The trip to Mabira & Mpanga Forest
I must openly admit to you my dear readers that I missed the morning bus to connect me to the rest of the group but at last, I made it. For now, I will skip the bits about the journey focus directly on the experience… I agree to this day that the ride to Mabira took longer than anticipated (what can one get out of public means of course!) and I missed a great deal of activity. My friends had long arrived and indeed half way the experience… sad for me already, but still going strong (hey, I had packed a whole 2 pounds of courage and excitement with me!). So here I was, ready with my binoculars and the guide to ‘EAST AFRICAN BIRDS and with a checklist of close to 30 bird species (I wasn’t doing so badly!). It happened so fast, before I could take in the whole presence of this magnificent tropical rainforest, my guide quickly pointed out the yellow white eye, forest birders are very fast (or shy I think), but I was blessed with my first view of this little creature. Before I could take a closer look, however, it fly away… now I had to be quieter and more attentive to the guide’s whispers and directions.
I had encountered the African thrush numerous times but was more than excited to see it once again in Mabira forest eating little Uganda safari ants and hoping around. It was the Tinker bird that brought back all the excitement; we looked all corners of the forest and still could not trace the call. At this point, my guide suggested that we use the swamp tail and perhaps might encounter it… He was right indeed, we did have a chance at it as it flew past… it has the most vibrant sound yet so little. I was blessed with the breathtaking sight of the Blue breasted kingfisher… oh it was a real sight to behold. This is one of the most rare bird species in tropical Africa could at this point be located at Semliki and Queen Elizabeth National parks.
The trip to Mpanga forest: breeding month for the Black and White Casqued Horn bills (August)Our next birding destination was a small forest on the Masaka highway. It is just on the road and you just can’t miss it. It was the breeding season for the Horn bills. If you ever find need to watch a great number of horn bills, Mpanga forest is definitely the perfect spot as I later discovered. One too many times, I came up-close with the male Black and white Casqued hornbill gathering mud for the construction of the nest. My guide guided us further down the forest and we came to the bottom of the giant tree where the construction was going on. What sight we were blessed with was a magnificent piece of work… the creativity with which the nest is constructed is some thing to behold.
Presently, the Great Blue Turraco was at it too (dangerously hatching her little eggs… it is common practice for hornbills to steal and feast on the eggs of others), this time however, the nest is made out of small pieces of wood and soft tree bunches unlike the horn bill which focuses makes a ‘Muddy finishing’. The Great blue Turraco rises the nest at the highest and thickest end of the tree so as to be secure from predators and the harsh weather of course.
While I marveled at the beauty of such creation, a white chinned prinia graced us with her presence. Oh… it my very first time alright and I was mesmerized. This little bird (the prinia) has a sharp sense for recognizing her own sound. My guide proved this by replaying her recorded vocals from a distance away and behold, she (the prinia) was back again, flying about and probably wondering who was calling. She retaliated with similar sounds probably sending out a message of help or was it some kind of threat to any enemy (us)!
My checklist is presently at 100 and am still counting.