Mabamba Swamps

Shoebill at Mabamba Swamp
  • Size: 2,424 ha
  • District: Mpigi
  • Birds Recorded: 260 Species
  • Altitude: 1,130 m

While Birding Uganda, consider Mabamba Wetland because it is the only place and site, best in the whole world for sighting the Shoebill Stork after Murchison Falls National Park, along with other birds of global conservation concern. The Shoebill can be spotted at any one time of the day in the year on a birding tour at Mabamba.

The wetlands boost of a 260 bird species record, with seven of the 12 Lake Victoria Basin biome species that occur in Uganda being available.

The notable ones after the recent years’ surveys include the elusive Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) which also breeds from the region, the Papyrus Gonolek, House Sparrow which is Vagrant, Mosque Swallow (monteiri race), Weyn's Weaver, White-shouldered Tit, Sand Martin, Brown Snake-Eagle, Eurasian Hobby, Grosbeak Weaver, Blue-headed Coucal, Fork-tailed Drongo, Feral Pigeon, Flappet Lark, Long-Crested Eagle, Stripped Kingfisher, Common Stonechat, Common Greenshank, Little bee-eater, Whinchat, Grey Wagtail, Great Blue Turaco, Grassland Pipit, Orange Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Black-headed weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Black Headed Gonolek, Ruppell's Long-tailed Sterling, Grey-Headed Sparrow, Spur-winged Lapwing, Yellow Wagtail, African Pied Wagtail, Pied King Fisher, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Olivaceous Warbler, Tawny Eagle, Carruther's Cisticola, Ross's Turaco, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Ashy Flycatcher, Rufous-napped Lark, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Common Squacco Heron, White-faced Whistling-duck, Fulvous Whistling-duck, Goliath Heron, Slender-billed Gull, Spur-winged Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, African Marsh Harrier, White-browed Coucal, Violet-backed Sterling, name it.

Mabamba has become one of the strong holds for the migrant Blue Swallow with over 100 individuals recorded every year.

Like many papyrus swamps adjacent to Lake Victoria, Mabamba is home to the Sitatunga, a swamp antelope which is commonly hunted by local people.

It is also a habitat to rare plant species like Sandboxes species

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

This sedentary medium-sized wading bird of 56 cm long, weighing 470 gm is know to occur from Africa to coastal southwest Arabia wetlands.

Hamerkops feed during the day, the main diet consists of amphibians and fish. Sometimes, they eat shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, shuffling one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding.

Hamerkops, of all birds make the biggest nest in the trees, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.

They lay 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest at 44 to 50 days.

In culture, the bird is associated to bad omen; Some cultures in Uganda believe, when the bird patches on ones house then they are likely to be struck by lightening. In some places, when it calls over the house, people know that someone close to them has died. The Kalahari Bushmen believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an "evil bird". Such beliefs have given the bird some protection.

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.

Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus)

Kingdom: Amimalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Meropidae, Genus: Merops

The Blue-breasted Bee-eater is endemic to Africa and just as the name suggests, predominantly eats flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which are caught in the air by sallies from an open perch. While pursue any type of flying insect, honey bees predominate in their diet. Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) comprise from 20% to 96% of all insects eaten, with honey bees comprising approximately one-third of the Hymenoptera.

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