Sunday, March 27, 2011

Uganda - morning, Wednesday March 16th - drive from Masindi to Murchison Falls

Another early start (you can start to see the pattern emerging!) after breakfast and we headed to our penultimate destination, Murchison Falls National Park. There's a direct route but there's also a route that takes you up to a dry escarpment and then down, along the shore of Lake Albert. Being on a birding trip we took the latter as it offered more distinct habitats. First, though, another short walk in Budongo forest, from along the track/road. We quickly had an audience, Blue Monkeys: and Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys: Further along the track Harriet heard a new Turaco calling, a Black-billed Turaco. She called, it called, she called, it flew out from the forest to have a closer look:


We left Budongo behind us, certainly a great birding destination, and headed up onto the escarpment. The change in the temperature was almost instant, from cool and pleasant to dry and very hot. We'd soon spotted a few birds, so dismounted from the bus for a wander around, it turned out to be a great location, adding Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling:





African Grey Hornbill:





Foxy Cisticola:








Black-billed Barbet:




Black-headed Batis:





Black-capped Tchagra:




As well as a few more familiar birds, like the Grey-headed Kingfisher:




All of these birds were within a five minute amble from the road!


From the escarpment the road leads down to the lake shore, which then heads North to the park. We saw many more birds from the bus and got out from time to time to photograph them, includeing Brown-backed Scrub Robin:



Bronze Sunbird, female:




Blue-headed Coucal:



Western Banded Snake Eagle:






A personal favourite of mine, the Swallow-tailed Bee-eater:




And Piapiacs:



One target bird for the holiday for me was the Dark Chanting Goshawk:





I was chuffed to bits to spot this bird, having wanted to see one since I first saw it in the Collins Field Guide to Europe!





On the wires, a Broad-billed Roller:




Wondering what we were up to no doubt!




Another Roller, this time a new species, the Abyssinian Roller:






As you head into Murchison Falls National Park there are areas, primarily those with long grass where biting flies basically keep up with the bus, looking for a way in to get at the humans inside. We discovered this whiel trying to photograph a Grasshopper Buzzard, hence this one being taken through the closed window:




We later found a Long-legged Buzzard, I tried to get out to follow and photograph the bird (it is a very unusual migrant through Uganda and we saw quite a few of them!), however was driven back in the large numbers of flies landing on me. The bird guide came in very handy in the end, they are nasty little insects. Simbaya River Lodge was our destination and we got there with a couple of hours to spare before a planned drive in the evening to the Falls themselves.

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