There is perhaps no bird more emblematic of Africa than the African Fish Eagle. It ranges over the whole continent south of the Sahara, and is common wherever there is enough water for fish. I have seen and photographed it in Greater Kruger National Park along the Olifants River in South Africa, on snags in the rift valley lakes in Kenya, in the marshes along the shores of Lake Victoria and on the banks of the Nile River and Kazinga Channel in Uganda. It is not threatened, endangered, or even rare, but it is worth a look at every encounter. And it’s call is familiar from hundreds of African film soundtracks. These shots are from our small tour boat on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Take a look at the talons on this bird…fish hooks indeed! Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Besides Hippopotamuses, a boat also provides one of the best opportunities to get close to Kingfishers. These three species were along the Kazinga Channel between Lake George and Lake Edmond in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda…all taken from our small tour boat. We have the Malachite Kingfisher, which we saw several times on our trip, the Grey-headed Kingfisher which we saw here and, surprisingly, deep in the dry brush of Murchinson Falls National Park, and the Pied Kingfisher, which we saw just about wherever there was water. Sony Rx10iv at 600-1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. #Epic_Uganda_Vacations.
As I have said before, the only safe way to get close to a Hippopotamus is in a boat…and the most dramatic views are from a small boat, where you are close to the waterline. On our boat tour of the Kasinga Channel between Lake George and Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, we had a smallish launch, maybe 14 foot, and were close to the waterline indeed, and eye to eye with the Hippos we encountered. The Hippos in the channel are used to people in boats, some smaller even than ours, and, though certainly aware of us, went about their business pretty much undisturbed. This shot is at 600mm equivalent. Sony Rx10iv in Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We got to Irungu Forest Lodge, where we planned to have our first lunch in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda before the noon cook fires were even lit…so we had a good 90 minutes to explore the little thicket between the cabins and around the water tank. Irungu is only a few moments from the boat ramp where we would take our afternoon tour on the Kasinga Channel, which connects Lake George and Lake Edward. It turned out to be a rewarding 90 minutes as the small area was rich in birds. This is the Brown-throated Wattle-eye. It is actually 2 shots of the same female and one shot of an immature. The male would have a white throat with a black chest band. Birds of East Africa says it is a common bird across its range, but Irungu is the only place we saw one on our #Epic_Uganda_Vacations Bird and Wildlife Tour. Certainly a strikingly unique bird. Sony Rx10iv at 600 to 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We stopped beside one of the Crater Lakes on the way out of the Kibale National Park area of Uganda for the view, and spotted this pair of Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eaters in the trees down the road. We walked a bit closer and I was able to get this shot at 1200mm equivalent on my Sony Rx10iv. This is the Bee-eater I had seen, but not photographed, at Murchinson Falls National Park a few days earlier, so I was happy to get it. We saw several others in Bwindi later in the trip, but this was my first good look and photograph. The Cinnamon-breasted looks, at first glance, almost identical to the Little Bee-eater…but there are differences in the tail and cheek patch, and a general difference in overall body proportions that give the slightly larger Cinnamon away. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Of course we saw weavers everywhere we went in Uganda. They are among the most common birds anywhere in East Africa, and it sometimes seems their nests hang in at least half of the trees and bushes. There are close to 40 species of weavers, social-weavers, buffalo-weavers, forest-weavers, etc. listed in Birds of East Africa. We encountered these three species in close proximity around the holding ponds on the Bigodi Swamp Walk, in Bigodi Village near Kibale National Park. I think what I have here is 1) Village or Black-headed Weaver, 2 and 3) Yellow-backed Weaver (also confusingly sometimes called Black-headed), and Vieillot’s Black Weaver. All 4 photos were taken standing in the same spot. Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
Another good bird from our Bigodi Swamp Walk in Bigodi Village near Kibale National Park, Uganda…the Olive-bellied Sunbird, spotted at the edge of bean field on our way back to the center. The Bogodi Swamp Walk is one of two excursions offered by the Bogodi Ecotourism Center, which is, as I mentioned yesterday in another Facebook post, a community initiated, community funded, and community run effort to develop tourism in the village, with a staff of naturalists and cultural interpreters and extensive connections among the local people. (And, while you are parked at their somewhat rustic office, you can have your safari van professionally washed and cleaned inside and out!) The guide who took us exploring on the extensive network of trails was an excellent birder. This is all very low-keyed…a ramble through forest edges and across crop fields, and a visit to some holding ponds where the swamp probably was, but the staff is knowledgeable and the birds are great! And you have to admire the foresight and courage in the village that developed and maintains the project. #Epic_Uganda_Vacations.
I probably took 500 shots of the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park in Uganda when we visited, and, using Anti-motion Blur mode for the low light, I was limited to single exposures, so there were no motor drive duplicates in there. It was such a rewarding experience to be there, close to the Chimps in the wild, seeing them interact naturally…or as naturally as is possible with Chimps that are used to human observation. They were obviously fully aware of their audience, even if they only gave us the occasional glance as they went about their chimpanzee business. I have to wonder what they think of the cell phone brandishing, noisy groups in their unnaturally bright colors who come to dance around them twice a day. I am sure they would love to get their hands on one of those phones…just to see what all the fuss is about. 🙂 This young chimp seems to have us all pretty well sized up. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Anti-motion Blur mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Our group of Chimpanzees at Kibale National Park in Uganda spent most of their time while we visited grooming themselves and each other. This apparently young Chimp was more solitary, for whatever reason. A portrait at 150mm equivalent. Anti-motion Blur mode. (Equivalent ISO 2500.) Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. #Epic_Uganda_Vacations
It is pretty much at 2 day trip, or at least a day and half, from Murchinson National Park to Fort Portal and Kibale National Park. On arriving in Ft Portal, after lunch, we visited Amabere Ga’nyinamwiru Caves and Crater Lakes. The Caves and the Lakes are, honestly, nothing much by our jaded North American standards…not a patch on Mammoth or Carlsbad, or even Howe in New York State or the live caves in Arizona. You can’t actually go into the caves, though we did see some interesting stalagmites and stalactites from the entrance behind an attractive waterfall, and I opted out of the hike up the hill to see the Crater Lake, as we would be passing some more of those on our way to Kibale the next day in the van. However, the birding around the edges and in the hedgerows between the open “campground” fields near the parking area proved to be very satisfying. I had my first encounters with a whole group of small garden and field birds…including the Bronze Sunbird here. Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.