A blog by a young birder, birdwatcher, twitcher, naturalist, environmentalist & writer about birds, wildlife, nature, conservation & ringing (banding) who is an Ambassador for Survival International and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People
Monday, 17 August 2015
East Africa Day 14
Uganda 1 August 2015
I have not been able to upload
photographs to my blog without wifi or decent band width but will add my
photographs to my blog post as soon as I can.
We are having the most
brilliant time in Uganda with everything being great. Our trip was organised by
our local ground agents Avian Watch Uganda.Everything isgoing really well with Robert, our fantastic
guide (who knows all the sites and calls and can whistle birds in) and Paul,
our driver and fixer, for who nothing was too much.
We were at Chimpanzee Guest
House in Kibale Forest National Park.We
were here to see Green-breasted Pitta
only one of two pittas in Africa and the only place it is ever seen.
We had read and heard that you
had to be in place within the forest by 6.45 am, pre-dawn.If we were lucky the male would call once and
then we would be able to follow the call until we located the area where the
bird was hiding and then look until we find the bird on the forest floor.
That was the plan anyway….
It was a very early start with
breakfast at 5.00 am, leaving at 5.30 am and arriving at the rangers office at
6.00 am.That bit went to plan.When we got to the rangers office, they
wanted us to share a ranger with another group.That would have made the group too big. We waited for something to happen, amongst
eager groups of tourists, waiting to go Chimpanzee trekking.Eventually, another ranger appeared and our
despondent group set up for the forest the light.
We walked about in the forest
not hearing the pitta, getting more and more miserable.We stayed with the ranger, as Robert covered
ground to see of he could her one, with no sign.Then out of the blue, the ranger received a
phone call.One of the rangers had taken
a group of tourists Chimpanzee trekking, in the opposite direction and had
heard a pitta.They were about 6 km from
us and the ranger had seen it too.After
a bit of debating about whether to stay and look where we were, which was
usually the best place for the pitta, or go and look where it had been seen, we
decided to try the other site.
Robert, out guide, tried
calling Paul, our driver, but got no response.Paul wasn’t expecting to hear from us all day and so we would have to
Once we got to the road where
we started, Robert managed to phone Paul, who would be 20 minutes. Robert then
went off to call Paul again, leaving us with the ranger. As we birded along the
road near the guards centre, we saw two female Chimpanzee with a baby.They were really lovely and it was great to
see our nearest cousins.We watched the
Chimpanzee until three vehicles arrived, loaded with people about to start
Chimpanzee trekking.The ranger said
that we had to stop looking because he would get into trouble.The maddest thing about the whole thing was
that we couldn’t tell the people trekking that there were Chimpanzee here.The problem was that we didn’t have a
Chimpanzee trekking permit for the morning, just for the afternoon.So we were not allowed to look at them, even
if we found them ourselves.The ranger
told us again not to tell anyone, just asRobert appeared and Digby immediately told him!After that, the catch phrase for the holiday
was “Don’t mention the Chimps”, which we found funny.
The Chimpanzees had at least
lightened the mood and we were feeling less annoyed towards our ranger for
Not long afterwards, Paul
arrived and gave us a lift to the second site, which was 20 minutes away.Here we walked at speed into the forest, to
where the pitta had been heard and seen.Once there, Mum and I decided to sit on a log and wait.The ranger and Robert went off n different
directions to try and hear the pitta.Digby decided to go solo birding and returned after 10 minutes taking
Dad with him to identify some Bulbuls.Mum and I were going to stay put and wait for our guides.At this stage, the ranger re-appeared saying
that he had heard the pitta calling, just past where we were sitting.He asked where Dad and Digby ad gone and
whether they might be playing the pitta call.I reassured him that theyhad
gone to loot at some common birds and not trying for was a ranger, shouting to Robert and Dad and
Within a couple of minutes,
our group was back together following the call of a Green-breasted Pitta.Almost immediately, Robert had found the
Pitta 40 feet up on a branch and Dad had got onto it briefly.After an agonising a great pjhtfew minutes,
after the pitta had moved down to a branch only feet up, we all got onto it
really well.I got a great photograph
and we al got stonking views.It was a
male and every 1-2 minutes, it jumped up, flapped its wings and called “brump”
at at the same time which was really funny to watch.It was like a mating display.
By the time we had watched the
Pitta, it was 10.30 am, which was very late.Robert tried to call the other group but couldn’t get through.
After carrying on birding in
this area we headed back towards the road.We birded around a camp site, but it was a bit worrying in to see that
Forest Elephants had been feeding there, right next to the tents.
We sat by he rangers centre,
sitting in a café with cold Sprite and our packed lunches and waiting for Paul
to pick us up.
We arrived back at the lodge
tired but elated.Wedecided to ditch the Chimpanzee trekking in
the afternoon, which was paid for, as we had seen Chimpanzee in the morning and
didn’t want the whole afternoon trekking for them to then probably not get
After a rest at the lodge, we
set out again at 4.00 pm firstly to dp a a geo cache at the rangers
centre.This time it was Paul’s turn ot
look. It took a few minutes for him to get into the zone, when he found the
Next was some birding at a
swamp, where there was luxury tents set up. The best bird of the afternon was
Shining Blue Kingfisher.
That evening we were a happy
bunch.Theother English couple who seemed to be
following us around had heard about the Pitta at lunchtime and hd gone back and
seenit in the afternoon.We were clearly all very lucky.
I don’t know which is worse,
having no wifi or being told there is wifi and it not working.Either way, we’ve had no working wifi on this
trip except in Mbale.I may have to post
when we get home.
Trip list – My trip list up to
the end of day 14 is 429 with 186 lifers.
About the Writer
Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig
Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 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 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