Thursday, March 24, 2011

Uganda - afternoon, Thursday March 10th - Kasinga Channel Boat Trip

Harriet has been on more than 25 of these cruises with clients in the past including,no doubt,5 - 10 in the season just past; she suggested we position ourselves on the left side of the boat, so we did. She was of course spot on!

The boat was about 80% full, by my estimate, 30-odd people from a complement of 40. It sets out and crossed the relatively narrow channel and... immediately there are so many birds to see it was hard to take them all in, recognise new species, select which ones to photograph, etc. A good example of this is was that I saw three or four African Skimmers (a new species for us) but instead opted to photograph another bird. It turns out that was the only opportunity to photograph the new species.

Anyway, we saw loads of birds on this two-hour boat trip, including Yellow-billed Stork, seen here amongst Great Cormorants:

And here in close-up, feeding:

Water Thick-knee:

Spur-winged Lapwings:

A stand-out bird, the Saddle-billed Stork, this one a female (yellow eye):

And here a male (dark eye and wattling):

A small flock of Sacred Ibis:

A group of Red-billed Oxpeckers on one of the also abundant mammals:

Pink-backed Pelicans:

On the high bank, a sub-adult Marshall Eagle:

Marsh Sandpiper:

Marabou Storks or 'evil storks' as Helen calls them:

The sheer numbers of birds on the undisturbed land is really something, as you can see here from the Great Cormorants:

You really can get close to the birds without disturbing them. Here up-close is a Little Egret:

One bird I really wanted to see on this trip was the Intermediate Egret, which proved obliging:

We passed a small group of Grey-headed Gulls:

A familiar bird from home, the Grey Heron:

Gray-headed Kingfisher:

Our second-ever sighting of a Goliath Heron:

Egyptian Geese:

Black-winged Stilt:

African Wattled Lapwing:

A majestic bird, the African Fish Eagle, with a call like our gulls, which reminded us of the seaside, though this channel is well over 500 miles from the sea!

A perched sub-adult bird:

Did I mention the mammals, there were loads, including Water Buck:

And hippopotamus:

One group caught our attention, a mother stood protectively over a very young hippo:

The baby was unsteady on its feet and the mother fussing which led to a few slips and bumps:

Other wildlife included Crocodile:

Monitor Lizards of various sizes including this huge one:

African Elephant:


As the trip neared it's end I was a bit down in the gob. I had seen African Skimmer but I hadn't managed a photograph. The skipper took us back to the start of the trip, the first place we'd seen them but they were gone. Sigh.

Harriet had a word with the skipper and convinced him that extending the trip a bit and checking out a different part of the land, back the way we'd come and up anther channel, would help him re-locate the flock, which of course was important for him to know, so he obliged!

Halfway up this second channel we could see a large flock of mostly white birds on the far shore, approaching fast. As luck would have it we did relocate the African Skimmers, together with a mixed flock of White-winged Black Terns and Gull-billed Terns too:

The fact that is was raining at this point was neither here nor there, some passengers stayed top-side to watch. Most, I believe, wanted to see the mammals but when you're this close to birds like these, you just have to stop and look, which everyone did:

We were very happy. On docking the captain got a fat tip and we got back in the bus for the trip back to Simba to sample a few more of those beers and a veggie curry special!

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