Uganda: Entebbe Botanical Gardens

I was invited by Laura Kammermeier of Nature Travel Network and the Uganda Tourist Board to a FAM tour of Uganda’s major birding and primate destinations. Since I thoroughly enjoy East Africa it was an easy decision to make!

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Making the most of our mid-afternoon arrival, Ethan Kistler, Nate Swick and I spent a couple of hours strolling around the 100 acre Entebbe Botanical Gardens, adjacent to our hotel.

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The botanical gardens as one expects is filled with indigenous plants along with exotics from around the world, but the feeling is more of an open park, with numerous people enjoying various sunday afternoon activities. It is set on the north shore of Lake Victoria and walking the grounds is certainly a wonderful introduction to birding the “Pearl of Africa.”

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Right off the bat we got to see Marabou Stork, Hadada Ibis, Hammerkop, Crowned Hornbills and three highly vocal and conspicious passerines, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Eastern Plantain-eater (above) and Great Blue Turaco, all feeding in various fruiting trees. The most numerous bird in the gardens was Dark-capped Bulbul with many pairs seeing flying amongst the trees and feeding. We would also have great views of Spectacled Mousebird, African Thrush and a number of small passerines, namely Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, African Yellow White-eyes, Grey-backed Camaroptera and Bronzed Mannikins.

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A nice surprise was seeing a pair of African Grey Parrots as they flew into the canopy.  Black-headed Gonolek, Snow-capped Robin-Chat, African Pygmy KIngfisher and Olive-bellied Sunbird (above) all showed well in a cluster of shrubbery. Yellow-billed Kites, Hooded Vultures, Palm Nut Vulture and Grey Kestrels were seen near the entrance and we also had a Eurasian Hobby and a perched African Hobby to go along with a calling Lizard Buzzard. That is alot of raptors!

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Weavers breed in bushes along the shoreline, including Viellot’s Black, Northern Brown-throated, Golden-backed, Slender-billed, Orange (which here is likely to be the only place that we will see it on the trip), and Village, which were actively courting females as they flapped their wings while hanging from the entrance of the nest. Dozens of Pied Kingfishers were fishing from various perches in the bare shrubs that protruded out of the water, occasionally joined by a handful of White-fronted Bee-eaters. A Swamp Flycatcher (above) perched low along the waters edge, while Red-chested Sunbirds flittered about flowering shrubs, and a Common and Wood Sandpiper walked the shoreline.

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We were delighted with the 75 species we saw in the two hours, along with other wildlife we encountered – Vervet Monkeys patrolling the shorter grasses, Dark Blue Pansies which are very common butterflies, and a Red-headed Agama lizard.

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