Sunday, March 27, 2011

Uganda - morning, Thursday March 17th - Game drive in Murchison Falls

Another (very) early start ahead of our game drive into Murchison Falls. On the way to the game drive there was a river crossing and to make the 7am ferry we had to set-off good and early. This did lead directly to a sighting of Standard-winged Nightjar, flying around the bus though, which was great, amazing to see them flying with their extended wings above them! We had to get out of the bus for the ferry crossing, providing photography opportunities in the dawn light: We saw loads on the drive so, in no particular order (other than reverse alphabetical), and starting with the mammals, Uganda Cob: Giraffe: Some sort of spotted antelope: Patas's Monkey: Oribi: Hartebeast: More Giraffes: Buffalo: Antelope-type-thingy: African Elephant: More Giraffes, this one a full grown adult, no tree was safe! And now for the birds, reverse alphabetical again, starting with Woodchat Shrike: White-fronted Black Chat: White-crowned Sparrow-Weaver: White-browed Coucal: Swallow-tailed Bee-eater: Sparrow Weaver: Silverbird: Red-winged Grey Warbler: Rattling Cisticola: Piapiacs: Pale Flycatchers: Namaqua Dove: Montagu's Harrier: Lesser Kestrel: Pied/Black-and-White/Jacobin Cuckoo: Hartlaub's Wheatear: Grasshopper Buzzard: Emin's Shrike: Diederik Cuckoo: Crested Francolin: Cattle Egret: Caspian Plover: White-browed Scrub-Robin - I do like this picture: Black-capped Tchagra: Black-billed Wood Dove: And a frankly amazing bird, the Abyssinian (Northern) Ground Hornbill: and a female: At one point I managed to photograph and then record a singing African Moustached Warbler:

We had to fairly race back to the ferry to get across (they run hourly after the initial rush) and got there to find them just finishing. To cut a long story short, us and another group had to bribe them to make the run, even though the other lot had been unable to get across as the ferry was full (they're supposed to keep going until everyone is across). Cynical, but it did mean we got to have lunch at the Red Chillie campsite, which served good tea and coffee. And it had some good birds (including the Red-winged Grey Warblers above), such as a pair of Northern Puffbacks:

And Red-throated Bee-eater, the only one we saw on the trip and fleetingly at that:

We were booked on a three-hour boat trip to the base of the falls for the afternoon, but once it became clear our guide didn't need to come with us, we realised the chances of seeing much were very limited. Executive decision time, we decided to drive back to the lodge and see if we could get a guide (with obligatory gun) for a walk around the grounds that evening instead.

On the way back to the lodge we saw another Saddle-billed Stork:

And another new species, Northern Carmine Bee-eater:

Excellent! So back to the lodge for a shower and to wait and find out if the local guide was free...

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