On 28th May 2016 the Uganda Bird Guides Club members (me inclusive) set out for the weekly day birding trip, and we went to Mpanga Forest Reserve which is located 36 kilometers southwest of Kampala. This was the second time this year Mpanga Forest was hosting us and I was very eager for this trip as I had missed out on the previous one. This was also my first forest birding outing of the year and was looking to add to my list of forest species which is not so impressive. We set off from Kampala at about 7am and made it to Mpanga in only one hour. The weather was not the best though! It was cloudy and humid so bird activity was likely to be very low in the forest.
After the briefing of the day’s group of about 18 birders and enthusiasts by Prossy Nanyombi who is the base guide at Mpanga forest and is also a senior member of the Uganda bird guides club and the chairperson of the Uganda Women’s Birders, we set about to look for birds. An African Emerald Cuckoo (male) had been calling, “hello baby”, since we arrived.
It was perched on a leafless brunch in the top one of the highest rising trees near the edge of the forest. The views were very clear and the bird stayed long enough for all the group members to see its beautiful green and gold colors! We birded in the compound of the visitors’ center, observing the forest edge and spotted a number of birds including: Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Pied Wagtail, Vielloit’s Black Weaver, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Little Greenbul, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird (heard), Green-throated, Little Green, Copper and Collared Sunbird, Yellow-mantled Weaver, White-breasted and Grey-headed Nigrofinch. A single Weyns’s Weaver showed itself briefly when it flew into forest. Didn’t get clear views! We also observed Purple Starlings flying from the forest. Looking to have exhausted visitors’ area we decided to enter the forest taking the wide trail which runs throughout the forest. As expected, because of the cloudy weather conditions, inside the forest was humid and cool and thus the birds were not out for now. We were only treated to different groups of the Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill calling noisily from different parts of the forest. The Blue-throated Roller displayed briefly from deeper in the canopy.
I have been to Mpanga Forest a number of times before but this time proved to be the least productive ever! We enjoyed observing other wildlife such the different tree species, butterflies, red-tailed monkeys, and a huge green millipede!!
before we opted to move out of and try the open cultivated areas near the forest and managed to spot quite a number of species including: Great Blue Turaco, African Pied Horbill (arriving into the Mpanga forest), Olive-bellied and Red-chested Sunbird, Plain-backed Pipit, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Common Bulbul, Crowned hornbill, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Western Citril, Bronze Mannikin, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Diederik Cuckoo, Pygmy Kingfisher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Lizard Buzzard, African Blue Flycatcher, African Thrush, Angola Swallow.
At about 10.30am we saw a downpour approaching and so abandoned the birding and rushed to the visitor’s center and immediately we got there it started raining heavily, cutting short our birding excursion. Out of the 4 hours of birding we had had hoped for we did only 2 hour. Be we still managed to record about 50 bird species from Mpanga Forest and the cultivations.
We drove back to Kampala where found it hot, dry and dusty, without any sign of rain! The dry season was about to start in June when it’s most favorable to bird in Mpanga Forest, I think we shall return soon!
Would you like to do a day birding tour to Mpanga Forest? you can contact with organizing it and can even book our 1 day birding tour to Mabamba swamp and Mpanga forest