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BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK AND WORLD HERITAGE SITE 
UGANDA

Kabale, Kisoro and Rukungiri (SW)

Lat:01o04´50´´S/29o39´41´´E ha mountains 1,160-2,607msl 
National Park and World Heritage Site

Best Time for visit (September-October 2004)

 

Birding Site Guide

Perhaps the most famous national park in Uganda, this is not because of its feathered inhabitants however but more to do with some huge hairy ones, the Mountain Gorillas. Ansorge’s Greenbul is a recently found rarity here.

 
From the Buhoma entrance


Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in the SW near the town of Kabale, on the edge of the western Rift Valley and lies on the Zaire border adjacent to the Parc National des Virungas. It is one of the largest (331 sq. km) natural forests in East Africa and contains both montane and lowland forest. Bwindi can be reached from Queen Elizabeth NP in the north (2-3 hours), from Kabale to the south (1-2 hours), or from Kampala via Mbarara (6-8 hours). The roads meet at Butogota, 17km from the Buhoma entrance gate. 4x4 recommended during the rains.

 
It supports a large number of plants and animals endemic to the region, but most notably 300 Mountain Gorillas, half of the world's population. These are divided into a dozen groups, making up the largest surviving population. The other half is split between Zaire and Rwanda, between whose forests they used to roam freely but now they are separated by forest fragmentation caused by settlement encroachment and farming.


Two up-market tented camps, a lodge, community-run budget rooms and camping are available near the Buhoma entrance gate.


Birding is good anywhere in the park. The dirt road and track can be followed a long way in, though you will be required to have an armed park guard with you for your safety (not from the wildlife) if you go far.

 
Just outside the park a couple of km is a track through grass fields to a marsh. This is a good site for Red-chested Flufftail, and you will require a tape-recorder and an open patch for the bird to run across in order to see it. 

Species Notes

346 species of birds (23 Albertine Rift endemics), Among the 345+ bird species are 23 sought-after Albertine Rift endemics and 14 species found nowhere else in Uganda. Specialities include Black-billed Turaco, White-collared Oliveback, Black Bee-eater, Mackinnon's Shrike, Brown-eared Woodpecker, White-breasted Negrofinch and Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush. Birders seek the Strange Weaver, Stripe-breasted Tit, Regal and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Chestnut-throated and Montane Masked Apalis', Ruwenzori Batis, Cassin's Grey Flycatcher and Blue-throated Roller in the Ruhija area.

 
Species seen on our visit.

 
Great Sparrowhawk, Augur Buzzard, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Black-billed Turaco, Dusky Long-tailed-and African Emerald Cuckoo, Scarce Swift, Bar-tailed Trogon, Black- and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Grey-throated- and Yellow-spotted Barbets, Cassin's Honeyguide, Tullberg's- and Elliot's Woodpeckers, African Broadbill, Yellow-whiskered-, Slender-billed- and Shelley's Greenbuls, Yellow-streaked Bulbul, Red-tailed Greenbul, Brown Babbler, Mountain Illadopsis, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, White-tailed Ant Thrush, Chapin's- and Yellow-footed Flycatchers, Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher, Uganda Wood-Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Green Hylia, Banded Prinia, Buff-throated- and Grey Apalis, Sooty-, African Blue-, White-bellied Crested- and African Paradise Flycatchers, Black-and-white Shrike-Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Many-coloured- and Luhder's Bush Shrikes, Sooty Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Petit's Cuckoo-shrike, Stuhlmann's- and Slender-billed Starlings, Grey-headed-, Collared-, Olive-bellied- and Mariqua Sunbirds, Black-necked-, Black-billed- and Brown-capped Weavers, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Black-crowned Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Streaky Seedeater, Black-throated Canary and Oriole Finch.

 
Mammals
L’Hoest’s Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Mountain Gorilla (15), Bohm’s Squirrel and Ruwenzori Sun Squirrel.

 
Albertine Rift Endemics List

Not all Albertine Rift Endemics species occur in Uganda. Albertine Rift Endemics species in square brackets were not recognised by Clements. 

 

A few km before the Buhoma entrance there is a last small village along the road side and as this is passed heading towards the park’s entrance there is some pasture with marsh on the left-hand side. You may have to pay the owner a small fee to enter his field, when in the field head to the marsh and here try for Red-chested Flufftail, using a voice recording.

 

BWINDI The Neck

When heading for the Ruhizha entrance to the park, it is possible to bird the area known as The Neck on the way up. Long-crested Eagle, Dusky Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater, Black Bee-eater, Crowned Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Mountain Wagtail, Mackinnon's Shrike, Variable Sunbird, Yellow Bishop, Dusky Twinspot and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. 

 

BWINDI (RUHIZHA)

Common-, Mountain- and Augur Buzzards, Steppe- and Long-crested Eagles, Cassin's Hawk-Eagle, Red-necked Falcon, Great Blue- and Black-billed Turacos, Barred Long-tailed- and Klaas's Cuckoos, Montane Nightjar, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Crowned- and Black-and-white-casqued Hornbills, Grey-throated Barbet, Western Green- and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Lesser- and Willcocks' Honeyguides, Angola Swallow, Western Mountain Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Bulbul, African Hill Babbler, White-starred Robin, Archer's Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Common Stonechat, Olive Thrush, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Grauer's Rush-and Mountain Yellow Warblers, Chubb's Cisticola, Black-faced-, Chestnut-throated-, Black-throated- and Ruwenzori Apalis’s, Grauer's Warbler, White-browed Crombec, African Yellow White-eye, Stripe-breasted Tit, White-tailed Blue- and African Paradise Flycatchers, Ruwenzori- and Chin-spot Batis’s, Doherty's- and Lagden's Bush-Shrikes, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Northern Puffback, Black- and Grey Cuckoo-shrikes, Black-tailed- and Western Black-headed Orioles, White-necked Raven, Stuhlmann's- and Sharpe's Starlings, Blue-headed-, Green-headed-, Northern Double-collared-, Regal-, Purple-breasted- and Bronze Sunbirds, Baglafecht-, Strange- and Brown-capped Weavers, Dusky Crimsonwing, Red-headed Bluebill, Yellow-bellied- and Black-headed Waxbills, Streaky- and Thick-billed Seedeaters.

 

Mammals 
White-eared Squirrel, Ruwenzori Squirrel, Bohm’s Squirrel, L’Hoest’s Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Ruwenzori Red Duiker and Black-faced Duiker.

 

Other Fauna

120 species of mammals (including 11 primates).

Gorilla permits are from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, Kampala, it is best to book at least a year in advance especially if you are a large party. The rugged terrain makes hiking in search of the gorillas streneous work. There are 3 habituated groups, Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura. A maximum of 6 visitors per group per day are allowed. 

You will be told the evening before, if you do not know already, which groups are available to view, and in the morning the guides will await news from the trackers before setting out. The length of the uphill trek can vary between 1-3km to the montane zone where the gorillas are, and the younger more slender people of the day will be allocated to the more physically demanding groups to reach.

Our posse of 3 lightly clad males (a 4th group member being unable to come due to his fractured legs) though not particularly young and deceptively fitter looking than we were, were none-the-less somehow perceived to have the edge in physical fitness over the plump old dears and their sunburnt bald-headed male companions with their cool-boxes full of delicious snacks and ice-cold refreshing drinks, and kitted out with thousands of US$ of camera equipment. Perhaps for this reason (or maybe the guides just did not want to carry all that gear so far) we were allocated the 3km vertical slog. Had the silverback taken a particular dislike to the annoying wheezing of the white men and charged, I doubt I would have had the energy to flee.

Your first inkling the gorillas are getting close will probably be a loud series of volatile, gaseous farts and a large cloud of flies (although with my colleagues and me these usually tell-tale signs were all but made redundant) followed by snapping vegetation. Stay still and quiet and enjoy your magic half hour! 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. There are 202 species of butterflies.

 

EXCELLENT INFO ON UGANDAN NP 
Ugandan Wildlife Authority

FOR MORE INFO ON NATIONAL PARKS

Safari Bookings
Rainbow Tours

 
Author: BSG

 

www.birdingsiteguide.com