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SHOEBILLS & GORILLAS OF UGANDA

Monday 25th July - Thursday 4th August 2016

Nik Borrow

The amazing Shoebill (Nik Borrow)

The amazing Shoebill (Nik Borrow)

Uganda is famously quoted as being the ‘Pearl of Africa’ and although neither Henry Morton Stanley nor Winston Churchill had birders and ecotourists in mind when they awarded the country this title it is most certainly an appropriate one! This is surely an essential destination for any world-travelling bird watcher as it is home to the incredible Shoebill, a good number of Albertine Rift endemics and is an excellent place to see a few otherwise difficult western African forest species. A visit to this friendly and welcoming country also offers a great mammal-watching experience and of course primates in particular with Eastern Gorilla and Chimpanzee at the top of the list. It is not often that the mammals get a mention before the birds, but on this occasion it is apt, as our experiences with the incredible Eastern Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were truly unforgettable! To rival this experience the incomparable Shoebill surrendered to our collective gaze on day one and we were also lucky to find the often-elusive Weyns’s Weaver and several ‘wintering’ Blue Swallows nearby. Brightly coloured Papyrus Gonoleks allowed amazing views in a swamp en route to Kibale National Park where we embarked on a ‘chimp trek’ and the die-hard members of the group after 18 plus hours finally managed excellent looks at a displaying Green-breasted Pitta. In the wonderfully named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest we spent a magical hour with a family of Eastern Gorillas and scored enormously with excellent views of the little-known and rare Grauer’s (or African Green) Broadbill. There was also a whole host of Albertine Rift endemic species that included gorgeous Doherty’s Bushshrikes and Regal Sunbirds as well as Handsome Francolin, Ruwenzori Batis, Stripe-breasted Tit, Neumann’s Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Ruwenzori Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Ground Robin, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Lagden’s Bushshrike, Blue-headed Sunbird, Jameson’s Antpecker, Dusky Crimsonwing and Strange Weaver. We finished our African adventure with a splendid flock of Brown-chested Lapwings near Lake Mburo. Amongst the many other mouth-watering specialities that we encountered were Mountain Buzzard, Black-billed Turaco, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Speckle-breasted and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Mountain Oriole, Kakamega, Olive-breasted, Joyful, Toro Olive, White-throated and Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, White-browed Crombec, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-winged Swamp Warbler, Trilling, Chubb’s and Carruthers’s Cisticolas, Black-faced Prinia, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Grey-capped Warbler, Scaly-breasted and Mountain Illadopsises, Black-lored Babbler, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Grey-chested Babbler (heard only), Stuhlmann’s Starling, Oberländer’s Ground Thrush (heard only), Chapin’s Flycatcher, White-bellied and Grey-winged Robin-Chats, Equatorial Akalat, Grey-headed and Red-chested Sunbirds, Golden-backed Weaver, Red-headed Bluebill, Kandt’s Waxbill and Western Citril.

The rare Grauer's Greenbul (Nik Borrow)

The rare Grauer's Greenbul (Nik Borrow)