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Birding Experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Birding Experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in western Uganda, spanning the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri which is 1,978km2 big with the bigger percentage 50% in Bushenyi, 33% in Rukungiri and 11% in Kasese and 376km in distance by road from Kampala. Queen Elizabeth National Park also spans the equator line; monuments on either side of the road marking the exact spot where it crosses latitude 00 and is Uganda’s most visited park and is often paired with Gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest. The park was founded or gazetted in 1952 as Kazinga National Park by combining the Lake George and Lake Edward Game Reserve. It was renamed two years later to commemorate a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to become Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The land currently occupied by the park was a hunting ground for the local tribes which include the Batagwenda, Banyaruguru in the highlands and Bakonzo on the Rwenzori mountains side. At the creation time of the park, the land was never settled due to the infestation of tsetse flies in the area that caused sleeping sickness. As a result, the people who lived there had moved to other neighboring landscapes which left the park an exclusive wildlife habitat. When gazetted as a park, hunting was reduced though any animals that wondered out of the park into the human settlement areas were hunted. In the year 1979 hunting wild animals by soldiers was permitted during the rule of President Idd Amin, this caused considerable loss of Uganda’s wildlife. However due to the successive conservation strategies by Uganda Wildlife Authority, the population was fairly recovered making Queen Elizabeth one of the parks with a wildlife haven in East Africa and also making it the most preferred destination for wildlife activities in Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a home to 95mammals, 600 bird species and 10 primate species including the Chimpanzees. It also has a diverse ecosystem, which includes the sprawling savanna, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands making it the perfect habitat for wildlife available. Some of the animals include tree-climbing lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, hippos, buffaloes, waterbucks, warthogs, forest hogs, Uganda kobs, oribis, crocodiles, red-tailed monkeys, chimps, blue monkeys, plus bird species like grey crowned heron, shoebill stork, African Finfoot, fish eagle, martial eagle, white-tailed lark and may more.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is unique for Tree-climbing lions found in the Ishasha sector situated in the southern part of the park; the only park where Lion tracking is done in the Kasenyi plains as one gets to learn about their social, feeding habits and other issues managed by Uganda Carnivore Project with Uganda Wildlife Authority and the park with the largest number of bird species in East Africa as classified by Birding International with over 600 bird species.

Being the best birding destination in East Africa, Queen Elizabeth is considered a must go to by birders everywhere with over 600 bird species and one expects birds like green-breasted pitta gray crowned-crane, lesser flamingo, Denham’s bustard, ring-necked francolin, Nubian nightjar, African swift, red-knobbed coot, shoebill stork, martial eagle, hooded vulture, African woolly-necked stork, curlew sandpiper, lappet-faced vulture, dark chanting-goshawk, pallid harrier, Abyssinian ground-hornbill, sooty falcon. Black bee-eater, papyrus gonolek, yellow longbill, grauer’s swamp warbler, Chapin’s flycatcher, superb sunbird, papyrus canary, emerald cuckoo, marabou stork, pelicans, African skimmer, African fish eagle, egrets and many more. All these birds can be seen or viewed at different trails in the park like the Maramagambo forest, Ishasha sector, Kasenyi plains, Mweya peninsula, Lake Kikorongo, Kazinga channel, Katunguru Bridge and more.

Bird watching can be done all through the year at Queen Elizabeth National Park however the best time for birding is during the dry season in the months of May-September as there is less rainfall in the park ensuring more birds for viewing and other wildlife. One can also bird watch during the wet season of April-May or October-November giving you a chance to view migratory and colorful birds. Ultimately, the choice of when to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for birding depends on your preferences and priorities as one gets the best of both worlds.

Always consider joining a guided birding excursion led by experienced local guides who are intimately familiar with the park’s avian residents. They can help you identify species, share fascinating insights into bird behavior, and ensure that you make the most of your birding adventure in Queen Elizabeth National Park not forgetting the essentials like binoculars and cameras to ensure that the whole experience and memories are captured.

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