Back to Budongo …

My bags are on the floor, packed and ready to go.

There are some Swamp Wallabies down by the creek. When I wake up in a couple of days time it may well be a Chimpanzee that will be walking past my window. Uganda here I come.

Part of the time will be at the Budongo Research Station and will be spent banding little birds in the rain forest.

I am looking forward to catching up with old friends and to sharing the experience with you. Broadband access will be intermittent so bear with me.

You can read about the last trip by winding the blog back to June and July 2017.

A Day in the Life of a Chimp …

… could be a day in your life that you will never forget.

 

Earthwatch have written to me …

If you have any friends, family, or colleagues who you think might benefit from the once-in-a-lifetime experience of living a day in the life of a chimpanzee, please let them know that we have a team in need of more volunteers running from October 7-18, 2017, as well as 6 teams scheduled throughout 2018 that need a good head start on their recruitment …

Apply now <zzimmerman@earthwatch.org>. Tell them Rob sent you.

You can be in Budongo soon. If you need a refresher on the delights that await you there skip back in this blog to July 10th. The link again … Investigating-Threats-to-Chimps-in-Uganda

Do it.

Farewell Uganda …

Prossy, our birding guide for the last couple of days dropped us back at the Boma.

You can’t beat local knowledge. Having a guide to help us find birds and to identify them makes a huge difference to the rate at which the list grows. Local ears are even more important than local eyes.

It brought an end to our stay in Uganda, a stay that we had thoroughly enjoyed.

There was a photo close by that we just had to take …

The burning question was … when the guy got the modelling gig, did anyone tell him what his photo would be used for? Or did they just say let your eyes light up like you’ve just received a nice surprise.

And then to the airport for a late night flight to Kigali, Rwanda, followed by a very late night drive to the Volcanoes National Park. In the next couple of posts I will share with you some photos of Golden Monkeys and Mountain Gorillas.

But whilst the blog is between countries let me editorialise for a moment. The other day, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe someone bagged themselves a lion. The lion was Xanda, he was the son of Cecil who was shot in similar circumstances two years ago. Like Cecil he was wearing a research collar and was part of a long term study.

I have photographed lions in South Africa, Botswana, very recently in Uganda and the Asian branch of the family in India. They are easily approached in a vehicle, especially if they have wandered from a national park. It is also a simple matter to conceal yourself near a kill and await their return.

I have hiked in Hwange and encountered lions on foot. It was a surprise to both parties, four humans, five lions. The lions scattered and fled.

There is no courage or skill required to kill a lion. It is the act of a coward who wishes to seem something bigger. It is beyond my understanding that someone can approach a magnificent, living and trusting animal and with a modern rifle convert it to a corpse. There is no need for it, no sense in it. It is sick.

I understand that the head will be cured and sent home to the hunter to be mounted on the wall. I do hope they leave the collar on.

way too easy – press the shutter not the trigger

 

Mabamba …

You sometimes hear the expression “And the food was to die for”. I don’t think that means it was poisonous, or so fatty as to instantly clog your arteries. I think the suggestion is that having eaten such delicious food life is complete, nothing will ever match the experience again, you may as well die now. Birdwatching is evidently nothing like eating.

I had seen the Shoebill, I could never tick it again, but life goes on. There are other pebbles on the beach, fish in the sea, birds in the swamp. The Papyrus Gonolek would be nice.

It’s rare, has limited distribution, skulks in the papyrus and is a lot smaller than a Shoebill. And considerably prettier.

You can’t beat local knowledge, our guide for our couple of days in the Entebbe region was Nanyombi Proscovia. It would not be easy but she would do her best, she said, to find us the Gonolek.

Prossy, the bird guide.

So, Mabamba for the second morning, back into our boat and back into the swamp along with the local people going about their daily lives.

We nosed along, sometimes through narrow water ways, sometimes across more open expanses, mostly driven by outboard motor but where the vegetation was particularly dense the boatman resorted to pushing us along with a pole. It was surprising how close some of the birds would let us get.

African Jacana
Malachite Kingfisher
Purple Heron
Blue-breasted Bee-eater

Where’s its blue breast? It’s an immature bird, give it time and it will develop a neat blue collar.

The Intermediate Egret has a huge range. You can even find them in Australia but it’s not often we see them in their breeding finery.

Intermediate Egret

What’s this flying past? Oh, I’ve seen them before …

What we need is …

Papyrus Gonolek

Prossy was an excellent bird guide. If you need a first class guide in Uganda you can email her at prossybirder@gmail.com or visit her Facebook page.

Let them eat fish …

A recent post, Game Drive, has been a big winner. With the tags travel and Africa it has attracted a lot of attention. Some posts are like that. This post is about a trip to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, it’s a great destination, it gives you a chance to get at the shore of Lake Victoria, three species of monkey are well represented and there is also a fourth, it’s a great place to find birds in a big city but it really doesn’t lend itself to a sexy title.

And some of its denizens are certainly not sexy …

Marabou Stork

Others are way more attractive …

Black-headed Heron
Great Blue Turaco
Striped Ground Squirrel

The squirrel stays close to its hole in a termite mound.

The three regular monkey species are Blue Monkey, Vervet Monkey and Colobus. There is a solitary Red-tailed Monkey as well, an escapee from the nearby zoo. The Vervets are adorable …

Vervet Monkey
Vervet Monkey

Just ask them.

What on earth does all this have to do with fish? Miracles and fish have a close relationship. It’s a miracle this Pied Kingfisher could catch and then fly with this fish. If you click on the first photo you can step through the process of swallowing it. First turn it around so that it’s head points down your throat …