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Bird Watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Bird watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the interesting and breathtaking activities carried out in Queen Elizabeth national park in that the park is a home of over 612 bird species including aquatic birds, forest dwellers, woodland birds, migratory birds among others which make the national park the best birding destination in Uganda.

Best Time for Bird Watching in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The birdlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park is good year-round, but at its best from late May to September, when the rain is less and food is abundant. June to July has the least rain, while April to May and September to November have the most rain. The heavy rains might result in delays due to impassable roads and slippery hiking trails. These may limit your bird-watching time. From November to April, migratory birds can be found in the park.

Queen Elizabeth national park checklist

Queen Elizabeth NP has the largest checklist of any protected area in East Africa with over 600 bird species recorded. This is mostly due to the wide variety of habitats: from savannah to forest to wetland. Many of the birds in the park are regarded as specials within East Africa, which makes it a prime birding destination. The swamps in the Ishasha sector are a good place to look for the elusive shoebill stork. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

  • Birding Specials – A treat for Birders
  • African finfoot
  • African hobby
  • African skimmer
  • Ayres’s hawk eagle
  • Black bee-eater
  • Black-rumped buttonquail
  • Broad-billed roller
  • Caspian plover
  • Collared pratincole
  • Common sand martin
  • Crab-plover
  • Great blue turaco
  • Great white pelican
  • Grey-winged robin-chat
  • Heuglin’s gull
  • Palm-nut vulture
  • Papyrus gonolek
  • Pel’s fishing-owl
  • Pink-backed pelican
  • Red-chested sunbird
  • Rufous-bellied heron
  • Shoebill
  • Spotted redshank
  • Western banded snake eagle
  • White-backed night heron
  • White-winged tern
  • Yellow-bellied wattle-eye
  • Yellow-throated cuckoo

Birding in the park can be done in different areas including;

Kazinga Channel, Kazinga Channel is a 40km long channel that joins Lake Edward and Lake George. The channel is one of the best destinations for birding in Queen Elizabeth national park where you will be able to view various bird species. Bird watching on Kazinga Channel will be done during the boat cruise which can be done either in the morning or in the afternoon and the bird species that will be viewed include blue napped mouse bird, little bee- eater, grey capped warbler, yellow backed weaver, pin tailed whydah, slender billed weaver, grey headed kingfisher, pygmy kingfisher, swamp nightjar, African mourning dove, black headed gonolek, scarlet chested sunbird, red chested sunbird, long tailed cormorant, African shoebill, black crake among others.

Mweya peninsular, this is located within the park on the northern bank of Kazinga channel at a point where it connects to Lake Edward. Mweya peninsular is covered by thick savannah vegetation and one of the destinations to spot leopards, other animals like elephants, hippos, warthogs, buffaloes among others. Mweya peninsular is one of the birding destination in Queen Elizabeth national park which harbors bird species including the African mourning dove, black headed gonolek, Diederik cuckoo, red capped lark, Nubian woodpecker, scarlet chested sunbird, pin tailed whydah, lesser masked weaver, grey headed kingfisher, blue napped mouse bird among others.

Maramagambo forest, this is one of the largest forests located within the park in Bushenyi district. Maramagambo forest starts from Kichwamba escarpments and stretches to Lake Edward. It’s a home of primates like L’hoest monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons, vervet monkeys, bush babies, pottos various bird species including forest flycatcher, white napped pigeon, dark caped warbler, fawn breasted wax-bill, bat hawk, Rwenzori Turaco, African green pigeon, black headed batis, ross’s turaco, red tailed bristle, African emerald cuckoo, white winged warbler, Chapin’s flycatcher, African broadbill, pink backed pelican, verreux’s eagle owl among others.

Kasenyi plains, this is situated in the north-eastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park on the western shores of Lake George. These plains are comprised of open savannah which is a habitat of various animals and these can be seen during the game drive, lion research tracking and bird watching. During birding in Kasenyi plains you will be able to view bird species such as red throat spur fowls, grey backed fiscal, white tailed lark, black lured babbler, black headed gonolek, crowned lover, brown snake eagle, grey crowned cranes, yellow throated long crow, African crake, martial eagle, African wattled eagle, palm nut vulture, white tailed lark, long crested eagle among others.

Ishasha sector, Ishasha is one of the famous destinations located in southern part of the park known for the tree climbing lions which can be viewed during the game drive lazily lying up in the acacia, fig trees. Ishasha sector is also a birding area where birds can be viewed in the open savannah grassland, woodland and swamps. Bird species that can be spotted include Senegal plover, Ross’s turaco, striped kingfisher, greater honey guide, white browned robin chat, green woodpecker, lappet faced vulture, African crake, helmeted guinea fowl, broad billed roller, white headed barbet, hooded vulture, grey backed fiscal, double toothed barbet among others.

Katwe salt lake, Lake Katwe is a salt lake where natural or rock salt is extracted by the local people using traditional methods to the landing site where it is dried and later sold. The crater salt lake is located in the northern part of Queen Elizabeth national park near Mweya peninsular. Wildlife species inhabit around the lake including animals such as elephants, warthogs, hippos and bird species such as flamingos which are migratory birds, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, papyrus gonolek, pink backed pelican, martial eagle, papyrus canary, African broadbill, yellow throated cuckoo among others.

Lake Kikorongo, this is a crater lake that is found in the eastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park in Kasese district. The lake is a habitat of various bird species including the greater swamp warblers, guinea fowls, African fish eagle, sacred ibis, papyrus gonolek, yellow wagtail, knob billed ducks, white winged warblers, saddle billed stork, black crake, common squaco heron, brown neck eagle, double toothed barbet among others.

Katunguru Bridge, this is a bridge where Kazinga Channel is crossed when coming from Kasese to Rubirizi district. There is a papyrus swamp under Katunguru Bridge which habits various bird species including white winged warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Caruthers Cisticola, pied and malachite kingfisher, pink backed pelican among others.

Requirements for birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park

  • When coming on a birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park you need to pack the right equipment’s such as
  • Light hiking shoes, these should be comfortable and flexible during trekking in the forest or savannah vegetation
  • Hat and sunglasses, these will protect you from the scotching sun since birding is normally best done in the dry season.
  • Light clothes
  • A pair of binoculars, these will help you to have a clear view of the bird species in a far distance.
  • Camera and extra batteries, these will help you to capture pictures and also record moments on your birding safari.
  • Drinking water, this will keep you hydrated during birding in the park
  • Waterproof rain jacket, the rain jacket will protect you in case it rains in the park during birding
  • Backpack, this will carry your essentials for a birding safari such as camera, drinking water, rain jacket among others.

 

 

 

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