Uganda has a great variety of habitats, packed into a fairly small area, and has a bird list nearly on a par with neighbouring Kenya.
It has several excellent game reserves, including Murchison Falls, Lake Mburu and Queen Elizabeth, and many less-visited ones, such as Kidepo Valley and Semliki, which offer a good variety of more-widespread African bird species, as well as a good variety of large mammals.
Uganda’s main attractions are in its forests and swamps, where many species with restricted range can be found. Whilst it only has one endemic species, Fox’s Weaver, which occurs in swamps north of Kampala, it has several species which are endemic to specific habitat areas, shared with other countries.
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex ©Niall Perrins Birding Ecotours
One such area is the Albertine Rift, an area of lakes, mountains and forests, which stretches from northern Uganda along its borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Several species endemic to this area are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Semilki National Park, Rwenzori Mountains and Mgahinga. These include Green Broadbill, Grauer’s, Grauer’s Swamp and Neumann’s Warblers, Shelley’s and Dusky Crimsonwings, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Strange Weaver, Rwenzori Double-collared, Regal, Purple-breasted and Blue-throated Sunbirds, Rwenzori Turaco, Handsome Francolin, Stripe-breasted Tit and several others.
Regal Sunbird Cinnyris regius ©Oz Horine Birding Ecotours
In the papyrus swamps around Lake Victoria and other lakes, the enigmatic Shoebill can be found, as well as specialities including Papyrus Yellow and White-winged Warblers, Carruther’s Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher and Orange Weaver.
There are also several highland and lowland forests spread across the country, which offer species which are generally West African. Great Blue and Black-billed Turacos, African Grey Parrot, Green-breasted Pitta, several Woodpeckers, Barbets and Greenbuls, and scarcities such as Weyn’s Weaver, Nahan’s and Forest Francolins all occur.
Mountain Gorilla Gorilla beringei ©Masa Wang Birding Ecotours
In addition to the birdlife, a great attraction is the opportunity of trekking for Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga, as well as Chimpanzees in Kibale.
Eastern Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii ©Masa Wang Birding Ecotours
Even if you are only passing through Uganda, a good range of species can be seen within a few hours of Kampala, in Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Mabamba Swamp and Mabira Forest, including several of the sought-after species above. Add to this the fact that there is a very active community of local birding guides, and the tourist board actively encourages birding tourism, and this is a must-visit locality.
Major Source: Fatbirder
Map Source: Googlemaps™
Photo Source: © Birding Ecotours