Friday, March 25, 2011

Uganda - afternoon, Sunday March 13th - Fort Portal Botanical Gardens

We got to Fort Portal early afternoon, in time to check in at the Rwenzori Travellers Inn. We have some feedback about this place. First they have a pair of wild Grey Parrots in a very small cage. This leads to continual loud and distressing noise. Second some of the staff think it's cool to taunt the Parrots, especially late at night, waking them up to get them to make noise. Third they didn't have the room made-up and didn't try to finish it. Fourth - the food is random. For dinner on the Sunday evening I ordered Mutter Paneer (Peas and Curd Cheese Curry), I got served spaghetti with a korma flavoured sauce. Even worse they forgot to make our packed lunch for the Monday, panicked and then prepared the same as we had for dinner. So yes, spaghetti with korma sauce and no cutlery! It's fair to say this was the low point of the holiday. We'd made sure, repeatedly, to advise the agent Birding Uganda we were vegetarian. Repeatedly. Our hosts found out the night we got there at 10:30pm, hence our first packed lunch was cold vegetable curry no cutlery. We felt that the agent had basically trousered a big amount of cash and left Confidence and Harriet to sort everything out. We also found out in Fort Portal that the reason we needed to 'pop to the bank' every couple of days was that whilst we were secure, our guide and driver were vulnerable, due to their accommodation, and indeed targets for thieves, so they were only comfortable holding a minimum of cash. Again, we pre-paid for the whole tour and gave lots of information in advance. I think Confidence and Harriet did a great job but personally I would have given the company a major kick up the backside had we met them. Final point - if you go to Uganda DON'T stay at the Rwenzori Travellers Inn. There are much better places to stay in Fort Portal.

Where was I? Oh yes, Sunday afternoon. Having checked in, got some towels delivered to the room (repeated trips up and down 4 flights of stairs), and given up on pillow cases, we got ourselves out to meet Harriet and Confidence for an impromptu visit to the Fort Portal Botanical Gardens.

Shortly after we got there it poured with rain. We sought shelter under an awning of the building where we were hustled for the entrance fee, which Harriet ensured we paid but only on production of an official receipt...

Despite the rain, the gardens proved very productive and I'd recommend them as a good place to break a journey. First-up, a migrant feeding-up before heading North, the Willow Warbler:

Scarlet-chested Sunbird: Red-bellied Flycatcher: Mackinnon's Fiscal - with, unusually, the female feeding the male who was perched higher, never seen that before in any species:
Holub's Golden Weaver:
Hadada Ibis:
This was originally identified as a Fawn-breasted Waxbill, but is in fact a Yellow-bellied Waxbill:
Fan-tailed Widowbird:

Cardinal Woodpecker - the punk of the Woodpecker world:

Bronze Mannikin, one of many:

Black-crowned Waxbill:
These were hard to photograph as we only saw then just before, during and just after the (heavy) rain. Once the rain stopped the volume of insects increased notably, good news for flycatchers, including this African Dusky Flycatcher:
And then a major target species for the holiday, one I've been bugging my brother to photograph on his trips to the country, an African Blue Flycatcher:

Funny how birds can really make you smile!!

So back to the armpit that is the Rwenzori Travellers Inn (see above!).

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