With two little ones I don't get much time to go out birding, but with the mother-in-law passing by a few days ago I got the green light to escape for a few days. A friend-of-a-friend runs a tour company from Kampala, so I thought I'd see if he could help me. A few emails later and I had a quick four-day itinerary, with the main target being the Shoebill. I re-watched the 'Savannah' episode from the BBC's Africa series in preparation (a good segment on Shoebill!) and then I was off. Itinerary as follows:
- Day 1: Flight to Entebbe (1600 AED return, very reasonable). Birding Entebbe Botanical Garden.
- Day 2: Mabamba swamp for the Shoebill. Mpanga Forest. Then onward to Lake Mburo NP.
- Day 3: All day Lake Mburo.
- Day 4: Back to Entebbe for the flight home.
I was picked up by my driver, Abdul, and we made our way to the Boma guest house where I dumped my stuff. We did a quick turnaround and by about 15h30 I was at the botanical garden. I took a guide ($20) who had some knowledge of birds and we had a nice walk around, passing through wooded areas before getting down to the shore for terrific views across Lake Victoria. Then we went parallel to the shore, passing some reeds (lots of weavers) before heading back. We racked up 64 species over 2.5 hours and I would have probably had more if I'd brushed up on my birds a bit more. Highlights included African and Eurasian Hobby, Ross's and Great Blue Turacos, Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, Hamerkop, Eastern Plantain-Eater and my first Marabou Stork (a lot of these are quite common but all lifers for me).
There were also a lot of weavers down on the lakeshore and I was glad of my camera so that I could pick out the different species later... They can look quite similar.