Group birding tours in Uganda

Group birding tours in Uganda

December 31, 2021
Safari Tips

Are you looking for small and large group birding tours in Uganda? Yes, Africa Adventure Vacations is the best travel agency in Uganda for group birdwatching trips of all sizes; look out for Albertian rift endemics, wildlife and primates during your safari with us.

Uganda is the best destination for group birding tours with a mix of African birding and wildlife adventure experiences. The country is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas; found in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park while chimps can be excellently spotted in Kibale forest national park.

Besides primates and wildlife, Uganda is famous for being a home to the strange yet wonderful Shoebill, the Albertine Rift endemics including Grauer’s or African Green Broadbill and the gorgeous Green-breasted Pitta that you can see during group birding tours.

Uganda is endowed with green and fertile land of high plateaus, papyrus-fringed lakes, thick forests with tall trees, and great swamps. It is also a land of contrasts to see the vast inland sea of Lake Victoria which is a source to the longest river in the world- River Nile, and papyrus swamps like Mabamba wetland where you can spot several birds such as the bizarre and endangered Shoebill.

The open savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park give you an opportunity to see several antelopes, buffalo and elephants against a backdrop of the mysterious Rwenzori ranges.

Furthermore, in the western part of the country, you will find great deep tropical forests, covering a large area and hosting huge families of chimpanzees and mountain gorillas, as well as hundreds of forest birds in Africa.

Where to go for group birding tours in Uganda

The following are key birdwatching destinations that can accommodate any group size during birding tours in Uganda;

Lake Victoria

This is a largest fresh water body in Africa with several swamps. A visit to Lake Victoria gives you an opportunity to see several birds. Your Lake Victoria birding trip will take you to visit a number of places located at the Entebbe peninsular such as Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Kigungu Landing site and Mugula Entebbe Cultural Ground in search for the following bird species;  Open-billed Stork, Pied Kingfisher, Long-tailed Cormorant, Long-toed Lapwing, Cattle Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Black-winged Stilt, Sand Martin, Kittlitz Plover, Black Heron, Egyptian Geese, Little Egret, Green Shank, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, sandpipers, Grey Headed Gulls, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, White-throated Bee-eater, Grey Woodpecker, African Pied Wagtail, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Black-headed Gonolek, Wooded Sandpiper, Red-eyed Dove, Red-chested Cuckoo, Grey Parrot, White-browed Coucal, Red-chested Sunbird, Fort-tailed Drongo among others.

Mabamba Swamp

Mabamba Swamp is adjacent to Lake Victoria and visitors usually take boat trip through an extensive papyrus swamp in search for the strange Shoebill or Whale-headed Stork. The shoebill stork is an extraordinary bird that is confined to papyrus swamps. Yes, you can also spot shoebills in swamps of southern Sudan and central Zambia, but Uganda has the largest number of them.

Other birds to see in Mabamba wetland includes; White-breasted and Reed (or Long-tailed) Cormorants, Little Egret, Hamerkop, the tiny Malachite Kingfisher, African Openbill, Squacco Heron, Yellow-billed Duck, Palm-nut Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Lesser Jacana, Woodland Kingfisher, White-browed Coucal, Grey-headed Gull, Yellow-backed, Gull-billed and White-winged Terns, Hadada Ibis, Pied and Giant Kingfishers, African Green Pigeon, Long-toed Lapwing, Winding and Red-faced Cisticolas, Grey-capped Warbler, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Mottled Spinetail, African Pied Wagtail, Broad-billed Roller, Speckled Mousebird, African Pied Hornbill Pied Crow, Northern Brown-throated, Swamp Flycatcher and Black-and-white Mannikin among others.

Kibale forest national park

Kibale forest is among the best birding destinations in Uganda and home to the jewel-like Green-breasted Pitta. Some travelers term it a capital of primates; hosting chimpanzees, baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, L’Hoest Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Patas monkey, Grey Cheeked Mangabeys, Vervet Monkeys among others.

Kbale forest national park covers an area of 795 square kilometers and it is just 6 hours’ drive from Uganda’s capital Kampala.

If you find yourself on group birding tours in Uganda, Kibale forest would crown your experience with a mix of chimpanzee trekking or a primate walk.

The following are the bird species in Kibale forest national park; Green White-eye as well as White-spotted Flufftail (though very difficult to see as opposed to hear), African Emerald, Dusky Long-tailed and Red-chested Cuckoos, Hairy-breasted, Blue Malkoha (or Yellowbill), Black-billed Turaco, Narina Trogon, Alpine Swift, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Speckled, the splendid Black Bee-eater, White-throated Bee-eater, Tambourine Dove, White-headed Saw-wing, Green-headed, Chestnut-winged Starling, Mountain Wagtail, Plain, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-throated Tinkerbirds, the striking Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Western Oriole, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush, Brown and Scaly-breasted Illadopsises, Yellow-billed and Yellow-spotted Barbets, White-chinned Prinia, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Pink-footed Puffback, Grey-throated Tit-flycatcher, Western Nicator, Black-necked, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Cassin’s Honeybird, Mosque and Lesser Striped Swallows, Collared, Western Olive, Joyful, White-throated and Honeyguide Greenbuls, Red-headed Malimbe, the delightful Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Green Hylia, Petit’s Cuckooshrike, Grey-chinned (or Green), Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Lowland Masked and Buff-throated Apalises, Green-throated, Superb and Copper Sunbirds, Dark-backed and Vieillot’s Black Weavers, Green Crombec, Blue-throated Brown, Grey-headed Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is endowed with the west African-type tropical forest and open savanna that is more typical of East Africa. The park hosts over 550 species, the largest of any conservation area in Africa!

Queen Elizabeth national park is a home to several mammals including the Vervet Monkey, Common Warthog, Topi, Uganda Kob, Bushbuck, Banded Mongoose, Waterbuck, African Buffalo, Scrub Hare, Giant Hog, Marsh Mongoose, leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Lions among others. We even have a good chance of encountering a Leopard.

The park is divided by the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward and Lake George. This channel hosts a population of Hippopotamuses and Nile Crocodiles as well as several birds like Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Black Crake, Grey, Purple and Goliath Herons, the elegant Rufous-chested Swallow, African Jacana, Water Thick-knee, African Sacred and Glossy Ibises, Great Egret,Egyptian Goose, Black-winged Stilt, Brown-throated Martin, Spur-winged and African Wattled Lapwings, Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plovers, Saddle-billed and Yellow-billed Storks, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Carruthers’s Cisticola and Papyrus Gonolek. These birds can easily be seen during a boat cruise safari on the Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth national park. In addition, the African Skimmers are often present.

Other birds you can see in Queen Elizabeth national park Uganda include; Marabou Stork, White-backed, Rüppell’s, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures, Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Gabar Goshawk, Wahlberg’s, Tawny, Martial and Long-crested Eagles, Lanner Falcon, Helmeted Guineafowl, Red-necked Spurfowl, Collared Pratincole, African (or Grassland) and Plain-backed Pipits, Mourning Collared, Ring-necked and Laughing Doves, Diederik Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Drongo, Black-headed Gonolek, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Blue-naped Mousebird, Northern Crombec, White-headed Barbet, Moustached Grass Warbler, Black-winged Kite, Hooded, Stout and Zitting Cisticolas, Western Black-headed Batis, Olive (or Madagascar) and Little Bee-eaters, African Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Lesser Honeyguide, African Grey Woodpecker, Rufous-naped and Flappet Larks, White-browed Robin-Chat, Black-bellied Bustard, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Southern Red Bishop, Sooty Chat, Northern and Grey-backed Fiscals, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Banded Martin, Arrow-marked and Black-lored Babblers, Trilling, Buff-bellied Warbler, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, African Paradise Flycatcher, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Red-billed Firefinch, Black-crowned and Marsh Tchagras, Senegal and Crowned Lapwings, Purple-banded and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Orange-breasted (or Sulphur-breasted) Bushshrike, Violet-backed Starling, Red-breasted Swallow, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Compact, Lesser Masked and Spectacled Weavers, Red-billed Quelea, Fan-tailed and White-winged Widowbirds, Green-winged Pytilia, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Common and Fawn-breasted Waxbills, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black and White-browed Coucals, Brimstone Canary and Golden-breasted Bunting.

Bwindi Impenetrable National park

Bwindi Impenetrable National park is rich in plants, mammals, birds and butterfly species. Over 330 bird species have been recorded and available for group birding tours in Uganda.

Bwindi is wonderfully known to be an ornithological site in Africa. Many travelers see birds while walking along the roads and on gently sloping tracks.

At lower levels of the forest, there excellent trails birders use in search for forest specials. For example, the Western Bronze-naped Pigeons and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoos call from the dense canopies of the forest are always heard, sedate Bar-tailed Trogons sit quietly overhead weird-looking Grey-throated Barbets inspect dead trunks and boughs.

You need patience to spot the highly elusive Grey-chested Babbler which is formerly known as the Grey-chested Illadopsis but now reclassified as a member of a small bird family that consists of this species, Dapple-throat and Spot-throat.

Other great undergrowth bird species are; the Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Red-throated Alethe, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Equatorial Akalat, and the unique Neumann’s (or Short-tailed) Warbler.

The fruiting trees attract several starlings like Waller’s, Slender-billed, Narrow-tailed and Stuhlmann’s. If you are lucky, you can encounter one or two of the rare inhabitants of the forest, such as the Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Jameson’s Antpecker and Oberlander’s Ground Thrush.

Other bird species in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park include; Red-tailed Greenbul, Black (or Great) Sparrowhawk, Willcocks’s Honeyguide, Cardinal and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, African Broadbill (a bird with a remarkable display), Chestnut Wattle-eye, Olive-green Camaroptera, Blue-throated Roller, Kakamega Greenbul, Red-tailed Bristlebill, the gorgeous but secretive Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Many-coloured, White-tailed Ant Thrush, Black-throated, Little, Slender-billed, Grey and Mountain Masked Apalises, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Ansorge’s, Black-billed and Brown-capped Weavers, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Cabanis’s, Dusky Tit, duetting Chubb’s Cisticolas, Sooty, African Dusky, Dusky-blue, Yellow-eyed Black and the rare Chapin’s Flycatchers, Lühder’s and Bocage’s Bushshrikes, Grey-headed, Little Green, Blue-headed and Northern Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Wagtail, Mackinnon’s Fiscal and Western Citril among others.

Best time to book Group birding tours in Uganda

From a birder’s point of view, Uganda can be visited for group birding tours throughout the year since most the bird species are residents. If you are choosing the best season to travel to Uganda, we focus our discussion on climate and the country has two seasons that is the dry and wet season.

During wet season, Uganda experiences heavy rains that makes connecting roads and forest trails muddy and slippery which at times interfere with your birding time.

Generally, the best time to book group birding tours in Uganda is late May through September when the country receives less rains and food is in abundance.

The main nesting season in Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks which are the key sites for the Albertine Rift endemics happens in May and June but from mid-April to mid-May the rains tend to be heavy and at times affects operations.

February and early March is the only period when Toro-Semliki national reserve is relatively dry however, it is uncomfortably hot in the northern part of the country including in Murchison Falls National Park.

December and January are also good months for birdwatching since the north is not always too hot and the southern part of the country experiences less rains.

The best time for primate trekking and wildlife viewing in Uganda’s national park is during the dry season of June to August and December to February.

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