East Africa -Day 16

Uganda 3 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 is going 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.

Today we were up at 5.00 am for a 5.30 am breakfast which consisted of a boiled egg (good), bread and fruit (so good) in our hotel. We then drove the 20 minutes to Semliki Forest to meet our Forest Ranger, Patrick. He was armed with a gun, which I think was because we were only 14 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. That was to the Semliki River which is the boundary for the border. We were walking 9 km along the forest path to an oxbow lake, where you get Hartlub’s Pochard.

We hired wellington boots (rubber boots) for the walk, which we really needed as often the mud and water were nearly up to the top. In other places, we had to find our way through the water, especially as many of the wooden little bridges had fallen down.

The forest is a national park but needs improving but I don’t think many people come birding here.

The birding was very difficult as although the birds called, they did not move and were often at the tops of the trees. Usually, in most places, birds respond and will at least move, even if they don’t come in close. However, here they stay put. Apparently, this is because the trees are all one type and so have no reason to move.

Why would you need to move from one tree to another?

We walked as far as the oxbow lake where we looked for Hartlub’s Pochard for Digby, but with no sign. It looked like the locals had eaten these ducks and made them impossible to see.

We also came across a large ant swarm. Patrick had been trying to get us to move, but we have engrossed in a bird and weren’t paying attention. By the time we realised, we were having to brush the ants from our trousers and legs!

We then back and cautiously looked at the birds that had been drawn in by the insects caught up in the swarm. It was interesting because you don’t often hear about army ant swarms in Africa.

When we eventually emerged from the forest into the road, we were tired and our feet hurt. That was because walking in deep mud was more tiring than normal walking and boots have a thin sole so you can feel everything under foot.

There were loads of locals walking the full distance to the river, to go fishing, mostly in bare foot which must be hard with all the ants.

The best birds of the day were Lowland Sooty Boubou, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Xavier’s Greenbul (great for playing animal alphabet), Yellow-lored Bristlebill, Red-tailed Ant-thrush and Grey-headed Sunbird.

It was 12 hours after we had set off and thankfully Paul had arranged a simple dinner back at the Hotel Vanilla, so this time we were back in our rooms by 8.00 pm. The only problem was that Mum had not been able to spray the room with mosquito killer and as we were in there, couldn’t do it now. Mum and I were sharing a single bed, as we didn’t want to split into two rooms. The mosquitos were bound to bite us through the net….

Trip list – My trip list up to the end of day 16 is 453 with 197 lifers.

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