Day 20, 8th September 2021. Transfer from Ruhija to Kisoro, birding en-route

We had the morning to spend in and around Ruhija, and we had two primary targets on our radar – Handsome Spurfowl and Purple-breasted Sunbird. We searched high and low for both species, and had to settle just for the Handsome Spurfowl, of which we had good views, after a lengthy search. Despite missing the sunbird, we had a great morning, and enjoyed a wealth of other birds. Flocks of Waller’s Starlings commuted by overhead, while noisy White-headed Wood-Hoopoes and Black-billed Turacos kept to the canopies. A Rwenzori Batis played hide and seek with us, but eventually showed well. Regal Sunbird also took a few tries, but a stunning male richly rewarded our efforts with excellent looks, with Northern Double-collared Sunbird close by for comparison. Flowering trees also held Blue-headed and Collared Sunbirds, while seeding grasses had Yellow-bellied and the stunning Kandt’s Waxbills in attendance. A Grauer’s Warbler frustrated us by remaining deep within the thickets, but as it wasn’t a primary target, we devoted the bulk of our time to other species. Before we knew it, we were well past our time allotment for the morning, and made our way out of the Bwindi highlands towards Lake Bunyoni, where we would try and find the difficult and highly localized Papyrus Yellow Warbler. Fortunately, we didn’t have to search for too long, before we found an extremely cooperative Papyrus Yellow Warbler, that gave us excellent views! The surrounding area was birdy and also turned up other difficult-to-see warblers such as Greater Swamp and White-winged Swamp Warblers, Carruthers’s Cisticola, Swamp Flycatcher, dashing Bronzy Sunbirds and Streaky Seedeaters. Our last port of call for the day was the Echuya Forest Reserve where we spent a productive late afternoon birding along the edge of the road. Bird activity was high, and we enjoyed the likes of Albertine Rift Endemics such as Rwenzori and Mountain Masked Apalises, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Regal Sunbird and Strange Weaver. Other exciting species seen included great and close views of Mountain Illadopsis, White-starred Robin, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Mountain Yellow Warbler and Black Cuckooshrike, amongst others. We arrived at our lodge in Kisoro, where we settled in for the evening.

 

Day 21, 9th September 2021. Birding Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Aside from the incredible beauty of the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park with its picturesque volcanoes, another of the major drawcards is the ease at which several tricky and more localized Albertine Rift Endemics can be seen. One of the easier targets is Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, and indeed it was one of the first species we found early on the trail – enjoying an extremely confiding male! As the day progressed, we found many more of these stunning sunbirds, often enjoying them with another stunner – Regal Sunbird. This is perhaps also one of the most accessible places for Doherty’s Bushsrike, and while it took a few goes, we eventually found a bird that was willing to show, and indeed gave us great looks! Dwarf Honeyguide is a tricky species anywhere, and we got lucky finding a bird near the trail without too much effort. However, arguably the main avian attraction for the park is Rwenzori Turaco, and we had to search high and low today before we finally found one, at the eleventh hour. In the midst of the dense bamboo, the bird proved elusive and views were extremely tricky with only a very narrow window, but after very careful maneuvering, we managed to get some good views of this highly prized target! Shortly after our time with the turaco, the rain started up, and we took this as our signal and made our way back down the lower slopes of Mount Sabyinyo to the entrance gate. While searching for these primary targets, several other species of interest were seen, some of which were Mountain Buzzard, Western Tinkerbird, Rwenzori Batis and Kandt’s Waxbills, along with the seldomly-seen Western Tree Hyrax.

Uganda Custom birding reportRegal Sunbird is an aptly named Albertine Rift endemic.

 

Day 22, 10th September 2021. Transfer from Kisoro to Lake Mburo, birding en-route

Our morning began off at the Echuya Forest Reserve, where we spent a short while birding. The cool and windy conditions kept the birds down, and we struggled for sightings. We spent a while working one feeding flock, and enjoyed more views of many of the species we had become acquainted with over the previous few days – such as Mountain Masked Apalis, White-starred Robin, Northern Puffback and Strange Weaver. Stunning Regal Sunbirds put on a wonderful show for us, while Northern Double-collared Sunbirds weren’t as showy. We eventually had to call time, and head onwards to a small papyrus swamp area where Papyrus Canary would form our main target. The area was heaving with all sorts of seed-eating birds, with high numbers of Western Citrils and Brimstone Canaries present, along with others such as Black-crowned and Common Waxbills and Thick-billed and Streaky Seedeaters. Some careful searching of the deeper papyrus areas produced the goods and we enjoyed good looks at a pair of the scarce Papyrus Canary. We tracked the birds out into the open surrounding fields where they intermingled and fed with all the other species mentioned. The papyrus also held Greater Swamp and Highland Rush Warblers, along with Carruthers’s Cisticola. Our next stop on the roadside produced the goods once more – a lovely pair of Ruaha Chats, with two sub-adult males in tow – signs of recently fledged chicks. Following lunch and a brief stop in Mbarara, we pressed on to Lake Mburo National Park, and birded along the entrance road. We had a productive afternoon spell of birding, with flashy species such as Black-headed Gonolek, Variable and Marico Sunbird, Green-winged Pytilia and Golden-breasted Bunting all showing well. A pair of the lively Buff-bellied Warblers put in an appearance, while a stately Bare-faced Go-away-bird perched atop one of the many Euphorbias. Open plains produced both Brown-chested and African Wattled Lapwings. We eventually reached our comfortable lodge, and settled in for the evening.

 

Day 23, 11th September 2021. Birding Lake Mburo National Park

With the day marking our last full day of birding, we set out with a full day planned. We initially focused our morning on birding around our lodge where we would be searching for one of our primary targets – Red-faced Barbet. This tricky, East African endemic, fortunately cooperated nicely for us, and we enjoyed a great showing by a vocal pair early on in the day. African Green Pigeon, Red-headed Lovebird, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and Scarlet-chested Sunbird were some of the other species seen. With the barbet out of the way early doors, we soon proceeded onwards into Lake Mburo National Park. The wind gradually started picking up, and it unfortunately made for slightly tricky birding – but we persisted and enjoyed a very fruitful birding session. Stately Bare-faced Go-away-birds and noisy Meyer’s Parrots were a regular feature, while various bird parties delivered up some great species such as Common Scimitarbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, White-winged Black Tit, the miniscule Grey Penduline Tit, Red-faced Crombec, Green-capped Eremomela, Black-lored Babbler, Little Weaver and Golden-breasted Bunting, amongst many others.

Barbets are always a regular feature in Lake Mburo, and today was no different with the park delivering Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird along with Spot-flanked, White-headed and Crested Barbets, with Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird heard calling from some of the denser areas. Various raptors were also noted during the morning, with White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures, Bateleur and Wahlberg’s and Tawny Eagles all featuring. One of the few remaining dams that had some water was a treasure, delivering up a wonderful pair of Grey Crowned Cranes, while also allowing us to compare Common, Wood and Green Sandpipers side by side. Despite intensive searching, we were unable to track down our main target for the park – Long-tailed Cisticola. The park is also home to a wide diversity of mammals, and we enjoyed the likes of Common Warthog, Plains Zebra, African Buffalo, Western Bushbuck, Impala, Waterbuck and Topi – although it was arguably the three mongoose species we saw that were the main highlights; a large group of Banded Mongoose disappearing into the bush; a small group of the Common Dwarf Mongoose that were foraging around a termite mound; and a Slender Mongoose feeding on a buffalo carcass.

Uganda Custom birding reportAfrican Finfoot is a highlight on the boat cruise at Lake Mburo National Park.

 

Following a quick lunch break, we were back into the park, and headed onwards to the lake where we would undertake a boat cruise. It took a little while to sort out the formalities, but eventually we were underway on our private boat. The lake is famous for being a very reliable location to see African Finfoot, and it would be one of our main targets. After a short while of searching we did find our first African Finfoot, and enjoyed several more sightings – enjoying great views of both males and females. A quieter backwater was excellent, producing the likes of Saddle-billed Stork, Long-toed Lapwing and a few of the scarce Rufous-bellied Herons. Our second target, White-backed Night Heron was notable only by its absence, though a wide array of other widespread waterbirds were seen. With our time allotment up and having had our fill of the many Hippopotamuses present here, we slowly made our way back through the park. A birding stop along the way produced the goods, and we were eventually rewarded with a Long-tailed Cisticola, while we also started noting some of the first European migrants moving through – Willow Warbler and European Bee-eater. Our day wasn’t done just yet, as a few corners later we were brought to a halt by a stunning female Leopard lazing about right next to the road! We couldn’t believe our luck, and enjoyed the next 30 (or so) minutes with this incredible cat, who we had all to ourselves! Following a scrumptious dinner, our night drive was very quiet with only a number of African Savannah Hares and Square-tailed Nightjars being seen. Despite this, we counted ourselves lucky with all the sightings we had enjoyed, with our day tally touching 130 species.

Uganda Custom birding reportThis beautiful Leopard sighting was the perfect end to an incredibly successful tour!

 

Day 24, 12th September 2021. Departure from Entebbe

Today was our departure day, and with a bit of a drive in-store as we headed back to Entebbe, meant we couldn’t allow much time for birding. A group of confiding Brown-chested Lapwings bid us farewell as we set off, and the resident pair of Bat Hawks welcomed us to Entebbe later in the afternoon, and was our last notable sighting of the tour. With a bit of time left to freshen up, reflect on the trip, and enjoy one last meal together, we made our way to the airport where the tour came to a close in the evening.

 

Bird ListFollowing IOC 11.2

 Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, birds seen only by the guide are marked with a (G) after the common name, all other species were seen by both client and guide.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Ugandan and Albertine Rift endemics are bolded.

Common Name Scientific Name
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata
Guineafowl (Numididae)
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani
New World Quail (Odontophoridae)
Stone Partridge Ptilopachus petrosus
Nahan’s Partridge – VU Ptilopachus nahani
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Crested Francolin Ortygornis sephaena
Ring-necked Francolin (H) Scleroptila streptophora
Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei
Handsome Spurfowl Pternistis nobilis
Clapperton’s Spurfowl Pternistis clappertoni
Yellow-necked Spurfowl Pternistis leucoscepus
Red-necked Spurfowl Pternistis afer
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis
Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii
Swifts (Apodidae)
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus
Sabine’s Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis
Nyanza Swift Apus niansae
African Black Swift Apus barbatus
Little Swift Apus affinis
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
Turacos (Musophagidae)
Great Blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata
Bare-faced Go-away-bird Crinifer personatus
White-bellied Go-away-bird Crinifer leucogaster
Eastern Plantain-eater Crinifer zonurus
Rwenzori Turaco Gallirex johnstoni
Ross’s Turaco Tauraco rossae
White-crested Turaco Tauraco leucolophus
Black-billed Turaco Tauraco schuettii
Bustards (Otididae)
White-bellied Bustard (H) Eupodotis senegalensis
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
Blue-headed Coucal Centropus monachus
White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus
Black Coucal Centropus grillii
Blue Malkoha (H) Ceuthmochares aereus
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii
Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
Klaas’s Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis
African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus
Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx mechowi
Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove Columba livia
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Afep Pigeon (G) Columba unicincta
African Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix
White-naped Pigeon Columba albinucha
Western Bronze-naped Pigeon (H) Columba iriditorques
Dusky Turtle Dove Streptopelia lugens
Mourning Collared Dove Streptopelia decipiens
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola
Vinaceous Dove Streptopelia vinacea
Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove Turtur chalcospilos
Black-billed Wood Dove Turtur abyssinicus
Blue-spotted Wood Dove Turtur afer
Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
Bruce’s Green Pigeon Treron waalia
African Green Pigeon Treron calvus
Finfoots (Heliornithidae)
African Finfoot Podica senegalensis
Flufftails (Sarothruridae)
White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
African Rail (H) Rallus caerulescens
African Crake Crecopsis egregia
Allen’s Gallinule Porphyrio alleni
African Swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis
Black Crake Zapornia flavirostra
Cranes (Gruidae)
Grey Crowned Crane – EN Balearica regulorum
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor
Buttonquail (Turnicidae)
Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Water Thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Long-toed Lapwing Vanellus crassirostris
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus
Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus
Senegal Lapwing Vanellus lugubris
Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus
African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Brown-chested Lapwing Vanellus superciliosus
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecuarius
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
Forbes’s Plover Charadrius forbesi
Painted-snipes (Rostratulidae)
Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temminckii
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris
Grey-headed Gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus
Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumenifer
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Reed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
African Spoonbill Platalea alba
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Hamerkop (Scopidae)
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
Shoebill (Balaenicipitidae)
Shoebill – VU Balaeniceps rex
Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis
European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus
Hooded Vulture – CR Necrosyrtes monachus
White-backed Vulture – CR Gyps africanus
White-headed Vulture – CR Trigonoceps occipitalis
Lappet-faced Vulture – EN Torgos tracheliotos
Black-chested Snake Eagle Circaetus pectoralis
Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus
Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens
Bateleur – EN Terathopius ecaudatus
Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus
Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus
Martial Eagle – EN Polemaetus bellicosus
Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
Wahlberg’s Eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi
Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii
Tawny Eagle – VU Aquila rapax
African Hawk-Eagle Aquila spilogaster
Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates
Eastern Chanting Goshawk Melierax poliopterus
African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro
Shikra Accipiter badius
Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus
African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius
African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Mountain Buzzard Buteo oreophilus
Augur Buzzard Buteo augur
Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
Western Barn Owl (H) Tyto alba
Owls (Strigidae)
Pearl-spotted Owlet (H) Glaucidium perlatum
Red-chested Owlet Glaucidium tephronotum
African Scops Owl (H) Otus senegalensis
Greyish Eagle-Owl (H) Bubo cinerascens
Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl Bubo lacteus
African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii
Mousebirds (Coliidae)
Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus
Blue-naped Mousebird Urocolius macrourus
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Narina Trogon (H) Apaloderma narina
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum
Hoopoes (Upupidae)
African Hoopoe Upupa africana
Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)
White-headed Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus bollei
Green Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
Ground Hornbills (Bucorvidae)
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill – VU Bucorvus abyssinicus
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Northern Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus
Jackson’s Hornbill Tockus jacksoni
Crowned Hornbill Lophoceros alboterminatus
African Pied Hornbill Lophoceros fasciatus
Hemprich’s Hornbill (H) Lophoceros hemprichii
African Grey Hornbill Lophoceros nasutus
Piping Hornbill Bycanistes fistulator
White-thighed Hornbill Bycanistes albotibialis
Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill Bycanistes subcylindricus
Black-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata
White-crested Hornbill Horizocerus albocristatus
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Purple Roller Coracias naevius
Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudatus
Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Chocolate-backed Kingfisher Halcyon badia
Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Blue-breasted Kingfisher (H) Halcyon malimbica
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
African Dwarf Kingfisher Ispidina lecontei
African Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta
Malachite Kingfisher Corythornis cristatus
Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Black Bee-eater Merops gularis
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
Blue-breasted Bee-eater Merops variegatus
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates
White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis
Olive Bee-eater Merops superciliosus
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
African Barbets (Lybiidae)
Grey-throated Barbet Gymnobucco bonapartei
Speckled Tinkerbird Pogoniulus scolopaceus
Western Tinkerbird Pogoniulus coryphaea
Yellow-throated Tinkerbird Pogoniulus subsulphureus
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
Red-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus pusillus
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Yellow-spotted Barbet Buccanodon duchaillui
Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsuta
Red-fronted Barbet (H) Tricholaema diademata
Spot-flanked Barbet Tricholaema lacrymosa
White-headed Barbet Lybius leucocephalus
Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies
Black-billed Barbet Lybius guifsobalito
Double-toothed Barbet Lybius bidentatus
Black-breasted Barbet Lybius rolleti
Yellow-billed Barbet Trachyphonus purpuratus
Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii
D’Arnaud’s Barbet Trachyphonus darnaudii
Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)
Cassin’s Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis
Dwarf Honeyguide Indicator pumilio
Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi
Least Honeyguide Indicator exilis
Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor
Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
African Piculet Sasia africana
Buff-spotted Woodpecker Pardipicus nivosus
Brown-eared Woodpecker Pardipicus caroli
Nubian Woodpecker Campethera nubica
Fine-banded Woodpecker Campethera taeniolaema
Yellow-crested Woodpecker Chloropicus xantholophus
Speckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendropicos poecilolaemus
Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens
African Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Pygmy Falcon Polihierax semitorquatus
Fox Kestrel Falco alopex
Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus
Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera
African Hobby Falco cuvierii
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)
Grey Parrot – EN Psittacus erithacus
Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Red-headed Lovebird Agapornis pullarius
Pittas (Pittidae)
Green-breasted Pitta Pitta reichenowi
Wattle-eyes, Batises (Platysteiridae)
Rwenzori Batis Batis diops
Chinspot Batis (H) Batis molitor
Western Black-headed Batis Batis erlangeri
Ituri Batis Batis ituriensis
Chestnut Wattle-eye Platysteira castanea
Brown-throated Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea
Bushshrikes (Malaconotidae)
Grey-headed Bushshrike (H) Malaconotus blanchoti
Many-colored Bushshrike Chlorophoneus multicolor
Bocage’s Bushshrike Chlorophoneus bocagei
Orange-breasted Bushshrike Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus
Doherty’s Bushshrike Telophorus dohertyi
Marsh Tchagra Bocagia minuta
Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus
Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis
Northern Puffback Dryoscopus gambensis
Lowland Sooty Boubou (H) Laniarius leucorhynchus
Albertine Sooty Boubou (H) Laniarius holomelas
Willard’s Sooty Boubou Laniarius willardi
Slate-colored Boubou Laniarius funebris
Lühder’s Bushshrike Laniarius luehderi
Tropical Boubou Laniarius major
Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri
Black-headed Gonolek Laniarius erythrogaster
Brubru Nilaus afer
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike (H) Prionops rufiventris
Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher Bias musicus
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Grey Cuckooshrike Ceblepyris caesius
Black Cuckooshrike Campephaga flava
Petit’s Cuckooshrike Campephaga petiti
Purple-throated Cuckooshrike Campephaga quiscalina
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina
Northern White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus ruppelli
Mackinnon’s Shrike Lanius mackinnoni
Grey-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitoroides
Northern Fiscal Lanius humeralis
Figbirds, Orioles, Turnagra (Oriolidae)
Western Oriole Oriolus brachyrynchus
Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
Mountain Oriole Oriolus percivali
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher (H) Trochocercus nitens
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer
African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Fan-tailed Raven Corvus rhipidurus
White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis
Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)
African Blue Flycatcher Elminia longicauda
White-tailed Blue Flycatcher Elminia albicauda
White-bellied Crested Flycatcher Elminia albiventris
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
White-winged Black Tit Melaniparus leucomelas
White-bellied Tit Melaniparus albiventris
Dusky Tit Melaniparus funereus
Stripe-breasted Tit Melaniparus fasciiventer
Penduline Tits (Remizidae)
Grey Penduline Tit Anthoscopus caroli
Nicators (Nicatoridae)
Western Nicator Nicator chloris
Larks (Alaudidae)
Red-winged Lark Mirafra hypermetra
Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana
Flappet Lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea
White-tailed Lark Mirafra albicauda
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Slender-billed Greenbul Stelgidillas gracilirostris
Red-tailed Bristlebill Bleda syndactylus
Yellow-eyed Bristlebill Bleda ugandae
Yellow-throated Leaflove Atimastillas flavicollis
Spotted Greenbul Ixonotus guttatus
Honeyguide Greenbul (H) Baeopogon indicator
Kakamega Greenbul Arizelocichla kakamegae
Olive-breasted Greenbul Arizelocichla kikuyuensis
Red-tailed Greenbul Criniger calurus
Little Greenbul Eurillas virens
Yellow-whiskered Greenbul Eurillas latirostris
Little Grey Greenbul Eurillas gracilis
Ansorge’s Greenbul Eurillas ansorgei
White-throated Greenbul Phyllastrephus albigularis
Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri
Icterine Greenbul (H) Phyllastrephus icterinus
Cabanis’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus cabanisi
Red-tailed Leaflove Phyllastrephus scandens
Toro Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus hypochloris
Dark-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus tricolor
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Black Saw-wing Psalidoprocne pristoptera
White-headed Saw-wing Psalidoprocne albiceps
Banded Martin Neophedina cincta
Sand Martin (G) Riparia riparia
Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Angolan Swallow Hirundo angolensis
Red-breasted Swallow Cecropis semirufa
Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis
Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Crombecs, African Warblers (Macrosphenidae)
Moustached Grass Warbler Melocichla mentalis
Northern Crombec Sylvietta brachyura
Red-faced Crombec Sylvietta whytii
Green Crombec Sylvietta virens
White-browed Crombec Sylvietta leucophrys
Cettia Bush Warblers & Allies (Cettiidae)
Neumann’s Warbler Urosphena neumanni
Yellow Flycatchers (Erythrocercidae)
Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii
Hylias (Hyliidae)
Green Hylia (H) Hylia prasina
Leaf Warblers & Allies (Phylloscopidae)
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Red-faced Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laetus
Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)
Grauer’s Warbler (H) Graueria vittata
Greater Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens
Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris
African Yellow Warbler Iduna natalensis
Mountain Yellow Warbler Iduna similis
Papyrus Yellow Warbler – VU Calamonastides gracilirostris
Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)
Fan-tailed Grassbird Catriscus brevirostris
Cinnamon Bracken Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus
White-winged Swamp Warbler Bradypterus carpalis
Grauer’s Swamp Warbler – EN Bradypterus graueri
Highland Rush Warbler Bradypterus centralis
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops
Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans
Whistling Cisticola (H) Cisticola lateralis
Trilling Cisticola Cisticola woosnami
Chubb’s Cisticola Cisticola chubbi
Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chiniana
Boran Cisticola Cisticola bodessa
Winding Cisticola Cisticola marginatus
Carruthers’s Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi
Croaking Cisticola Cisticola natalensis
Red-pate Cisticola Cisticola ruficeps
Short-winged Cisticola Cisticola brachypterus
Foxy Cisticola Cisticola troglodytes
Long-tailed Cisticola Cisticola angusticauda
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava
Pale Prinia Prinia somalica
Banded Prinia Prinia bairdii
Black-faced Prinia Prinia melanops
White-chinned Prinia Schistolais leucopogon
Rwenzori Apalis Oreolais ruwenzorii
Buff-bellied Warbler Phyllolais pulchella
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
Lowland Masked Apalis Apalis binotata
Mountain Masked Apalis Apalis personata
Black-throated Apalis Apalis jacksoni
Chestnut-throated Apalis Apalis porphyrolaema
Buff-throated Apalis Apalis rufogularis
Karamoja Apalis – VU Apalis karamojae
Grey-capped Warbler Eminia lepida
Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brevicaudata
Yellow-browed Camaroptera Camaroptera superciliaris
Olive-green Camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota
Grey Wren-Warbler Calamonastes simplex
Black-faced Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus rufus
Green-backed Eremomela Eremomela canescens
Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops
Rufous-crowned Eremomela Eremomela badiceps
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)
Rwenzori Hill Babbler Sylvia atriceps
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Green White-eye Zosterops stuhlmanni
Northern Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis
Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)
Mountain Illadopsis Illadopsis pyrrhoptera
Scaly-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis albipectus
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Rufous Chatterer Argya rubiginosa
Arrow-marked Babbler Turdoides jardineii
Black-lored Babbler Turdoides sharpei
Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)
Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
Purple-headed Starling Hylopsar purpureiceps
Greater Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus
Lesser Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chloropterus
Splendid Starling Lamprotornis splendidus
Rüppell’s Starling Lamprotornis purpuroptera
Superb Starling Lamprotornis superbus
Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio
Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus fulgidus
Waller’s Starling Onychognathus walleri
Narrow-tailed Starling Poeoptera lugubris
Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)
Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus
Red-billed Oxpecker Buphagus erythrorynchus
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Fraser’s Rufous Thrush Stizorhina fraseri
White-tailed Ant Thrush Neocossyphus poensis
Red-tailed Ant Thrush Neocossyphus rufus
African Thrush Turdus pelios
Abyssinian Thrush (G) Turdus abyssinicus
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Fire-crested Alethe (H) Alethe castanea
Brown-backed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas hartlaubi
White-browed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas leucophrys
Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher Melaenornis fischeri
Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher Melaenornis ardesiacus
Northern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis edolioides
Pale Flycatcher Melaenornis pallidus
African Grey Flycatcher Melaenornis microrhynchus
Silverbird Empidornis semipartitus
Swamp Flycatcher Muscicapa aquatica
Cassin’s Flycatcher Muscicapa cassini
Chapin’s Flycatcher – VU Muscicapa lendu
African Dusky Flycatcher Muscicapa adusta
Yellow-footed Flycatcher Muscicapa sethsmithi
Dusky-blue Flycatcher Muscicapa comitata
Sooty Flycatcher Muscicapa infuscata
Red-throated Alethe Chamaetylas poliophrys
Brown-chested Alethe Chamaetylas poliocephala
White-bellied Robin-Chat Cossyphicula roberti
Archer’s Ground Robin Cossypha archeri
Grey-winged Robin-Chat Cossypha polioptera
Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat Cossypha cyanocampter
White-browed Robin-Chat Cossypha heuglini
Red-capped Robin-Chat Cossypha natalensis
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata
Forest Robin Stiphrornis erythrothorax
Equatorial Akalat Sheppardia aequatorialis
African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
Mocking Cliff Chat Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris
Sooty Chat Myrmecocichla nigra
Ruaha Chat Myrmecocichla collaris
Heuglin’s Wheatear Oenanthe heuglinii
Brown-tailed Rock Chat Oenanthe scotocerca
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Grey-headed Sunbird Deleornis axillaris
Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes orientalis
Little Green Sunbird Anthreptes seimundi
Grey-chinned Sunbird Anthreptes tephrolaemus
Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris
Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis
Blue-throated Brown Sunbird Cyanomitra cyanolaema
Blue-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra alinae
Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea
Green-throated Sunbird (G) Chalcomitra rubescens
Scarlet-chested Sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
Bronzy Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis
Olive-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius
Tiny Sunbird (G) Cinnyris minullus
Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris stuhlmanni
Northern Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris reichenowi
Regal Sunbird Cinnyris regius
Beautiful Sunbird Cinnyris pulchellus
Marico Sunbird Cinnyris mariquensis
Red-chested Sunbird Cinnyris erythrocercus
Purple-banded Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus
Superb Sunbird Cinnyris superbus
Variable Sunbird Cinnyris venustus
Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Yellow-spotted Bush Sparrow Gymnoris pyrgita
Chestnut Sparrow Passer eminibey
Shelley’s Sparrow Passer shelleyi
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer griseus
Parrot-billed Sparrow Passer gongonensis
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)
White-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis albirostris
White-headed Buffalo Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus
Grey-capped Social Weaver Pseudonigrita arnaudi
Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis
Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht
Slender-billed Weaver Ploceus pelzelni
Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis
Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster
Orange Weaver Ploceus aurantius
Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops
Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus
Fox’s Weaver Ploceus spekeoides
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Vieillot’s Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus
Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
Golden-backed Weaver Ploceus jacksoni
Chestnut Weaver Ploceus rubiginosus
Compact Weaver Ploceus superciliosus
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps
Cardinal Quelea Quelea cardinalis
Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Black Bishop Euplectes gierowii
Black-winged Red Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix
Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus
Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris
Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus
Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Bronze Mannikin Spermestes cucullata
Magpie Mannikin Spermestes fringilloides
Black-and-white Mannikin Spermestes bicolor
White-collared Oliveback Nesocharis ansorgei
Yellow-bellied Waxbill Coccopygia quartinia
Dusky Crimsonwing Cryptospiza jacksoni
White-breasted Nigrita (H) Nigrita fusconotus
Chestnut-breasted Nigrita Nigrita bicolor
Grey-headed Nigrita Nigrita canicapillus
Grey-headed Oliveback Delacourella capistrata
Black-crowned Waxbill Estrilda nonnula
Kandt’s Waxbill Estrilda kandti
Orange-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda melpoda
Fawn-breasted Waxbill Estrilda paludicola
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
Crimson-rumped Waxbill Estrilda rhodopyga
Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis
Cut-throat Finch Amadina fasciata
Orange-breasted Waxbill (G) Amandava subflava
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu Uraeginthus bengalus
Grant’s Bluebill Spermophaga poliogenys
Red-headed Bluebill Spermophaga ruficapilla
Black-bellied Seedcracker Pyrenestes ostrinus
Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba
Dusky Twinspot Euschistospiza cinereovinacea
Brown Twinspot Clytospiza monteiri
Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
African Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata
Indigobirds, Whydahs (Viduidae)
Village Indigobird Vidua chalybeata
Dusky Indigobird Vidua funerea
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina
Straw-tailed Whydah Vidua fischeri
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis
Mountain Wagtail Motacilla clara
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus
African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Western Citril Crithagra frontalis
Papyrus Canary Crithagra koliensis
Reichenow’s Seedeater Crithagra reichenowi
Yellow-fronted Canary Crithagra mozambica
Brimstone Canary Crithagra sulphurata
Thick-billed Seedeater Crithagra burtoni
Streaky Seedeater Crithagra striolata
Yellow-crowned Canary Serinus flavivertex
Buntings (Emberizidae)
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (H) Emberiza tahapisi
Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris
Cabanis’s Bunting Emberiza cabanisi
Species seen 556
Species heard 27
Species seen by guide only 6
Total species recorded 589

Mammal List


Mammals ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, birds seen only by the guide are marked with a (G) after the common name, all other species were seen by both client and guide.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common Name Scientific Name
Hyraxes (Procaviidae)
Western Tree Hyrax Dendrohyrax dorsalis
Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis
Elephants (Elephantidae)
African Elephant – VU Loxodonta africana
Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)
African Savanna Hare Lepus victoriae
Squirrels and Relatives (Sciuridae)
Carruther’s Mountain Squirrel Funisciurus carruthersi
Fire-footed Rope Squirrel Funisciurus pyrropus
Alexander’s Bush Squirrel Paraxerus alexandri
Bushbabies (Galagidae)
Northern Lesser Galago Galago senegalensis
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Grey-cheeked Mangabey – VU Lophocebus albigena
Olive Baboon Papio anubis
Patas Monkey Erythrocebus patas
Vervet Chlorocebus pygerythrus
L’hoest’s Monkey – VU Allochrocebus lhoesti
Red-tailed Monkey Cercopithecus ascanius
Blue Monkey Cercopithecus mitis
De Brazza’s Monkey Cercopithecus neglectus
Guereza Colobus guereza
Semliki Red Colobus Piliocolobus semlikiensis
Ashy Red Colobus – EN Piliocolobus tephrosceles
Great Apes (Hominidae)
Eastern Gorilla – CR Gorilla beringei
Chimpanzee – EN Pan troglodytes
Bats (Chiroptera)
East African Epauletted Fruit Bat (H) Epomophorus minimus
African Straw-coloured Fruit-bat Eidolon helvum
Cats (Felidae)
Lion – VU Panthera leo
Leopard – VU Panthera pardus
Civets, Genets, Linsangs and allies (Viverridae)
Central African Large-spotted Genet Genetta maculata
Hyaenas and Aardwolf (Hyaenidae)
Spotted Hyaena (H) Crocuta crocuta
Mongooses and Fossa (Herpestidae)
White-tailed Mongoose Ichneumia albicauda
Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguineus
Common Dwarf Mongoose Helogale parvula
Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo
Canids (Canidae)
Side-striped Jackal Lupulella adustus
Black-backed Jackal Lupulella mesomelas
Horses, Asses and Zebras (Equidae)
Plains Zebra Equus quagga
Hogs and Pigs (Suidae)
Common Warthog Phacochoerus africanus
Forest Hog Hylochoerus meinertzhageni
Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamidae)
Hippopotamus – VU Hippopotamus amphibius
Bovids (Bovidae)
African Buffalo Syncerus caffer
Western Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus
Common Eland Tragelaphus oryx
Impala Aepyceros melampus
Oribi Ourebia ourebi
Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Kob Kobus kob
Hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus
Topi Damaliscus lunatus
Common Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia
Black-fronted Duiker Cephalophus nigrifrons
Red-flanked Duiker Cephalophus rufilatus
Giraffes and Okapis (Giraffidae)
Giraffe – VU Giraffa camelopardalis
 
Species seen 48
Species heard 2
Total species recorded 50
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