Birding Uganda Safaris | Dix Robert Birding Report
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Dix Robert Birding Report

Dix Robert Birding Report – Uganda the Pearl of Africa (9 June – 25 June 2012)

The day of 17 June was a drive with stops from Ataco Country Lodge to Queen Elizabeth NP.  A much desired Afep Pigeon was at the first stop along with Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Red-faced Cisticola, White-chinned Prinia, Pink-footed Puffback, and Narrow-tailed & Slender-billed Starlings.  Other birds of the day included Common Kestrel, Blue-headed Coucal, African Dusky Flycatcher, Ludher’s Bush-shrike, and Black-necked, Brown-capped & Yellow-mantled Weavers. 

The whole day of 18 June was at Queen Elizabeth NP.  A reptile, Striped Skink, was at the Simba Safari Lodge. On the way to the entrance we viewed a perched Tawny Eagle, Black Coucal, and Lesser Masked & Golden-backed Weavers.  Soon after entering the park, one of several Red-necked Spurfowl was along the road; later Paul scoped a flock of Lesser Flamingo on Lake Edward.  Other birds included African Morning Dove, Common Scimitarbill, Rufous-naped & Flappet Larks, Rufous-chested & Grey-rumped Swallows, Jackson’s, Long-billed & Plain-backed Pipits, White-browed Robin-chat, Chin-spot Batis, Common Moorhen, and African White-backed Vulture.  A Red-chested Sunbird was at the park lodge in the afternoon prior to the boat trip on the Kazinga Channel; a Swamp Flycatcher and a Lesser Swamp Warbler were waiting for us near the dock.  The boat trip gave good views of an African Spoonbill, Black Crake, Intermediate, Grey & Goliath Herons, White-breasted Cormorant, and Collared Pratincole plus a reptile, Nile Monitor.  After that on a drive towards our lodge were Green-winged Pytilia, Fork-tailed Drongo, and Senegal Lapwing.  The mammals for the day were Vervet Monkey, Leopard, Lions, and a Giant Forest Hog.

A bird packed June 19 day on the road from Queen Elizabeth NP to Bwindi Impenetrable NP started with a Pink-backed Mountain Gorilla Bwindi ForestPelican seen from the Zazinga Channel Bridge.  At single stop there were Hooded, Ruppell’s Griffon , and Lappet-faced Vultures all perched near the road.  Nearby were Violet and Wattled StarlingsAyre’s Hawk-Eagle and Augur & Mountain Buzzards as well as Rock Martin and Red-rumped Swallow came into view in the mountains near Bwindi.  Other birds during the drive were Black-billed Turaco, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Trilling Cisticola, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher, Arrow-marked Babbler, Sulpher-breasted Bush-shrike, Speckled Weaver, and Streaky Seedeater.  A Chubb’s Cisticola was waiting for us at Trekker’s Turban Lodge at a windy Bwindi Impenetrable NP.

The much anticipated Gorilla tracking day at Bwindi Impenetrable NP 20 June was a lot more than dreamed.  The day was complicated by a digestive track problem on the trail.  Paul suggested that I hire a porter, and I thought why I am not taking a suite case!  Since the cost was nominal, I decided to follow Paul’s advice.  That was the best idea ever because my porter ended up carrying everything that I brought including my bins.  In fact, the porter took my hand to help me up the slippery mountain trails.  Upon return a park guide was gently pushing me up the trails while the porter was pulling.  Was it worth it?  When I finally first saw the Gorillas, I immediately knew that I was having a once in a lifetime event.  A baby was using its reclining mother’s tummy as a drum, and she was smiling. The guides and I walked within four to five feet of them to go and visit the Silverback.  No new birds, but I was so busy and happy with being close to the Gorillas that I did not care.  The park guide did point out another mammal while tracking, a Black-fronted Duiker.

21 June proved to be another adventuresome trek in the mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable NP.  At the end of our deepest penetration (lunch time) the trail was so steep and slick that I asked Paul if we would be able to get out.  He replied “Of course, I guarantee it!”  He very wisely chose another trail with a lot new birds.  We walked back mostly circumnavigating the mountains except at the very end.  The birds included Great Sparrowhawk, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Olive Woodpecked, Mountain & Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, White-starred Robin, Archer’s Robin-Chat, White-browed Crombec, and Collared, Black-throated & Mountain Masked Apalis (s).  Others birds of the day were White-eyed Slaty & Yellow-eyed Black Flycatchers,  Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Hill-Babbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Purple-breasted & Regal Sunbirds, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Northern Puffback, Montane Oriole, Chestnut-winged & Sharpe’s Starlings, Black-headed Waxbill, Yellow-crowned Canary, Western Citril, and Oriole-Finch.   A Rwenzori Gound Squirrel was spotted early in the morning near the lodge.

It was cool and calm the morning of 22 June as we left Trekker’s Turban Lodge on our drive from Bwindi Impenetrable NP to Lake Mburo NP.    Soon a Handsome Francolin was at the roadside as well as a L’Hoest’s Monkey.  Some short stops gave Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Green Wood-hoopoe, Grey Cuckoo-shrike,  African Stonechat, Green-capped Eremonela, Yellow Bishop, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Baglafecht, Strange, & Black-billed Weavers.  A Speckled Pigeon was waiting at a gas station.  Arrival at Lake Mburo boat dock was just a few minutes late, but the boat returned to pick me up.  As I stepped down on to a small dock attached to the main dock my feet slipped and I fell backwards.  However, my always alert guide (Paul) quickly caught me and made sure I got on the tour boat.  Pulling away from the dock gave me time to see and think about what may have been a very disruptive accident.  The big event of the boat trip was an African Finfoot.   After the boat tour, a drive in the park gave us a Crested Frankolin, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Little Bee-eater, and Pale Flycatcher.

After a good night’s rest at a very nice Lake Mburo NP Lodge, the morning of the 23 June was spent touring the NP.  A Shoebill Stork in Mabamba, Ugandapriority to Paul was to find the Red-faced Barbet.  It was an excellent find.  Other birds found in the park that morning included Yellow-billed Duck, Little Sparrowhawk, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, African Cuckoo, Barn Swallow, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Buff-bellied Warbler, Green-backed Camaroptera, Brown Babbler, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Marico Sunbird, Tropical Boubou, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, and Red-headed Weaver.  A Red-headed Lovebird flew by as we were stopping to scope two Brown Parrots just as we were leaving the park.   After leaving the park, a few miles on the road trip to The Lodge near Entebbe, we saw a Lilac-breasted Roller on a wire.  This was followed much later by an African Hobby.  The new mammals seen that morning included Dwarf Mongoose, Common Zebra, Hartebeest, and some very elegant Impalla.

On 24 June, it was a relatively short drive to and the return from Mabamba Swamp (50 kms west of Kampala); the visit to the swamp and surrounding area gave us White-winged Tern, Cape Wagtail, African Swamphen, Rufous-winged Cisticola (a split), Brown-throated Wattle-eye, and Orange Weaver.  However, the bird of the whole trip was the Shoebill.  I am never really sure of how my mind is going to react to a find; this time it went for a spin like: What a Wonderful Sight!  Some souvenirs are unforgettable.

In my opinion any new birds that were found on the last day (25 June) were   extra special.  That day was at Mabira Forest Reserve.  This was another relatively short drive from The Lodge, except for the traffic jam after a thunderstorm when returning. However, Paul to my amazement still got us back to The Lodge in time for a shower and cleanup prior to departure time for my evening flight.  I digress. Shortly after our arrival at the NP a White-throated Bee-eater flew overhead which was a surprise since it was the wrong time of year for it.  Other prizes for the day included Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Green Crombec, Grey Longbill, Buff-throated Apalis, African Shrike-flycatcher, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Little Green Sunbird, Sooty Boubou, Borcage’s Bush-shrike, and Wyns’s Weaver.  Although our time in the FR was cut a little short because of a thunderstorm, it was well worth the travel time to me.