Uganda Birding safaris
Bird watching safaris in Uganda are flourishing with a huge gem of over 1,000 bird species that have attracted attention in recent years. Uganda’s story of bird watching is a bad to good narration. There was always a scuffle between bird watchers and the residents who settled around the birding places. Back then, residents could chase bird watchers with machetes suspecting them to be land grabbers who were trying to inspect and take their land forcefully. However, the continued efforts of several organizations to promote and shape bird watching like the Uganda Bird Guides Club has now helped to turn the Pearl of Africa into an Ornithologist’s dream. The presence of thousands of bird species in Uganda’s variety of rainforests makes the Pearl of Africa one of the bird watching destinations in Africa and the world at large. To ambitious bird watchers, a 14-day itinerary
allows you to view 450 to 500 species, which is almost half of Uganda’s richness of the booming bird list that stands at 1,080 species. This number makes Uganda to posses about half of the continent’s total bird list that stands at 2,310 species. One of the favorable factors that gifts Uganda with this impressive bird gem is her conducive climate all year round enabling bird bleeding and while attracting migration of hundreds of others from different parts of the continent. On several occasions, bird watching is done as a complement to other tourism activities in Uganda especially gorilla trekking in Mgahinga and Bwindi, game watching, mountaineering and cultural encounters among other activities to make a complete Uganda safari package.
Where to find birds in Uganda
Some of the most experienced bird watchers in Uganda point out some of the best spots for a fruitful bird watching safari in Uganda. These include Mabamba Wetland, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Semuliki Valley in Semuliki national park, Budongo Forest, Mgahinga National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Mburo National park. Others include Kidepo valley national park though not well marketed.
Bird watching experts, The Uganda Bird Guides highly recommend Mabamba Swamp on the edge of Lake Victoria as one of Uganda’s Important Bird Areas (IBA). The site is a home for the elusive Shoebill Storks an endemic for East and Central Africa
Bwindi Impenetrable national park, which is majorly known for incredible gorilla safaris, is another destination recommended to curious birders. The montane forests of the Kigezi highlands offer one of the finest birding in Africa with over 23 Albertine Rift endemics. The species in this bird gem include some that are globally threatened like the African Green Broadbill and Shelly’s Crimson Wing.
Other Uganda’s bird watching spots like Queen Elizabeth national park qualify as top bird watching sites by holding such huge numbers of birds and a great variety of species. The park is the most prevalent of any protected area in Africa with over 600 bird species.
Today’s excellent Uganda birding safari are as a result of the great work done by the birding pioneers of Uganda who were very instrumental in installing this exciting door activity on the Uganda’s itineraries back in the late 1990s. The team took it upon themselves to educate and sensitize both locals and the media on how to conserve and promote birding in Uganda.
The recent International recognitions involving Uganda’s birding effort are clear indicators of a success registered so far in the activity. In October this year Uganda participated and emerge second through the triumph of 23-year-old Ashley Brian Baboineki at the international Youths Birding Competition hosted by Singapore Tourism Board. The competition had 78 participating nations.
Uganda also shined at the Global Big Day in May when 429 bird species where found from across the country by a group of 34 birders that were identified by an experienced network of local guides and the Uganda Tourism Board. Uganda’s impressive numbers put her in the first position in Africa ahead of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia who were also critical of the success of Africa’s tally.
Uganda’s ambitions to promote birding were also indicated by the formation of the Uganda Women Birders in 2013 to attract more women into birding and nature guiding as a profession. This women club has been growing with time with the assistance from tourism authorities including Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Tourism Board. The club has grown from 5 members to 30 female guides who are recommended for jobs in tour companies as a way of supporting them.