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Bird Watching in Murchison Falls National Park-Birding in Uganda
Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park/Birding in Murchison Falls Park is one of the tremendous safari activities in Uganda.
This park is one of the best bird watching areas as it boasts over 556 species of birds in Uganda. Therefore, viewing birds in this scenic park is among the most interesting experiences for bird lovers on Uganda birding safaris.
Additionally, Murchison falls park holds a diversity of water-related birds, savannah birds, and woodland birds. Water-associated birds in Murchison Falls National Park are present along the Nile Albert Delta area.
Savannah birds are found mainly in the savannah grasslands in Buligi game area.
This park is one of the best places in Africa to find the prehistoric-looking Shoebill. And it’s spotted along the Albert Delta during the Albert Delta boat cruise especially during the dry season when the water levels are low.
Other birds spotted in this area include; the Saddle-billed Stork, Grey crowned Cranes, Papyrus Gonolek, African Open bill, African Spoonbill, Hamerkops etc.
Also, Murchison park is the finest park in the whole of East Africa for seeing the Red-Throated Bee-Eaters. They are seen in one colony on the Nyamusika cliff along the Victoria Nile during a boat cruise to the falls.
Below is a short list of the most sought after birds while bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park.
- Grey Crowned Cranes
- Red-throated Bee-eaters
- Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
- Saddle-billed Stork
- Great Blue Turaco
- Black and White casqued Hornbill
- Secretary bird
- African Fish Eagle
- Palm-nut Vulture
- King fishers like, Giant, Malachite, Pied, and Blue-breasted kingfishers
What Time Is Bird Watching Done In Murchison Falls National Park?
Uganda birding safaris in Murchison Falls National Park are done in the morning and the afternoon.
And each session takes around 2-4 hours of ultimate experience.
Specifically, Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park is at its peak during this time as the birds are more active. Birds be leaving their nests in the morning and come back in the evening.
This generally creates the best opportunities for watching birds in their natural habitat and for excellent photography.
How Is Bird Watching In Murchison Falls National Park Done?
Uganda birding tours in Murchison falls park are done during launch trips and nature walks. And, the cruise trips to the Albert Delta and to the bottom of the falls are the most effective.
There are so many water-associated birds that are ever at the shores of the river. Other birds come to refresh from the hotness of the park’s sun.
Furthermore, Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park is also done during game drives. Game drives give you clear opportunities for spotting both woodland and savannah birds. Mostly, these birds are on tree logs and in savannah grasslands in search of food.
For example, the secretary bird, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Open billed stork, woodpeckers, grey herons, and many more birds.
The best way of bird watching is through nature walks. And, Murchison Falls Park has 3 permitted trails for nature walks where you can enjoy birding from. That is;
- Budongo forest
- Rabongo Forest
- Hike to the top of the falls
Where Is Bird Watching Done In Murchison Falls National Park? -Birding Spots In Murchison Falls National Park
Generally, birding in Murchison park is done in specific bird watching areas for you to enjoy the full experience of the activity.
These areas bring out the gist of bird watching as they harbor most of the bird species.
These are the areas where birding is suitable in Murchison Falls National Park;
- Along the Albert Delta
- Budongo Forest
- Buligi Area
- Rabongo Forest
Bird Watching In Murchison Falls National Park Along The Albert Delta
Firstly, the Albert Delta area is the main spot for bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park Uganda. This area holds over 78 water bird species and many swamp-associated birds of Uganda.
It remarkably supports 3 globally endangered and 7 nationally threatened bird species. That’s the Shoebill, Grey-crowned cranes, and the Papyrus Gonolek.
It’s the best spot for seeing the rare Shoebill in Uganda. Birds are watched while on a boat that cruise that sets off from Paraa jetty and ends at Delta point.
Undoubtedly, the 20km stretch will leave you with satisfaction as you will have seen almost all of the birds in the area.
This boat cruise sets off early at 7 am. And, this gives you a higher chance of seeing birds trying to grab their breakfast from the waters of the River Nile.
Since the cruise is all about birding, it will take around 4-5 hours to return. However, the best time to see most birds is in the dry season when the water levels are low.
Some of the notable birds along the Albert Delta area
· Papyrus Gonolek
· White-Faced Whistling Duck
· Fulvous Whistling Duck
· Egyptian Goose
· Spur-Winged Goose
· Black Crake
· Grey Crowned Crane
· African Open-Billed Stork
· Saddle-Billed Stork
· Senegalensis Pink-Backed Pelican
· Black-Crowned Night Heron
· Striated Heron
· Squacco Heron
· Grey Heron
· Goliath Heron
· Purple Heron
· Great White Egret
· Intermediate Egret
· Little Egret
· Sacred Ibis
· Hadada Ibis
· Long-Tailed Cormorant
|· Great Cormorant|
· African Darter
· Black-Winged Stilt
· Common Ringed Plover
· Long-Toed Lapwing
· Spur-Winged Lapwing
· African Wattled Lapwing
· African Jacana
· Little Stint
· Great Snipe
· Common Sandpiper
· Collared Pratincole
· Rock Pratincole
· Grey-Headed Gull
· White-Winged Tern
· African Fish Eagle
· Pel’s Fishing-Owl
· Malachite Kingfisher
· Giant Kingfisher
· Pied Kingfisher
Bird Watching In Murchison Falls National Park In The Buligi Game Area
Buligi Game area is another paradise for bird watchers on birding safaris in Uganda Murchison Falls National Park. This area is an ideal spot for savannah and woodland birds.
Specifically, bird watching in the area is enjoyed during safari game drives. It’s a 2-in-1 as you get to see birds and wild animals at once, what an experience!
You can see some of the birds like Egrets and Oxpeckers on the backs of Elephants and Buffaloes.
Please note; To get a great experience in sighting birds in the Buligi game area, you should visit in the dry months.
Here Are Some Of The Notable Birds In The Buligi Game Area;
|· Secretary Bird|
· Abyssinian Ground Horn Bill
· Northern Carmine Bee-Eater
· Denham’s Bustard
· European Roller
· Abyssinian Roller
· Palm-Nut Vulture
· Martial Eagle
· Black-Breasted Snake Eagle
· Long Crested Eagle
· Lappet-Faced Vulture
· Long-Created Eagle
· Marabou Stork
· Black And White Casqued Hornbill
· Black Stork
· Cinnamon-Chested Bee-Eater
· White-Throated Bee-Eater
· Ruppell’s Starling
· Yellow-Billed Oxpeckers
|· Handsome Spur fowl|
· Helmeted Guinea Fowl
· Red-Chested Cuckoo
· African Emerald Cuckoo
· African Pied Wagtail
· Speckled Mouse bird
· Bare-Faced Go-Away-Bird
· Eastern Plantain-Eater
· Blue-Headed Coucal
· White-Browed Coucal
· Pin-Tailed Whydah
· Ring Necked Dove
· Double-Toothed Barbet
· White-Headed Barbet
· Red-Fronted Barbet
· Black-Crowned Tchagra
· Red-Headed Malimbe
Bird Watching In The Park In Budongo Forest
Budongo forest is another ideal spot for bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park. It has over 360 bird species and 60 of these are taken to be West or Central African birds.
In particular, both Budongo and Semuliki are the only forests in Uganda to have Guinea-Congo biome bird species.
Notably, the Yellow Footed Flycatcher and Puvel’s Illadopsis birds are only found in Budongo Forest not elsewhere in East Africa.
Most of the birds in the forest are forest-related and endemics while others are migratory birds.
Indeed, the forest is an excellent spot for birding during your Uganda birdwatching safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
Most birding trails in Budongo Forest are at the Kaniyo Pabidi eco-tourism site giving you sightings of many birds.
These trails make up a good distance of 115km stretching in the forest for excellent sightings.
Usually, bird watching in the forest is done in the morning and afternoon longing for about 3-4 hours.
Below Are The Notable Birds Found In Budongo Forest;
|· African Dwarf Kingfisher|
· Black-Eared Ground Thrush
· Blue-Breasted Kingfisher
· Brown Twinspot
· Cassin’s Hawk Eagle
· Cassin’s Spinetail
· Chestnut-Capped Flycatcher
· Chocolate-Backed Kingfisher
· Crested Guineafowl
· Crowned Eagle
· Grey-Headed Sunbird
|· Ituri Batis|
· Little Green Sunbird
· Olive-Breasted Greenbul
· Plain Greenbul
· Puvel’s Illadopsis
· Sabine’s Spinetail
· White-Spotted Flufftail
· White-Thighed Hornbill
· Yellow-Crested Woodpecker
· Yellow-Footed Flycatcher
Bird Watching In The Park In Rabongo Forest
Rabongo forest is 1 and a half hours away from Paraa. And this forest is rich in bird life with a good number of unexplored birds.
Nature in this beautiful forest attracts many bird species making it a haven for bird lovers during Uganda birding tours.
Rabongo forest has traversing trails that cross through to Wairingo River giving spectacular sightings of birds. The birds here are similar to those found in Budongo Forest.
In addition, birders and nature lovers can also enjoy short treks starting from Sambiya River Lodge or Mubako Junction. These are on the south bank.
They can as well walk along the north bank from Paraa, passing the Emmy River. In most cases these walks last from one and a half to two hours.
Fees- Cost For Bird Watching In Murchison Falls National Park
|Visitor category||Fees(per person)|
|Foreign non-resident||US$ 30|
|Foreign resident||US$ 25|
|East African citizen||UGX 20,000|
Best Time Of The Year -Best Season For Bird Watching In Murchison Falls Park
Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park is good all year round. However, best time is from February to April and from June to September.
Food for birds is abundant from June to September is the main fruiting season. Also, during this time, it’s when birds are in their breeding plumage.
However, migratory birds are in the park from November to April.
The wet season is from March to May and from August and November. In most cases, rainfall is expected in these months which may cause the walking trails slippery and impassable.
Unfortunately, this limits you from bird watching while on your Uganda birding safaris in Murchison Falls National Park.
What To Wear
There is specific wear you need to have if you are to enjoy birding in Uganda in the park. However, choosing to wear depends on the day’s weather if it’s cold or hot.
This is what you can wear when going bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park.
- Long-sleeved shirts and trousers
- Comfortable hiking shoes
- A hat
Long-sleeved shirts and trousers: This outfit protects you from dangerous insects like bees, mosquitoes, tsetse flies, and more from biting you.
Clothes should be of neutral colors so that they blend in easily with the environment. Brown and Khaki colors are highly recommended. Avoid bright colors like white as birds associate it with danger.
Camouflaging clothes is prohibited as they are only for the country’s military defense force.
Comfortable hiking shoes: Shoes keep your feet safe from piercing and scratching fallen tree branches. They as well keep you stable on wet slippery trails.
Shoes should be light, waterproof, and ankle covering to protect them from injuries on rocky and woodland trails.
A hat or cap: A hat or cap provides full coverage to your head protecting you from the hot sun of Murchison Falls National Park.
Sunglasses: Since you will be looking for birds during daytime and you are required to look up in the air, it is advised to wear sunglasses.
The polarized glasses will reduce the glare of the sun that is coming straight to your eyes. This protects your eyes and gives you clear views.
What To Carry
Bird watching does not require a lot of items to carry since you may end up moving long distances. Always walk light so that you enjoy the experience to its maximum.
Here are some of the crucial items you need to carry when going bird watching in Murchison falls park.
- A pair of Binoculars
- A field guide (bird guidebook)
- Notebook and pen
- Water bottle
- Backpack or a waist bag
- Insect repellent
- Poncho or rain jacket
A pair of binoculars: Binoculars are the primary and most important item you should have when going bird watching.
Binoculars zoom in on birds so that you see them clearly for you to identify them since you see all the features.
When bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park, there are binoculars recommended for the amazing activity.
- Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 Nature Binocular
- Celestron Nature DX 8X42 Birding Binocular
- ZEISS Conquest HD 8X42 Binoculars
- Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars
- The ZEISS 8X25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular.
A field guide (bird guide book): These always have comprehensive information about birds in a specific area. When you see a bird and you have identified it, you can always refer to your field guide for clarity.
Notebook and pen: These two items are very helpful, this is where you write your observations of birds.
It helps keep notes that you can use for comparing the description of the different bird species.
Camera: A camera will help you capture those unforgettable birding memories that you can always look at and remind yourself of.
Below we have listed the recommended cameras when birding in Uganda Murchison Falls National Park.
- Canon Powershot SX70 HS
- Nikon Coolpix P1000
- Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV
However, always mind carrying extra lens for your camera.
Water bottle: Since you are walking on trails looking for different birds, it’s better to carry a water bottle to keep you hydrated. You may embark on long trails taking much more time than expected.
However, the water bottle should be reusable to avoid littering the park as it destroys nature.
Backpack or Waist bag: A simple lightweight backpack will help you carry other items. This helps you move freely as your hands are not full.
A backpack or waist bag can carry items like a field guidebook, notebook, pen, insect repellent, and sunscreen.
Insect Repellent: Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park is done in areas that are abundant with insects, especially mosquitoes.
It is better to carry an insect repellent to spray on your body to chase away insects that may infect you with sickness.
Sunscreen: Murchison Falls National Park is near the equator making it a hot area. Sunscreen will protect your body from direct sunlight preventing skin damage.
Poncho or rain jacket: African weather is unpredictable as it changes at any given time. Since you will be moving quite a distance, a poncho is highly recommended to keep you dry when it rains.
Precautions To Follow When Going For Bird Watching In Murchison Falls Park
Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park is generally a safe activity and enjoyable. However, to enjoy it more, there are precautions you need to know about.
These expert tips will guide you when doing the activity.
- First off, always carry a pair of binoculars for clear observation of birds.
- And, when searching for birds in the park, always be aware of other animals. Your mind may be focusing on birds only yet the area is also a habitat for wild animals.
- Always be quiet when bird watching as birds don’t like noise. In case they hear any slight noise, they may rush and fly away.
- Also, always keep a listening ear as some birds are noticed by their sound which may not be loud.
- Do not throw stones at birds because you want them to change position to your liking. This action can injure birds.
- Always follow and stay on birding trails so that you don’t get lost in the wild.
- When going bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park, always choose the morning hours or evenings. These are more rewarding as birds are active. Usually, they can be leaving their habitats in the morning and come back in the evenings.
- When on the trails, do not rush as you may miss spotting most of the birds.
- Avoid doing the activity in big groups as you may not get clear photography due to obstruction from other people.
- Always carry water with you to stay hydrated at all times.
- When going for long birding hours, pack what to eat during the activity. This can be a sandwich of any kind.
Why do Bird watching in Murchison Falls National Park?
Murchison Falls National Park is one of the best bird watching areas in Uganda, holding a diversity of phenomenal birds of Uganda.
This iconic park holds the big five birds. Namely,
- Black and White casqued Hornbill
- Long Crested Eagle
- Grey Crowned Cranes
- Great Blue Turaco
All the birds are seen in one place and bird watchers can always enjoy other safari activities in the park. These actives include, safari game drives, Chimpanzee trekking, Nature walks, boat cruises and cultural encountering.
Bird watching is one of the breathtaking activities that shouldn’t be missed while on your Murchison falls safari.
Birding connects you to nature and you get to see species that are rarely seen elsewhere globally.
Conclusively, birding in Murchison park takes you to the Albert Delta where the Shoebill is a resident and other swamp-related birds.
Uganda birding safaris in Murchison falls park can be combined with wildlife safaris making you an ideal safari that is memorable.
This activity is also enjoyed in Semuliki National Park, Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth park and Kidepo National Park.
Let us help you arrange your Uganda birding safari in Murchison Falls National park which is full of excitement. Kindly contact us via our email.