Sunday, March 20, 2011

Uganda - morning, Sunday March 7th - Lake Mburo NP, Boat Trip

Our second morning in Uganda dawned beautifully (early):



We watched the sun rise as we had breakfast:



and then headed to Lake Mburo for our scheduled boat trip. They like to ram in the activities, us British Birders have a reputation for being obsessive listers... we decided to roll with it to start off with. Our guide was carrying a pair of binoculars and an AK47. This turned out to be another (predicted) theme of the holiday. Confidence doesn't carry an AK47 but he's not allowed to leave the vehicle in any National Parks and must behave well at all times. If you want to leave the vehicle you must be armed with a machine gun...

We headed out on to the lake, steering around the larger residents:



Our first bird of the morning and a great start, a White-backed Night Heron:



Followed quickly by a Squacco Heron:



and a Pied Kingfisher, who appeared to have a meal bigger than it could swallow:



A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron:



All of these birds were on the right-hand side in the trees, as we headed towards the Papyrus, with the lake water still wreathed in mist:



Our primary target (I can't speak for the guides here, just Helen and I) was the Papyrus Gonolek:



Having achieved our goal I asked if we'd be able to locate African Finfoot too. We headed back past the launch area and across to other side of the lake, passing a small beach, which had a small but diverse selection of birds, including a Wood Sandpiper:



Water Thick-Knees:





Hadada Ibis:



I hadn't appreciated before the subtleties of their plumage and colouration, splendid birds. Another new species then, the Three-banded Plover:



You quickly run out of superlatives to describe the new species you encounter:



A Common Snipe (more familiar territory):



And then, bingo! A female African Finfoot:



We tracked her through the undergrowth of the shoreline until she stopped to preen, allowing me to take a (poor quality) photograph from the moving boat. Shortly thereafter our heavily-armed guide spotted a male:



Another theme then, as well as being heavily armed the guides are superb, almost (but not completely) without exception. They typically have spent their whole lives in the habitat with the birds in question. It really does make a huge amount of sense to make use of their services wherever possible.

Concentrating again on the other species around, one of the African Fish Eagles was trying to dry out its plumage after a feeding run on the lake:



Having seen all of the primary target species we headed back to shore to have a mooch around the launch area, spotting Olivaceous Warbler:



Fork-tailed Drongo:



and a pre-migration Willow Warbler:



It was time to get back on the bus and begin a game drive back out of the park. We encountered a lot on the way back out including Zebra:



An inquisitive Ruppell's Long-tailed Starling:



Dwarf Mongoose:



Emerald-Spotted Wood-Dove:



A Brown Snake Eagle flew low overhead:



At various points along the road we stopped to view Broad-billed Rollers:





And Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters:



As well as more raptors, including this sub-adult Bateleur Eagle:


And a perched Augur Buzzard:




There was no let-up in the pace, as heading out of Lake Mburo National Park we made for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest...

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