… WHEN CHARLOTTE ASKS SEARCHING QUESTIONS ABOUT BIRDING IN UGANDA
(Posted 11th September 2020)
In the twelfth of a series, Charlotte Beauvoisin shares some of her #LockdownDiaries from Kibale Forest in Western Uganda. Scroll down to read her earlier stories.
How low can you go? Birding in Uganda’s Rift Valley
This week we have left the lush green surrounds of Kibale Forest to venture to the dramatically different habitat of the Rift Valley. Just an hour north of Fort Portal we descend to the lowest point in Uganda.
If you’ve been following the #LockdownDiaries series, you will recall story no. 8 about Counting birds on Lake Saka near Fort Portal in western Uganda.
Twice a year Sunbird Hill carries out bird population monitoring on behalf of NatureUganda. The Kibale Conservation Area comprises four sites in Kibale National Park, Katonga Wildlife Reserve, Lake Saka / Lake Bikere and Toro Botanical Gardens in Fort Portal. Uganda Wildlife Authority provide armed guides and access to the protected areas. This week I am writing to you from Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Tomorrow we take the bird count to Semliki National Park, a forested area towards Bundibugyo and the border with the DRC.
Gazetted in 1932, Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve lies at the southern edge of Lake Albert and is Uganda’s first protected area. Lake Albert is 621 metres above sea level and frequently hot. Its proximity to Central Africa’s Ituri Forest means there is a small population of both forest and savannah elephants.
Semliki Safari Lodge is an enviable base for our bird monitoring team. We are here to count birds and never fail to get excited about the dinosaur-like Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, five species of vulture and plethora of kingfisher species. We are all rewarded with ‘lifers’ – birds that we see or hear for the first time.
There is non-stop chat as we compare bird lists, mull over sightings and walk the transects. We are thrilled that on this expedition we get the chance to engage with Semliki Safari Lodge managers and guides who display a passion for nature in all its forms. It’s great meeting like-minded souls who get as excited as we do at the image of a side-striped jackal caught in a camera trap! We swap notes about bird calls and set up nets (baited with rotting fruit) to catch butterflies. Within 24 hours of ‘leisurely butterflying’ we have identified 65 species. We learn about the lodge’s considerable anti-poaching and wildlife conservation activities undertaken with Uganda Wildlife Authority in Semliki Wildlife Reserve. It’s refreshing to reconnect.
I’ll be sharing my review of Semliki Safari Lodge – along with more bird and butterfly photos from Semliki – over the coming weeks.
Lockdown forced me to give up the semi-nomadic lifestyle of a travel blogger and this week is only the second trip away from home in five months. Even so, I haven’t left Kibale Conservation Area since March and I predict many more tales from the edge of Kibale Forest edge over the coming months.
If you enjoyed this story, look out for the next one in this series, exclusively here on www.ATCNews.org, written by Charlotte Beauvoisin.
The first stories in this series are: