Liz's Uganda Trip

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Mabamba Swamp

Shoebill at Mabamba Swamp

We had a very early morning start and a two hour drive, so that we would reach the swamp fairly early to have a good chance of seeing the Shoebills for which it is famous.
Mabamba swamp is a RAMSAR site, and a community project, with local people employed as boatmen and guides.
As we set off, we saw some fleeting Pygmy Kingfishers and this singing Swamp Flycatcher, Muscipapa aquatica. This is a really attractive little Flycatcher, but this photo doesn't do it justice.

Swamp Flycatcher
Wild Shoebill standing in swamp

Although we had seen the Shoebills at Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre close-up, we all hoped to see them in the wild. It had been my no. 1 'wish bird' for years, not helped by the fact that one arrived in Kenya one year when I was there with my husband, but we didn't hear about it until just before our flight home.
We went in two small boats and were lucky to see a Shoebill about 50m away. He stood for about ten minutes, then slowly walked away.

As well as being used by visiting birders anxious to see the Shoebills, the channels in the swamp are also used by locals to get around, making the little boats, effectively, water taxis. people on small boat

The incredibly large beak of the Shoebill helps it to scoop up its prey, the main items of which are lungfish, catfish, frogs and water-snakes. They can also use it to store water to take to dribble over its eggs or young during thye heat of the day.
Uganda is one of the best places to see them, as their main stronghold, the Sudd in Sudan, is very difficult to access

Other birds we saw while watching the Shoebill were this African Marsh Harrier, Circus ranivorus, (left) which was quartering the Swamp and a flock of about 20 White-Winged Terns, Chlidonias leucopterus, (below) which flew overhead.
White-winged terns
African Marsh Harrier
Because of low light (inside the long reeds) and a moving boat, the only other bird I managed to photograph at the swamp was this Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta.
Chimpanzees Entebbe
Botanic Gardens
Entebbe Wildlife
Education Centre
Queen Elizabeth
National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable
National Park
Murchison Falls
National Park

Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] lizworld [dot] com
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