Birding Lake Victoria

Birding Lake Victoria

January 2, 2022
Safari Tips

Lake Victoria is one of the best water birding areas of the region. And the fact that is the biggest fresh water lake in Africa makes it even more special. The lake is assumed to be about 400,000 years old. The lake has tributaries like rivers Akagera in Rwanda. The lake is then the source of the River Nile which is the longest river in the world. It is estimated that this river has dried about 3 times and the last time is about 17,300 years and then it refilled about 14,700 later.

This lake is known for very many other activities other than birding and Fishing. You can do rafting on the source of the Nile, boat cruises and sport fishing. The lake has about 84 islands that are all special with different features. The notable birding spots on lake Victoria Include Ngamba Island, Mabamba Bay, Lutemba Bay and Bulaga Island

Birding Spots on Lake Victoria

Mabamba swamp

Mabamba swamp is located on the shores of Lake Victorian the northern side in Entebbe. This  a prime wetland and its famous for the rare shoebill stock that is sought after by nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. It is a swamp thicket that covers about 2424 hectares with papyrus and lilies.

This swamp is a ramsar site and has also been listed as an Important Bird Area. The site boosts of over 300 bird species many of which are threatened. Its also home to 7 of the Lake victoria’s Biome endemics the most notable being the papyrus Gonolek and other water species. The site is also flocked by Paleartic migrants that are here from October through to March.

This swamp is known and popular for the shoebill stock that is one of the most sought after birds in Uganda. This bird is not found in many areas in Uganda. This place gives you the best chance in Uganda to see this rare bird.

Species of birds you expect to see on your birding tour around Mabamba Swamp Lake Victoria are; Malachite Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Northern Brown-throated Weather, Orange Weaver, Papyrus Gonolek, Pied Kingfisher,  Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Common Sandpiper, Common Sqacco Heron, Double Toothed Barbet, Glossy Ibis, Goliath Heron, Great Cormorant, Great White Egret, Great White Pelican, Green Cuckoo, Grey Heron, Grey-crowned Crane, Gull-billed Tern, Hadada Ibis, Harmerkop, Little Egret, Little Stilt, Long-tailed Cormorant, Long-toed Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Pink-backed Pelican, Pin-tailed Whyda, Purple Heron, Red-eyed Dove, Red-headed Love-bird, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Speckled Mousebird, Spur-winged Goose, Spur-winged Lapwing, Swamp Flycatcher, Veilots’ Black Weaver, Village Weaver, Water Thicknee,  Black-headed Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Blue Swallow, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-browed Cuckoo, White-faced Whistling Duck, White-throated Bee-eater, White-winged Tern, Winding Cistocola, Wood Sandpiper, Woodland Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-billed Duck,African Fish Eagle, Purple Swamphe, African Green Pigeon, African Jacana, African Marsh Harrier, African Pigmy Goose, Black Crake, Black Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black-crowned Waxbill.

Lutembe Bay

Just like Mabamba Swamp, Lutembe Bay is another ramsar site in Uganda and is also an Important Bird Area. Its located on Kampala Entebbe road about 4Km from Entebbe. Luembe also receives a sizable number of tourist but its not as popular as Mabamba Swamp. It’s a good site that will help you check off a few birds off the list.

The Lutembe Bay is located on the shores of lake Victoria and is home to many water birds and wetland related birds. The site is not just a swamp and extends abit into the woolandand grass thickets which contributes a variety of  birds and big volumes. This Bay is home to about 200 bird species. It is also housing about 8 of the 12 Lake Victoria  biome Endemics. The best time to visit this bay is September to March. During this time, a sizable number of bird species have been recorded. It is during this time that the Paleartic visiting birds are also sighted.

Most birding around Lutembe are usually the New Lutembe beach. As soon as you branch off the main road, you should start looking out for the special birds n the area. The area is still under populated and therefore still good to house birds.

Like most birding areas, you need to do birding in this area early in the morning before any activity that may disrupt the bird. This being a grassland area, you will have a chance to see a lot of insect eating birds

You can also take a boat ride along the beach to widen you scope and you will have a chance to see more birds along the beach more so in the virgin areas that are not inhabited by people. Doing birding around lutembe bay would give you a count of about 100 species.

Best time for bird watching on Lake Victoria in Uganda.

The best time to do birding on Lake Victoria is January, February, and March then June July and August. These are the dry months. This period is also low season and has low tourist numbers, making it easy to move around the park easily.

In the months of September, November and October and then March April and May are wet months and not the best time to visit the park since the roads become abit impassable.

What to pack on birding tour on Lake Victoria in Uganda.

Activities of birding are usually away from the cities and into the rural areas of the country and that require specific equipment. Therefore, minding what you carry for this safari is very important. Here are some of the essentials you need to carry on your birding safari to Lake Victoria: long sleeved shirts, pants of neutral colors, Water proof day pack/Field bag, Hiking boots, Field guidebook, Cameras, Pair of binoculars/ Scope, Chargers and other important Cables, Wide –brimmed hat, Light rain jacket, Flashlight and Medication.

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