By Titus Kakembo
When birding a trip from Kampala to Mburo National Park that could have taken two hours ends up in six hours. Before the machine gains momentum, a grey African Parrot is spotted. This is during the ongoing 4th Birding EXPO which kicked off in Mabamba Swamp on November 27.
“Halt!” Herbert Byaruhanga’s husky voice booms.
The driver disengages the dears and the bus grinds to a halt. The camera and binoculars are fished out. Maximum silence prevails or they send the feathered beauties in flight. Sign language and whispers prevail.
“Look in that tree!” adds Byaruhanga. “At a quarter past three. It is a nesting, It has the capacity to mimic more than twenty words. They are found here and in the DR of Congo. But they hate the sound of guns of war. Most have sought refuge in Uganda.”
In one spot were were: the Cattle egret, the Great Blue Turaco and a Saddle-billed stork. They flapped their wings in flight. Others turned around for the beautiful side to be photographed. Others could not wait to court in public.
“Are the birds in Uganda habituated like the gorillas?” joked an impressed George Armistead from Philadelphia. “The way that Shoebill in Mabamba Swamp was at ease with our presence is practised expertise.”
Beaming with smiles of satisfaction Eric Ostrander was breathless seeing the green vegetation in the countryside.
“We birders are one global community,” confided Ostrander. “There is no winner in this hobby. When one sees a rear one we squeal ourselves hoarse on social media to call other birds to follow suit. Sharing Is a birders way of saying come and enjoy.”
With 200 trained bird guides spread across the country, the hobby is picking up momentum. There are female guides and children birders clubs.
Birding is a hobby with many benefits as it can be enjoyed in your neighbourhood or embark on a guided birding expedition.
“It can be enjoyed at any time of the day, preferably morning hours during any time of the year in Uganda,” sums Byaruhanga. “In Uganda, one can interact with the outdoors, whether you look out the window, walk to your car or go hiking, it is an opportunity for a bird sighting.”
And birds are teachers of nature. Unlike other wildlife, birds live everywhere. To understand them, all it takes is a little knowledge and a willingness to observe.