Birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park : Queen Elizabeth national park is a prime wildlife destination in Uganda and a great birding destination hosting over 618 bird species which is recognized as the 6th in the world and the highest in Africa thus making the park a perfect destination for Uganda birding safaris.
Queen Elizabeth national park has several major spots were birding is done and these include Maramagambo forest, Kasenyi plains, Ishasha Sector, Lake George, Lake Edward and Mweya Peninsula. Queen Elizabeth national park hosts resident bird species, water bird species and migratory bird species which arrive in the park in the months of November to April. These birds perfectly thrive in the savannah plains, forests, fresh water lakes, acacia and euphorbia bushes, lowlands, salty lakes and wetlands. The migratory bird species arrive from Europe and South Africa and can easily be spotted from several spots as explained below.
Key birding spots in Queen Elizabeth national park
Maramagambo Forest is a great birding spot in Queen Elizabeth national park with over 60 bird species, the forest covers the area of the park from the escarpment of Kichwamba and all through to Lake Edward. Maramagambo is an ideal spot for birding and hiking, it is possible to do a half day trek in this beautiful forest giving you an opportunity find crater lakes like Lake Nyamusigire and Kamunzuku. You will be able to spot several bird species (both water and forest bird species) including African Finfoot, Little Grebe, and Red-chested Cuckoo, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Black Coucal, Yellow bill, Blue-breasted Kingfisher and many more
On birding safari in Maramagambo forest, you will also see primates such as black and white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, Baboons, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys which you will find along the way.
Kazinga Channel is a 32 kilometers and 20 miles long natural channel connecting Lake Gorge to the East to Lake Edward to the west, this channel is one of the most important features in Queen Elizabeth national park and a very rewarding spot for birding. The channel is where the Kazinga boat cruise lasting for two hours is done, as you cruise on the calm waters of the channel you will be able to see several water bird species such as Pied Kingfisher fishing, malachite Kingfisher, African skimmer, the Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, Yellow Billed Stork, Great and Long Tailed Cormorants, Open-Billed Stork, Saddle Bill Stork, African Darters, Black Crake and Jacana among others along the shores of the channel. You will also be able to see some of the wild animals living in Queen Elizabeth national park along the shores of Kazinga channel and these include animals like elephants, hippos, antelopes, crocodiles and others
Mweya Peninsula is one of the best spots in Queen Elizabeth national park for birding, the peninsular is located on the northern bank of the impressive Kazinga Channel at the convergence of the Channel with Lake Edward. The area of Mweya Peninsular includes the channel Track all the way down to the Katunguru gate , then across to Kabatoro gate which is covered by dense vegetation dominated by Candelabra Thorn.
During a Uganda birding safari in Mweya Peninsula, birders are able to see various birds including African Mourning Dove, Raptors, Squire-tailed Nightjar, Diederik Cuckoo, Swamp Nightjar and Slender-tailed Nightjar among others. Travelers/birders will also be able to enjoy the scenic views of running water originating from the snowcapped peaks of Rwenzori Mountains.
Ishasha sector is a remarkable area in Queen Elizabeth national park famously known for the tree climbing lions always seen hanging on branches of huge fig tree, on top of that the area is also a great birding spot. Ishasha Sector is located near the fur most south – western rim of the park .
Ishasha Sector is a birder’s haven and a rewarding spot to see several bird species such as Hooded Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, African White-backed Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture and Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture among others.
Lake Edward is another best birding spot in Queen Elizabeth national park especially for viewing of water bird species, the lake is dominated by perennial vegetation cover hosting several bird species which you will enjoy seeing. Some of the birds you will be able to see around Lake Edward include African Crake, Grey Kestrel, Black-bellied Bustard, Helmeted Guineafowl and African Wattled Plover and among others.
Around the area you will also be able to see cape buffaloes, elephants, lions, hippos and crocodiles.
Lake George is part of the Africa’s Great Lakes System and a great birding spot in Queen Elizabeth national park, the lake covers a total surface area of 250 square kilometers. Lake George is a home to several beautiful bird species which you will be able to enjoy during Uganda birding safari in Queen Elizabeth national park, these birds include Grey-backed Fiscal, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, White-browed Robin-Chat, Green Crombec, Yellow-billed Oxpecke, Cisticolas and many more. You will also be able to see many wildlife such as Uganda Kobs, hippos, warthogs, antelopes, cape buffaloes, zebras, monkeys, hyenas, baboons among others.
Kasenyi plains are popularly known for offering the excellent game viewing in Queen Elizabeth national park, the area is also a great birding site. Kasenyi plains are found within the northeastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park, the area is also known as Mweya or Kasenyi Sector. The area is dominated by open savannah attracting various wild animals and is also a major breeding area for Uganda Kobs. The savannah Kasenyi plains host several bird species which you will be able to see including the African Crake, African White-backed Vulture, Palm-nut Vulture, Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Senegal Plover, African Wattled Plover, Bateleurs, White-tailed Lark, Martial eagle, Black-crowned Tchagra, Grey Kestrel, Rufous napped Lark , Brown Snake Eagle, Hooded Vulture, Temmick’s courser, Kittlitz’s Plover, Long-created Eagle, Black-headed gonolek, Crowned Plover and among others.
Best time to go birding in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Birding in Queen Elizabeth national park is best done during late May to September, however birding in Queen Elizabeth national park is good throughout the year. During the period of June to July it is a rainy season resulting into lack of food while April to May and September to November have the highest rate in Queen Elizabeth national park.
Note: during the rainy season the roads can get to be muddy and slippery thus making the chances of spotting birds limited. In Queen Elizabeth national park, migrating birds arrive from November to April.