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Birding Experience in Murchison Falls National Park

Birding Experience in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is the oldest and largest protected area in Uganda at over 3,893km2 and its comprised of Murchison Falls National Park, Bungungu Wildlife Reserve at 501km2, Karuma Wildlife Reserve at 678km2 and Budongo Forest Reserve at 592km2 managed by both Uganda Wildlife Authority and National Forestry Authority as Murchison Falls Conservation Area. Murchison Falls National Park is found in the north-western part of Uganda, in the Albertine Rift valley area which is in Masindi. Between the years 1907-1912, the inhabitants were evacuated due to sleeping sickness caused by the tsetse flies outside of the national park area. This paved way for the establishment of the Bunyoro Game Reserve in 1910 and in 1928 boundaries were extended to Gulu district north of the river which resulted into the Bunyoro-Gulu Game Reserve.

Birding in Murchison Falls National Park is an absolute treat for nature enthusiasts and ornithologists alike. This park, located in Uganda, is renowned for its diverse avian population, boasting over 450 species of birds making it a birder’s haven. The diverse species available make for a beautiful opportunity making it an exciting one for bird watchers.

Murchison falls is famous for birds like the red-throated bee-eaters commonly seen in one colony on the Nyamusika cliff along the Victoria Nile, rare shoebill, grey crowned crane, Abyssinian ground hornbill, saddle-billed stork, great blue turaco, osprey, secretary bird, king fishers and African fish eagles. Other birds viewed are papyrus gonolek, white-faced whistling duck, fulvous whistling duck, Egyptian goose, black crake, long-toed lapwig, great cormorant, African darter, common ringed plover, African jacana, little stint, great snipe, common sandpiper, striated heron, goliath heron, little egret, scared ibis, long-tailed cormorant and many more. Murchison falls also gets some migratory birds from continents like Europe in low season months like November, April-May when it’s cold for the birds, something Murchison doesn’t experience.

Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is primarily known for its safari drives and boat safaris along the Nile River, there are still opportunities for birding along certain trails within the park. Some of the trails are Budongo forest, Rabongo forest, Buligi area, Delta point and the hike to the top of the falls. These trails enable birders enjoy the viewing of the avian life in Murchison and also offer stunning views alongside some animals like the Buligi area where birders can enjoy both birding and safari game drives and see egrets and oxpeckers on the backs of elephants and buffaloes. The birds can be viewed through game drives, boat cruises, hikes, guided nature walks, trekking and community visits. As a birder one is left with only what options to settle for depending on what birds they prefer, weather and trail taken. Though there is no lack of birds to explore or view whenever or whichever trail picked.

The best time to enjoy birding is all year long, however it’s best during the dry months of January-March and December –February which is both a dry and low season. June- September is also a good season as the fruits are abundant and also the mating season which also increases the chances of how many birds one can view. Rainy seasons make trails impossible to maneuver though it one’s desire is to visit during that time and also if a birder desires to see some migratory birds, it is perfectly okay as long as one is well prepared with all equipment needed to ensure a beautiful experience.

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