Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 1st June - Wednesday 25th June 2014
For any world-travelling birder, a visit to Uganda should definitely be on the agenda. Why? The extraordinaire 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 pretty much guaranteed close encounters with 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 seeing it at three different places, including walk-away views at Murchison Falls NP. A stunning male Green-breasted Pitta was watched in the scope, in full display, for more than half an hour, at Kibale, while a at least 4 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 very lucky with Leopards, with 3 seen very well. 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 Pennant-winged Nightjars or the gorgeous Doherty’s Bushshrike. Amongst the many other mouth-watering specialities that we saw were Nahan’s Partridge, Heuglin’s and Handsome Francolins, Dwarf Bittern, White-backed Night Heron, Mountain Buzzard, Crowned Eagle, Forbes’s Plover, African Finfoot, African Crake, Afep Pigeon, Black-billed Turaco, Dusky and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos, Black-shouldered and Ruwenzori Nightjars, Chocolate-backed and African Dwarf Kingfishers, Forest Wood-Hoopoe, White-thighed Hornbill, Red-faced Barbet, Dwarf and Willcocks’s Honeyguides, Tullberg’s and Speckle-breasted Woodpeckers, Ruwenzori and Ituri Batises, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Lowland and Mountain Sooty Boubous, Papyrus Gonolek, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Mountain Oriole, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Stripe-breasted Tit, Kakamega, Olive-breasted (Mountain), Joyful, Toro Olive and White-throated Greenbuls, Yellow-eyed (split from Lesser) Bristlebill, White-browed Crombec, Grauer’s Warbler, Red-faced and Uganda Woodland Warblers, White-winged and Grauer’s Swamp Warblers, Trilling, Chubb’s, Carruthers’s, Red-pate, Foxy and Long-tailed Cisticolas, Black-faced Prinia, Ruwenzori Apalis, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Lowland and Mountain Masked Apalises, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Grey-capped Warbler, Scaly-breasted, Puvel’s and Mountain Illadopsises, Dusky and Black-lored Babblers, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Stuhlmann’s and Sharpe’s Starlings, Red-throated Alethe, Eastern Forest Robin, Equatorial Akalat, Archer’s Ground Robin, Grey-winged, White-bellied and Blue-shouldered Robin-Chats, White-fronted Black Chat, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Silverbird, Grey-headed, 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, Red-headed Bluebill, Dusky and Brown Twinspots, Kandt’s Waxbil, Western Citril and Papyrus Canary. We recorded a highly impressive 602 species of birds of which all but 12 were seen, and 53 species of mammals.