Uganda being a noncoastal country, it supports more than 1000 species that deserves its status as “birders’ Eden”. A short trip here will produce much including Shoebills at Murchison Falls, or Albertine Rift endemics at Bwindi National Park, which is extremely worthwhile, while the chance to come face to face with Africa’s most decent beast, the Mountain Gorillas, is probably the most touching experience any wildlife enthusiast could hope for. Uganda is a wonderful destination for rainforest zealots and those in search of the infrequent and elusive. Uganda is the richest country in Africa for birds in terms of size. It has an excellent infrastructure and a great variety of habitats, from the papyrus-fringed swamps of the Lake Victoria Basin, through both lowland and highland forests of the Albertine Rift and north to the Savanna grassland that double the number in Europe.
There are different birding areas in Uganda and these include, Mabamba swamp, Entebbe, Lake Mburo National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Bundongo Forest
Important Bird Watching Areas in Uganda
The best place to spot birds in Uganda is in one of its spectacular national parks and reserves. It is in these national parks and reserves that bird sanctuaries remain fairly intact to ensure an impressive density in bird species. Because of Uganda’s remarkable variety of fauna and flora, it’s more fulfilling to watch birds while looking out for other wildlife species.
Mabamba Swamp is located on the fringes of Lake Victoria, looking for many of the Victoria specials, including White-winged Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola and Papyrus Gonolek. Other wetland birds are the Blue-breasted Bee-eater, herons, egrets, ducks, plovers, gulls, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers and perhaps the greatest prize of all, the incredible Shoebill, which is seen here from time to time.
It Situated at shores of Lake Victoria, with lake vegetation, botanical gardens, shrubs, and swamps support a variety of species. These include: Lesser jacana, Blue-breasted bee-eater and localized Red-chested sun bird being common ones. Others include African Pygmy-goose, Hemerkop, Head Ibis, Crowned-crane, Long-toed Lapwing, Grey parrot Red headed lovebird, Black headed weaver, Ross’s Turaco, with many other species.
Lake Mburo National Park.
The papyrus beds, woodland, and savanna within this park support Brown-chested Lapwing, papyrus yellow, warbler and Papyrus Gonolek are the common species seen. Others include Saddle-billed Stork, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Grey Crowned-Crane, Three-banded Plover, Senegal Lapwing, Parrot, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Yellow Fronted Tinker bird Marsh Tchagra, Swamp Flycatcher, Swallow, Grey-capped Warbler, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, shoe bill, great snipe, brown chested wattled and white-winged warbler, etc.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
“Bwindi’’ meaning darkness: it is a thick impenetrable forest with thick undergrowth in a small forest of (327 sq km) lying 1160m and 2650 m above sea level is famous for last worlds population of mountain gorillas. However, it has been recorded that over 350 species of birds including Albertine Rift valley endemics and montane forest species.
Species of birds that are found in this area include:Rwenzori Turaco & Nightjar Rufous-chested sparrow hawk, Black Goshawk, Mountain Buzzard, Acre’s Hawk-Eagle, Scaly Francolin, African green Pigeon, Lemon Dove Brown-necked Parrot, Black-billed and Great Blue Tobaccos, Black Dusky Long-tailed, Barred Long-tailed and African Emerald Cuckoos, Fraser’s Eagle Owl, Horus Swift, Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black and cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, White-headed Wood hoopoe, Black and White-casqued and white-thighed Hornbills, Grey-throated Honey-guide, Tullberg’s, Elliot’s and Olive Woodpeckers, Crested flycatchers, etc.
Bwindi’s most important bird area is around Ruhija and the lowland forest around Buhoma. Most of the Albertine Rift endemics occur around Ruhija Rutenga and Mubwindi swamp. There are clear trails around Buhoma to follow other than gorilla tracking. African green Broad bill and Graver’s Rush Warbler. An experienced bird watcher can easily identify up to 100 species in a day.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park’s birding is an incredible treat as this is Uganda’s most popular and most scenic National Park that contains a variety of habitats that range from savanna to wetlands to lowland forests. This diversity is reflected in over 612 bird species, the biggest of any protected area in Uganda. A majority of the birds found in this area are regarded as famous birds of East Africa and are a must-see for birdwatchers in Africa! Areas of bird watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park include; kasenyi area, Mweya peninsula, maramangambo forest, skate area, ishasha sector, lake kikolongo and katunguru bridge area
Murchison Falls National Park.
This is the largest National park in the country with 3900 square kilometers. It is found in the north western part of the country with a drop of White Nile River below Murchison falls comes the delta with marshy swamps providing a natural habitat for the famous Saddle-billed stork and Shoebill.
There are a variety of birds mostly water logged species for bird watching and these include: Shoebill, Heuglin’s Francolin, Emin’s Shrike, Black-headed Bats, Sliver bird, Carruthers’ Cisticola, African Darter, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed stork, Bat Hawk, Atelier, Harlequin and Blue Quails, Black Crake, African Fin foot, Stanley Bustard, Senegal and Spotted Thick-knees, Rock
Pratincole, Bronze-winged and Temminck’s Coursers, Long-toed Lapwing, African Skimmer, Vinaceous Dove, Bruce’s Green-pigeon, Ross’s Towaco, Marsh Owl, Plain, Standard-winged and Pennant-winged Nightjars, Giant Kingfisher, Abyssinian
This is a tropical rain forest located in the southern part of Murchison Falls National Park near Masindi town. Specialities in this area include: Uganda Wood-Warbler, Grey-headed Sunbird, Ituri Batis, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, White-spotted Fluff tail, Afep Pigeon Dusk tailed Cuckoo, Black Shouldered Nightjar, White trigged Horn Bill, Yellow throated Tinker bird, Hillocks’ Honey guide, Golden-crowned Woodpecker, African Shrike-flycatcher Dwarf Kingfisher, and Yellow crested woodpecker, etc.
Bundongo Forest is believed to have the highest concentration of Kingfishers in the region. These include Dwarf Kingfisher which some birders believe to be the smallest Kingfisher in Africa. Others include: Pygmy Kingfisher, Shinning blue Kingfisher, Blue breasted Kingfisher, stripped Kingfisher, woodland Kingfisher
and Chocolate backed Kingfisher.
Other important birding areas: Bird watching in Uganda can also be done in Mpanga Forest Reserve, Mabira Forest Reserve, and the Semuliki National Park.