Saturday, March 26, 2011

Uganda - morning, Tuesday March 15th - Budongo, The Royal Mile

We got up for an early breakfast and start to the day's birding. After breakfast we were sat waiting for Confidence and Harriet to arrive when there was a sound like a train passing, or jet? There's no likelihood of low-flying airliners and no train line. Then the shaking started. Earthquake! A few of us brave types immediately ran out from under the building to wait out the earthquake. Later research indicated a 5.0 earthquake located 29 miles to the North-west, centered (unsurprisingly really) in Lake Albert in the Albertine Rift. That was a shock to get the pulse going! So, dusted down, we set off for the short-ish drive to The Royal Mile in Budongo Forest, picking up a local guide, Raymond, en route. From the minute you get off the bus it's obvious you are in a special place, the air was alive with birdsong and many birds were flitting about. It's fair to say that while the day remained overcast and grey, poor for photography, the birding itself was the best of the holiday, for me anyway. We managed to see (from great views to fleeting glimpses) almost all the local specialities with one notable exception, the Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. Some of the birds we managed to both see and record included, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul: Yellow-mantled Weaver: White-throated Prinia (again!): Western Black-headed Oriole: Red-throated Cuckoo: Red-tailed Monkeys moved around the trees: A Lemon-bellied Crombec, finishing building its nest: One absolutely delight was an unexpected encounter with a group of Chimpanzees. You normally have to pay and spend a day tracking them with a specialist guide with no guarantee of actually finding them, but as we walked down the path, there they were: Helen was particularly chuffed with seeing these as she'd really hoped for such an encounter at some point during the holiday. More birds included the locally common Blue-throated Roller: Blue-breasted Kingfisher:

Another Piping Hornbill:

African Dwarf Kingfisher:

We took lunch by the river at the end of the Royal Mile, watching Barn Swallows and Black and White-headed Saw-wings drink from the water, while Cassin's Spinetail circled overhead. We were also mobbed by small powder-blue butterflies. The walk back was great too.

Raymond and Harriet were a great team - Raymond has spent his life in the forest and can mimic most birdsong. We were on a real high heading back to the Masindi hotel, top birding!

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