Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 3rd July - Saturday 23rd July 2016
Daniel Lopez Velasco
For any world-travelling birder, a visit to Uganda should definitely be on the agenda. Why? The fabulous Shoebill is probably a good-enough reason to visit this magical, friendly and welcoming country, but there are many more, including a good selection of Albertine Rift endemics, with such megas as Grauer´s Broadbill or Green-breasted Pitta, as well as other difficult western African forest species. Together with some great mammal watching, with of course primates as the icing of the cake, in particular the mighty Eastern Gorillas and Chimpanzees. Combined with excellent accommodation and food, impressive scenery and a good road network, it´s easy to understand why this African country is undoubtedly one of my favourites in the whole world!
This year´s tour was, as usual, packed with highlights, but several stand out: Shoebill, of course, was one of the birds of the trip, and we succeeded in getting walk-away views at Mabamba. A stunning Green-breasted Pitta was seen extremely well, at very close quarters, at Kibale, while a pair of the near-mythical Grauer´s (African Green) Broadbills were watched at length near their nest at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. On the mammal front, our encounters with the incredible Eastern Gorillas of Bwindi were truly unforgettable, as were the Chimpanzees at Kibale, while we were lucky with Lions, with a group of 6 of the famous “tree-climbing” ones seen very well in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. There were of course many more avian highlights. A whole host of Albertine Rift endemic species included the superb Ruwenzori Turaco, whilst other favourites included several amazing adult male Pennant-winged Nightjars flying in broad daylight, or the gorgeous Doherty’s Bushshrike that played so hard to see this year. Amongst the many other mouth-watering specialities that we saw were no less than 4 of the very elusive Nahan’s Partridges, Heuglin’s and Handsome Francolins, Mountain Buzzard, some early Brown-chested Lapwings, African Finfoot, African Crake, Afep Pigeon, Black-billed Turaco, Dusky and Barred Long-tailed Cuckoos, no less than 6 species of owls including Red-chested Owlet, Black-shouldered and Ruwenzori Nightjars, Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-thighed Hornbill, Scaly-throated and Willcocks’s Honeyguides, Tullberg’s and Elliot´s Woodpeckers, Ruwenzori and Ituri Batises, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Lowland and Mountain Sooty Boubous, Lühder´s Bushshrike, Papyrus Gonolek, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Mountain Oriole, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Stripe-breasted Tit, Kakamega, Olive-breasted (Mountain), Toro Olive and White-throated Greenbuls, Yellow-eyed (split from Lesser) Bristlebill, White-browed Crombec, Neumann´s (Short-tailed) Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Red-faced and Uganda Woodland Warblers, White-winged and Grauer’s Swamp Warblers, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Trilling, Chubb’s, Carruthers’s, Foxy and Long-tailed Cisticolas, Black-faced Prinia, Ruwenzori Apalis, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Lowland and Mountain Masked Apalises, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Scaly-breasted, Puvel’s and Mountain Illadopsises, Black-lored Babbler, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Stuhlmann’s and Sharpe’s Starlings, Red-throated and Fire-crested Alethes, Eastern Forest Robin, Archer’s Ground Robin, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Chapin´s Flycatcher, Silverbird, Grey-headed, Superb, Blue-headed, Ruwenzori Double-collared, Regal and Red-chested Sunbirds, Shelley’s Sparrow, Strange Weaver, ‘Victoria’ Masked Weaver, Weyns’s Weaver, Red-winged Pytilia, Dusky Crimsonwing, Grey-headed Oliveback, Dusky and Brown Twinspots, Kandt’s Waxbil, Western Citril and Papyrus Canary.