Birding safari in queen Elizabeth national park
Birding safari in queen Elizabeth national park: Queen Elizabeth National Park is the second largest national parks in Uganda, spanning over a radius of 1,798 square kilometers. This national park is one of the most visited national parks in Uganda for wildlife viewing. The national park, which was named after the Queen of England, was established in 1952.
Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the best destinations for viewing savannah wildlife animals in Uganda. The park is home to more than 95 species of mammals and over 612 bird species, thus making it an ideal spot for bird watching tours.
Birding is one of the most interesting and thrilling activities to do in Queen Elizabeth national park especially if you are a bird lover. There are lots of bird species which can be sighted in the national park, which fall under different categories such as aquatic birds, woodland birds, forest dwellers, and even migratory birds like the greater and lesser flamingos to add to the list. Birding tours in Queen Elizabeth national park can be done in different locations such as;
Birding in Queen Elizabeth can best be done in the Kazinga Channel. The channel is 40 kilometers long and joins two lakes in the national park, namely Lake Edward and George. Birding on the Kazinga Channel is best done on a boat cruise, which can be done either in the morning or afternoon. During the birding expedition, you can sight common bird species such as; the grey headed kingfisher, the slender billed weaver, the pin tailed whydah, the yellow backed weaver, the pygmy kingfisher, the red chested sunbird, and the long tailed cormorant among others.
Birding in the Mweya Peninsular:
Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be done in the Mweya Peninsular which is located on the northern banks of Kazinga Channel at a point where the channel connects to Lake Edward. The Mweya Peninsular mainly comprises thick savannah vegetation, and it happens to be one of the destinations where visitors can easily spot leopards, elephants, hippos, buffaloes and other wildlife animals. Some of the birds that you can sight during a birding expedition in the Mweya peninsular include; the African mourning dove, the Black headed Gonolek, the Red Capped Lark, the Nubian Woodpecker, the Scarlet Chested Sunbird, the Grey headed kingfisher, and the Blue napped mouse-bird to mention but a few.
Birding in Maramagambo Forest:
Maramagambo forest is another great birding location in Queen Elizabeth national park. This forest happens to be one of the largest forests located within the national park, and it is situated in Bushenyi district. The forest stretches from the Kichwamba escarpments until Lake Edward. Some common bird species that can be sighted in this area include; the African Emerald Cuckoo, the African Green Pigeon, Pink Backed Pelican, African Broadbill, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Ross’s Turaco, the Forest Flycatcher, and the White napped pigeon among others. During a bird watching expedition in the forest, visitors have higher chances of seeing other wildlife animals like L’Hoest monkeys, Chimpanzees, Baboons, Vervet monkeys, Bush babies, and Potto among others.
Birding in the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park:
Ishasha is one of the famous destinations located in southern part of the park known for the tree climbing lions which can be viewed during the game drive lazily lying up in the acacia, fig trees. Ishasha sector is also a birding area where birds can be viewed in the open savannah grassland, woodland and swamps. Bird species that can be spotted include Senegal plover, Ross’s Turaco, striped kingfisher, greater honey guide, white browned robin chat, green woodpecker, lappet faced vulture, African crake, helmeted guinea fowl, broad billed roller, white headed barbet, hooded vulture, grey backed fiscal, double toothed barbet among others.
The Kasenyi plains in Queen Elizabeth national park offer visitors great birding spots. The Kasenyi plains are located in the north-eastern part of the national park. During birding expeditions in Kasenyi Plains, visitors are able to view bird species such as; Red throat spur fowls, Grey backed fiscal, the Black lured babbler, the Black headed Gonolek, the crowned lover, Brown Snake Eagle, African Wattled Eagle, and the White Tailed Lark among others.
Katwe salt lake:
Lake Katwe is a salt lake where natural or rock salt is extracted by the local people using traditional methods to the landing site where it is dried and later sold. The crater salt lake is located in the northern part of Queen Elizabeth national park near Mweya peninsular. Wildlife species inhabit around the lake including animals such as elephants, warthogs, hippos and bird species such as flamingos which are migratory birds, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, papyrus Gonolek, pink backed pelican, martial eagle, papyrus canary, African broadbill, yellow throated cuckoo among others.
The Kikorongo Lake in Queen Elizabeth national park is another area where you can carry out bird watching activities. Lake Kikorongo is a crater lake that is found in the eastern part of the national park. there are various bird species that can be found in this area, such as; the Papyrus Gonolek, Yellow Wagtail, Knob billed ducks, Sacred Ibis, the Greater Swamp warblers, and White winged warblers to mention but a few.
Birding at the Katunguru Bridge:
Birders in Queen Elizabeth National Park can carry out birding activities at the Katunguru Bridge, which situated at the Kazinga Channel. The bridge is used by tourists travelling Kasese to Rubirizi district. This bridge is a great location for viewing swamp birds like the white winged warbler, Papyrus Gonolek, Pink backed pelicans, and Malachite Kingfisher among others.
Best time for birding in Queen Elizabeth national park.
Birding in the Queen Elizabeth national park can be done anytime throughout the year. However the best time for birding activities in the park is during the dry season in the months of May to September. During this period there is less rainfall in the park therefore access roads and birding trails will be passable, there will also be abundant food for the birds therefore you will be able to view high numbers of birds species compared to the months of march to April when there is a lot of rainfall which makes birding difficult. However birding in the park can also be done during other months like May and June where you will be able to view colorful birds because those are the breeding and nestling months, November which is a rainy season though good for spotting migratory birds.
Requirements for birding in Queen Elizabeth national park.
When coming on a birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park you need to pack the right equipment’s such as
- Light hiking shoes, these should be comfortable and flexible during trekking in the forest or savannah vegetation
- Hat and sunglasses, these will protect you from the scotching sun since birding is normally best done in the dry season.
- Light clothes
- A pair of binoculars, these will help you to have a clear view of the bird species in a far distance.
- Camera and extra batteries, these will help you to capture pictures and also record moments on your birding safari.
- Drinking water, this will keep you hydrated during birding in the park
- Waterproof rain jacket, the rain jacket will protect you in case it rains in the park during birding
- Backpack, this will carry your essentials for a birding safari such as camera, drinking water, rain jacket among others.
How to get to Queen Elizabeth national park for birding safari
Queen Elizabeth national park is located in southwestern Uganda and visitors who want to visit for a birding safari can either use road or air transport means.
Air transport, there are domestic airlines which operate scheduled and chartered flights such as Aerolink from Entebbe international airport/ Kajjansi airfield to Mweya airstrip or Kasese airstrip which takes about 1 hour.
Road transport, Queen Elizabeth national park can be accessed by road transport means where you will drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Fort Portal and then the park headquarters taking about 6 to 7 hours’ drive.
Queen Elizabeth national park can also be accessed from Bwindi impenetrable national park where you will drive via Ishasha sector and then to the park headquarters or flying from Entebbe airport to Kihihi airstrip and then connecting to Queen Elizabeth national park by road which takes about 3 to 4 hour drive. This is the best option if you are combining gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi impenetrable national park with birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park.
In Conclusion; Birding safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park can be combined with other exciting activities such as; Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge or Kibale National Park, Game drive and Boat Cruise in Queen Elizabeth national park.
In case you are planning a Safari to Uganda, Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the places that you should not miss including in your travel itinerary.