Albertine Rift Endemic Birds Search - 17 Days

This Uganda Birding Safari is a once-in-a-lifetime birding experience. This Uganda birding tour takes you to Biodiversity hotspots and yet the country’ major Important Bird Areas of the Albertine Rift in Uganda. We search for the Albertine Rift Mountains EBA species in Uganda. Specialities include; African Green Broadbill, Archer's Robin-Chat, Dwarf Honeyguide, Dusky Crimson-wing, Shelley's Crimson-wing, Strange Weaver, Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Purple -breasted Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Short -tailed/Neumann's Warbler, Grauer's Warbler, Grauer's Rush Warbler, Collared Apalis, Mountane Masked Apalis, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-throated Alethe, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Nightjar, Rwenzori Turaco, Yellow-crested Helmet Shrike and the Handsome Francolin.

Day 1: Arrival for Uganda Birding Tour - Bird Uganda Tours

Arrive at Entebbe International Airport, transfer to the Hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, we bird Entebbe botanical Gardens or Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.

Overnight at Lake Victoria Hotel | Entebbe Traveller Inn(Full Board)

Day 2: Birding Mabamba for the Shoebill and Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

After an early breakfast, we bird to Mabamba – Kamengo Wetlands about 50km west of Entebbe area on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is one of the few remaining swamps in Uganda protected by the local communities - an extensive papyrus swamp with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons, classified as an IBA (Important Bird Area) and home to several pairs of Shoebills, Uganda’s most famous avian resident. This charismatic species, the only representative in its family, is certainly amongst the most sought-after birds in Africa and we’ll make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels by canoe. There will of course be a good selection of classic East African water birds: Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed Cormorant, Goliath Heron, African Fish-Eagle, African Marsh-Harrier, Yellow-billed Duck, African Water Rail, Allen's Gallinule, and Malachite Kingfisher along with slightly more local species such as Long-toed Plover, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue-headed Coucal, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Swamp Flycatcher, White-winged & Papyrus Yellow Warblers. Other areas in and around Entebbe/Kampala may produce African Open-billed Stork, Grey Kestrel, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, African Green Pigeon, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher – maybe the rare Weyn’s Weaver.

Lake Mburo National Park is 260 sq. km and it has markedly different fauna from other reserves. It is the only national park that contains an entire lake. Situated in rolling hills and open grassy valleys, the park also consists of 4 other smaller lakes.

Overnight at Mihingo Lodge or Rwakobo Rock (Full Board)

Day 3: Birding to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda

Today, we bird to Kisoro in western Uganda for the birding experience in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is the country’ most scenic protected area.

Overnight at Travellers Rest Inn (Full Board)

Day 4: Birding Mgahinga - Uganda Birdwatching Safari

Regal Sunbird

We bird through a variety of Montane habitats, In search for the Rwenzori Turaco, Dwarf Honeygude, Kivu Ground Thrush, Rwenzori Double-collared, Regal and the Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Archer`s Robin chat, cinnamon Bracken and Mountain Yellow Warblers, the Dusky and much Sought after Shelley’s Crimson-wing along with many more.

Overnight at Travellers Rest Inn (FB)

Day 5: Bird watching to Ruhija

Today we bird Ruhija in search of the darling African Green Broadbill, Handsome Francolin, Strange Weaver, Shelley’s and Dusky Crimson-wings, Stripe-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Batis, White-browed Crombec, White-naped Raven, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Sharp’s Starling, Mountain masked and Rwenzori Apalises exctra.

Overnight at Ruhija Gorilla Lodge or Gorilla Mist Camp (Full Board)

Day 6: Birding to Mubwindi Swamp – Highlights (African Green Broadbill and Grauer’s Rush Warbler

This section of Bwindi is generally at a higher altitude and therefore is cooler. Temperatures range between 10 and 18 degrees centigrade. Forest birding at Bwindi ranks the best in Uganda. It is home to over 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics.

Specialty birds include; Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Grauer's Warbler, Banded Prinia, Black-faced Apalis, Black-throated Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis, Red-throated Alethe, Yellow-eyed Black-flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Chapin's Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Cassin's Grey Flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, White-bellied Crested-flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Mountain Illadopsis, African Hill-Babbler, Dusky Tit, Blue-throated Brown Sunbird, Blue-headed Sunbird, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Mackinnon's Fiscal, Sooty Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Doherty's Bush-shrike, White-naped Raven, Montane Oriole, African Golden Oriole, Stuhlmann's Starling, Narrow-tailed Starling, Waller's Starling, Strange Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver, Black-billed Weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Yellow-crowned Canary, Thick-billed Seedeater, Streaky Seedeater, African Green Broadbill, Shelly's Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Mountain Buzzard, Ayre's Hawk-eagle, Handsome Francolin, Black-billed Turaco, Barred Longtailed Cuckoo, African Wood-Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Black Bee-eater, (Western) Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Elliot's Woodpecker, African Broadbill, Western Green Tinkerbird, Lagdens Bush Shrike, Petit's Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Archer's Ground Robin, Toro Olive-Greenbul, Ansorge's Greenbul, Equatorial Akalat, White-bellied Robin chat, Olive Thrush, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Grauer's Rush-warbler, Short-tailed Warbler, Neumann's Warbler and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.

Overnight at Ruhija Gorilla Lodge or Gorilla Mist Camp (Full Board)

Day 7: Gorilla Tracking and Birding to Buhoma - Bird Watching Uganda Tour

After an early breakfast, you will report to the park headquarters for briefing prior to the gorilla tracking excursion. This activity may take anywhere between 1 hour and 8 hours so a reasonable degree of fitness is required. It is a wonderful experience to stare in to the eyes of these gentle giants; watch them in awe as they play and go about their daily activities. It is indeed a “once in a lifetime” experience that you must never miss. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards, but you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display.

Birding through “the neck” to Buhoma- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Overnight at Buhoma Lodge or Buhoma Community Rest Camp (Full Board)

Bird through Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, this drive takes your through the Savannah. Therefore you will pick some Savannah and woodland species. Mammals may include; African Buffalo, tree climbing lions, African Elephants, Common Warthog and a number of antelope species.

Overnight at Hotel Margherita (FB)

Day 10: Hike Rwenzori Day One (Albertine Rift Endemic Bird Species Known to Occur in the Rwenzori are Highly Common)

The trek takes you through the pristine rainforest of kyambogho ridge with a view of the Mubuku Valley then climb the heavily forested ridge which is home to many primates, such as Black and White colobus monkey, Blue monkey and occasionally the elusive L'hoest monkey up to Omu’ka Kizza Rest Camp at 2,977metres. Here you will enjoy the magnificent views over the Rwenzori foothills and Kasese town 2,160 metres below.

Overnight at Omu'ka Kizza 2,600MASL.

Day 11: Hike Rwenzori Day Two

The second day you hike to Mahoma lake. At 3,200 masl, the forest gives way to thick bamboo to along a narrow moss covered ridge, once on top you cross a mossy valley with giant lobelia then climb through an incredibly beautiful forest of giant heather covered in layers of bright green moss.

Wilderness Camping. (Full Board)

Day 12: Bird Descending Rwenzori Start with a morning walk along the lake Mahoma and descend through Nyabitaba a ranger post to the Rwenzori Three-horned Chameleon before you come out of the forest.

Overnight at Hotel Margherita (Full Board)

(Mountain Checklist; Sleeping bag, mountain boots, woolen socks, trekking trousers, cotton shirts, warm woolen underwear, warm pullover, woolen cap, hand gloves, woolen mitten, headlamp, sunhat, rain proof and warm gear, walking stick, Stomach upset drugs, elastic bandage, elastoplasts, sunscreen)

Day 13: Birding to Semliki Valley National Park in Uganda - Birds of Uganda Tour

Today morning, we bird Rwenzori NP for more species possibly missed the previous days and later proceed to Semliki Valley National Park.

Overnight at Mountains of The Moon Hotel (FB)

Day 14 & 15: Bird watching Uganda Tour at Semliki Valley NP - Birds of Uganda Safari

In Semliki, we bird the Kirumia trail and the forest in general. We look out for a number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa yet are some of the continent's most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, the Black-Casqued Wattled, Piping, Red-billed Dwarf, and White-crested Hornbills, the Nkulengu Rail, and other species;Blue Swallow, White-throated Blue Swallow, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Spotted Greenbul,White-starred Robin, Lowland Akalat, Red-throated Alethe, Fire-crested Alethe, Snowy-headed Robin-Chat, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Red-eyed Puffback, White-tailed Robin-Chat, Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin, Capped Wheatear, Common Stonechat, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Oberlaender’s Ground-Thrush, Grey Ground-Thrush, Little Grey Greenbul, Toro Olive Greenbul, Mountain Greenbul, Yellow-throated Nicator, Western Nicator,just to mention but a few.There is a single, unconfirmed report of the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel.

Overnight at Mountains of The Moon Hotel (FB)

Day 16: Birding to Kampala/Entebbe

Day 17: Departure - End of Uganda Albertine Rift Endemic Birds Search Tour

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Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul

Greater Blue-eared Starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)

The Greater Blue-eared Starling is among the starlings with short tails. Grows to up to 23 cm from bill to tail.

Sexes are similar except the immature which is generally duller compared to the iridescent blue-green coloured adult.

They nest in holes in trees, either natural or excavated by woodpeckers. And sometimes in large stick nests of the Sacred Ibis or Abdim's Stork. Here they lay 3 to 5 eggs which are greenish-blue with some brown or purple spots, and hatch in 13–14 days. The chicks leave the nest in another 23 days.

Greater Blue-eared Starlings are omnivore, taking a wide range of invertebrates seeds and berries, especially figs, but insects are the main diet.

White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis)

The very gregarious White-throated Bee-eaters grow to 19–21 cm length, excluding the tail streamers, which can exceed an additional 21 cm length.

Sexes are similar and weigh between 20 and 28 grams.

White-throated Bee-eaters breeds in dry sandy open country, where nest colonially in sandy banks or open flat areas. They make a relatively long 1–2 m tunnel in which 6 to 7 spherical white eggs are laid. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, but up to five helpers also assist with caring for the young.

Predominantly, they eat insects, especially bees, wasps, ants, beetles and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch.

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata)

Great Blue Turaco

Turacos are a group of African near-passerines. The Great Blue Turaco is the largest turaco and also the largest species in the diverse Cuculiformes order (which includes the cuckoos).

Generally, the Great Blue Turaco is 70–76 cm in length with a mass of 800–1,231 g. In the Bandundu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Great Blue Turaco is actively hunted for meat and feathers. The blue and yellow tail feathers are prized for making good luck talismans.

Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis)

This brightly coloured medium-sized Kingfisher ranges from 20 - 23 cm, from bill tip to tail.

The bird is endemic to Africa, preferring a variety of wooded habitats with some trees, especially Acacias, including around human habitation. The Woodland Kingfisher is aggressively territorial, attacking intruders including humans. It has a striking display in which the wings are spread to show the white linings.

They nest in tree holes excavated by Woodpeckers or Barbets, where they lay up to three round white eggs.

Grauer's Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri)

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Family: Eurylaimidae, Genus: Pseudocalyptomena, Species: Pseudocalyptomena graueri

The Grauer's Broadbill or African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) is an actual broadbill, one of only a few African representatives of a primarily Asian family. It is bright green with a blue throat and vent and a small bill, quite unlike those of the other broadbills. It is endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests where it forages in canopies.

It is one of the African Big Five bird species, highly sought after by ornithologists but very elusive.

The species is both globally endangered and endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.