Murchison Falls National Park

Gray-crowned Crane
  • Size:3,840 sq km
  • District: Masindi
  • Altitude: 650-1292 m
  • Checklist: 460 bird Species
  • Geographical location: North-western Uganda, some 300km from Kampala, directly north of Masindi on the shores of Lake Albert.

The 9th ranking of Africa’ birding spots, is 90km from Masindi town in the northwestern part of Uganda. This is the largest amongst all national parks in Uganda. It protects a variety of untamed African savannah!

Murchison Falls National Park of Uganda got its name from the dramatic Murchison Falls which are found within the park. These falls are spectacular and are formed at a point where the world's longest river explodes through a narrow gorge and flows down to become a river. Its banks are thronged with plenty of wild life from Mammals to birds and Reptiles. The vegetation is characterised by Savannah, riverine forest and woodland. A large number of mammals are found in this area: include Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Giraffes, Cape buffaloes, Hartebeests, Oribis, Uganda kobs, name it. Rabongo Forest which is situated in the South-east of the park is home to a number of primates such as Chimpanzees and other rainforest creatures.

The Park boasts of a rich avi-fauna, with a Checklist of up to 460 bird species and 76 mammal species due to its large size and wide range of habitats. It is certain that the birds Checklist list is incomplete and many additions can be expected with more intensive research. The Murchison falls National Park together with Bugungu and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves form the Murchison Falls Protected Area.

The Park supports 20 species from three non-qualifying biomes: 11 species of the Guinea–Congo Forests, 6 species of the Afro tropical Highlands and 3 of the Somali–Masai biome.River Nile

The Nile itself hosts one of Africa's densest hippos and crocodile populations, and a dazzling variety of water birds such as the African Fish Eagle, African Skimmer and the elusive Shoebill stork which can easily be seen at the banks of the river. A boat cruise to the delta is a highlight for an avid birdwatcher. Other bird species that can be seen on a birding Safari include the Silver Bird, Blue-napped Mouse birds, Grey-crowned Crane, Bluff-bellied Warblers, Goliath Heron, Black-headed Batis, Black-headed Gonolek, Green-winged Ptyilia, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver, Long-toed Plover, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Saddle-billed Stork, Spotted Mourning Thrush, Spotted and Verreaux’s Owls, Long-tailed and Pennant-winged Nightjars, standard-winged Nightjar, White-backed Night Heron and Pel’s Fishing Owl.

Fishing is available in the river above and below the falls, Nile Perch and tiger-fish provide an exciting challenge to anglers. Do bring your own fishing equipment.

Nature walks are offered at Rabongo Forest, top of the fall and Kaniyo Pabidi. Murchison Falls Conservation Area offers the opportunity to explore the wild on foot.
A trail at Paraa winds through riverine forest, gullies and low hills. Animals, birds and plants can be closely and quietly observed.

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.