Tuesday, 21 July 2015

East Africa - Day 1


Uganda - 19 July 2015

Last night, it was midnight Kampala time when we got to bed. Far too late to upload my blog particularly with the rubbish wifi.

Then, much too soon, we were up again at 5.30 am for a 6.00 am breakfast, to leave at 6.30 am.  On the way, there were the usual Egrets as well as Saddled-billed Stork, Western-banded Snake Eagle and a Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill.


Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



We had an hour and a half drive to Mabamba wetlands, where we went out in a boat looking for Shoebill.  There were two other bird tours, bird tour Africa and Birdquest, looking for the same prize.  After looking in several areas with no luck, we tried a new area where we found lots of boats crowded around a still and slightly distant Shoebill. We watched in awe for over an hour when it suddenly caught something, gobbled it up in its ginormous bill before flying up and soaring around and away.


Shoebill, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Shoebill, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Orange Weaver, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

After this we drove around to a dry area to look for Orange Weaver, as well as both tour groups.  Unfortunately, we'd seen the weaver before in Ghana.  


Forest Kingfisher, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Pied Kingfisher, Mabamba Wetland, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


After catching up with a few species here including African Marsh Harrier, Blue-headed Coucal, Double-toothed Barbet and Scarlet Chested Sunbird, we started our drive to Kampala where we stopped at a picnic site on the banks of Lake Victoria at Lutembe Bay next to Kampala.  We saw another Orange Weaver but non of the hirundines we were targeting.

Long-crested Eagle, Lutembe Bay, Uganda
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Our next door neighbour Kate Newlyn was born in Kampala and lived here as a child.  She had asked us to take her back some Kampala soil, which dad filled into a bottle for her.

It was strange hearing Kanya West at full volume singing about African diamond mines in Africa.  It's like, Africans took African music with them to America, that morphed into R&B, hip hop and rap and then it's exported back to Africa.  I wonder if Africans feel some ownership of American black culture?  

Mid afternoon we checked into our really beautiful lodge at Lutembe Bay on the Entebbe side, before going out birding again around the lodge, on the bank opposite where we had been earlier.  Here we saw Angolan Swallow, Moustached Grass Warbler and the widespread but beautiful Supurb Starling.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Lutembe Bay, Uganda
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Then as we started to walk back, dad commented on how great it would be if you got Black Crake in the creek ahead of us.  Literally as he said this, a Black Crake flew across the creek! The only thing was, mum had been behind us and missed it.  She took it much better than usual but there was still time for to get in a strop.  We walked down to the creek which now had a returning fisherman in it.  It was very unlikely the crake would return but we would have to stand there until dark..just then the Black Crake flew back across. What luck!  It was only later that we realised Black Crake was relatively common.

Just then Robert called a Flufftail calling.  They are one of the most secretive birds you can get.  We saw one in Ghana after hours of calling it it.  Robert didn't have a recording of it's call but started whistling a call.  We all stared at the creek, hoping it would fly across, our only hope.  Somehow, my sight was distracted to the vegetation to the right.  Just then Robert gasped, as I saw 2 birds fly over some ferns. Then he exclaimed "unbelievable".  We had seen two Red-Chested Flufftails in flight.  When I say we, I mean Robert and I.  Mum and Dad missed them as they were fixed on the creek.  They were remarkably calm, but were insistent they we were going to look for them again the next day.

Judith, the owner of the lodge brought us a three course meal to our rooms, which was lovely.

It had been a perfect first  day to our trip, an iconic bird with a huge supporting cast of new birds.

Trip list - 95 birds inc 27 new birds for me and one that I missed from the vehicle.


About the Writer


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig 



Mya-Rose Craig is a 13 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She is looking forward to going Mountain Gorilla Trekking in East Africa in the summer and watching Penguins in Antarctica in December 2015, which will be her 7th continent. She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter





















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