Entebbe Botanical Gardens BirdingFebruary 17, 2023
A beautiful sunny day start and all morning and evening pleasant weather for a dry season on a Mabamba Shoebill Tour. Comfortable for birding, we could not wish for more. We hit the short drive to one of the world’s top sites to find the Shoebill; a giant bird that birdwatchers describe as prehistoric. The Mabamba wetlands are only a small portion of the extensive marshes surrounding Africa’s largest freshwater body; Lake Victoria. These shallow muddy marshes have attracted an endless list of aquatic wildlife, including the West African Lungfish (Protopterus annectens), a primitive, old-world, aestivating fish species. During aestivation (suspended animation), they can do without food and water for three to five years and make no urine or waste. They wake up when water becomes available. This fish is the Shoebill’s primary diet, and there is minimal competition here. On blessed days like this one, they show up quickly. That was the case for today’s Mabamba Shoebill Tour, three Shoebill individuals within one hour. Of course, there was a fancy selection of classic African waterfowl, including Yellow-billed Duck, Western Little and the Great Egret, Squacco and Purple Heron, and African Jacana in hundreds and half a dozen African Marsh Harriers hunting overhead. We also have a few migratory shower birds that included Common Greenshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Common Ringed Plover, Little Stint and a Gul-billed Tern.
In the afternoon after our Mabamba Shoebill Tour and after the lunch break, we paid a second visit to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. They had treated us so well the previous day and did for today. We saw Crowned Hornbills, African and Eurasian Hobbys, Western Yellow Wagtail, Woodland Kingfisher, Green Pigeon, Hooded Volture, Harrierhawk, and Willow Warbler, Olive Sunbird, White-browed Robin-chat and an adorable male Klass’s Cuckoo and Red-fronted Tinkerbird that responded too well to the whistles. Generally a perfect day