Shoebill Stork And Bird Watching Tours In Mabamba Swamp

The main attraction at Mabamba is the shoebill stork just like in Murchison falls national park where the shoe bill sort can be seen anywhere throughout the day.

Shoebill Stork And Bird Watching Tours In Mabamba Swamp

Are you looking for shoebill stork and bird watching tours in Mabamba swamp? Yes; Uganda is truly blessed with nature for safari holidays. In terms of diversity in plants and animals, Uganda comes in the second place in the whole of Africa though small and landlocked, Uganda is among the best countries for bird watching in the whole world. The country is blessed with a high number of bird species that is over 1070 bird species. Mabamba bay is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda. Mabamba bay swamp is situated close to Kampala city and Entebbe town which allows birders to see many of Uganda’s famous colorful birds without having to go to parks. Mabamba bay swamp is one of the swamps in Lake Victoria. It is found close to Entebbe town and Kampala city in a village called Kasanje.  The main activity done by people here is hunting, mining and fishing. The Mabamba swamp is famous for famous for its amazing bird collections with over 260 bird species recorded in the area. This swamp is one of the most tourist attractions in Uganda. In 2006, Mabamba swamp was chosen as a Ramsar site and wetland of international importance because of its uncommon and attractive bird species such as papyrus yellow warbler, shoebill stork, blue swallow, sitatunga and many more. Ramsar convention on wetland is an intergovernmental treaty that teaches about the conservation, wise use and safe guarding of wetlands and their treasures. Because is under UNESCO world heritage, the swamp has become an important birding area in Uganda helping to attract a lot of birders to Uganda. The area is a starting point for tourists having a long safari in Uganda and interested in birding because it’s located near the Entebbe international airport.

The main attraction at Mabamba is the shoebill stork just like in Murchison falls national park where the shoe bill sort can be seen anywhere throughout the day. Mabamba wetland does not only have the shoebill stork but it’s also a sanctuary to the four threatened species that is the papyrus gonolek, pallid harrier, blue swallow and white-winged warbler. Other species found at Mabamba bay swamp include Whinchat, Weyn’s Weaver, ross’turaco, Weaver birds, Water Thicknee, Violet-backed Sterling, Village Weaver, red-shouldered cuckoo shrike, Veilots’ Black Weaver, the Blue Swallow, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Tawny Eagle, red-headed love-bird, Tambourine Dove,  Swamp Flycatcher, red eye bird, Stripped Kingfisher, Squacco heron, Spur-winged, Spur-winged Lapwing, red-chested cuckoo, Spur-winged Geese, Speckled Mousebird, Slender-billed Weaver,red-billed fire-finch,  Slender-billed Gull, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Sand Martin, Sand Martin, Saddle-billed Stork, Ruppell’s Long-tailed Sterling, purple heron, Rufous-napped Lark, Rufous-bellied Herons, pygmy geese, pint-tailed whyda, Pied Wagtail, whiskered terns, Pied Kingfishers, yellow throated greenbul, Papyrus yellow warbler, yellow-billed ducks, yellow backed weaver, yellow wagtail, yellow warble, Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, Pallid Harrier, yellow-billed stork, yellow billed duck, Orange Weaver,  Olivaceous Warbler, Northern Brown-throated Weather, yellow-billed kite, Mosque Swallow, Marsh Harrier, Malachite Kingfisher, Long-toed Lapwings, woodland kingfisher, wood sandpiper, Long-tailed Cormorant, Long-Crested Eagle, Long tod lapwing blover, Little Stilt, Little Egret, winding cistocola, white faced wishtling duck, white throated bee eater, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Lesser Jacana, Intermediate Egret, Harmerkop, Hadada Ibis, Gull-billed Terns, Grosbeak Weaver, Grey-rumped, Grey-Headed Sparrow, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Grey-headed Gulls, white shouldered tit,  Grey-crowned Crane, Grey Woodpecker, little beat eater, Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, Green Cuckoo, grey parrot, Great White Pelican, Great White Egret, Great Cormorant, Great Blue Turaco, Grassland Pipit, Goliath Herons, Glossy Ibis, Fulvous Whistling-duck, double toothed barbet, pink-backed pelican, Fork-tailed Drongo, Fork-tailed Drongo, Fly catcher, eastern grey plantain eater, Flappet Lark, Feral Pigeon, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Eurasian hobby, Crowned Hornbill, African jacana, Comrants, Common Waxbill, Common Stonechat, Common Sqacco Heron, African water rail, Common Sandpiper, Common Moorhens, pallid harrier, Common Greenshank, Common Bulbul, Cattle Egret, Carruther’s Cisticola, Brown Snake-Eagle, African water rail, Brown Parrot, Blue-headed Cuckoo, Blue-headed Coucal, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, African pygmy goose, Blue Swallow, Blue headed coucal, Blue Breasted Bee-eater, Black-winged Stilt, African pied wagtail, African marsh harrier, Black-headed Weavers, Black-headed Heron, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Black-crowned Waxbill, African hoope, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black- headed weavers, Black Headed Gonolek, Black Headed Gonolek, Black Egret, Black Crake, Banded Martin, Ashy Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Angola Swallows, African fish eagle, African common moorhen among others.

About the shoebill stork and birding tours in Mabamba swamp

Known as Bbulwe by the local people, the shoe bill got its name from its huge shoe shaped bill. The shoebill stork is the most sought of bird in east Africa. It’s a shy bird with a mysterious physical appearance. Its most striking feature is massive, large, uneven and yellow colored bill. The shoebill stork is one of the ugliest birds looking like a creature straight out of the Jurassic age. Regardless of what people say about it, the tourists and birders find them interesting. Many people come to visit Uganda purposely to see these birds. The shoebill stork are mainly found in the papyrus swamps of sub-Sahara regions of Africa among which include DR Congo, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan. Uganda has about 1000 shoebill stork and these can be seen in Queen Elizabeth national park in Ishasha sector, Nabajuzi swamp in Masaka, Ziwa rhino sanctuary, Murchison falls national park, Semiliki game reserve, Lake Mburo national park and Lake Kyoga. The shoebill feed mostly on lung fish but they also feed on small water animals, snakes, frogs, turtiles, lizards, snails, crocodiles and rodents.

The shoebill stork is a solitary bird with 1 pair getting together during the breading season which normally occurs during the dry season and this helps the nests from being destroyed by the floods. The females lay 1 to three eggs and both the male and female share incubation until the eggs hatch. After hatching the shoebill stork have to feed the young ones until they learn how to get their own food. Most of the times the young ones don’t survive its only one that can survive until adulthood. The shoebill stork can live up to 50 years.

How to get to Mabamba swamp and wetland

Mabamba bay swamp and wetland can be accessed from either Entebbe or Kampala. Those coming from Entebbe can use Entebbe-Kampala road and branch off from Kisubi. From Kisubi you drove off to Kasanje until you get to Mabamba or they can use a speed boat though Lake Victoria to reach Mabamba swamp which takes you 45 to 50 minutes. Using the speed is adventurous because you explore Lake Victoria while bypassing Entebbe airport and the town. Those coming from Kampala can use hire a car, or use a taxi. After reaching Kasanje trading center you can use a boda boda to Mabamba bay swamp which is about 1 3.5 km away from the main road. Those coming from Masaka can branch off from Buyege and go to Mabamba about 22 kms.

When you arrive on Mabamba swamp you will find welcoming guides waiting to escort you deep down the wetland to see different birds. The canoes at Mabamba takes only 3 birders excluding the guide and the boat driver. The boat costs USD 7and the boat and the guide together pay USD 35. You should move with a life jacket and insect repellents and in case you don’t have them you should request for one. The boat owners and the bird guides are mainly from the nearby communities. Paying this money is giving to the community and helping to save birds and other animals in the wild. As soon as the boat starts to move, your guide and the boat man will help you to move closer to the birds by navigating through the papyrus. You should have your binoculars and cameras ready to see bee eaters, shoebill stork and other bird species. Taking the pictures of the shoebill is much easy reason being that they stay still for long periods as they observe fish and frog movements. Before making a lightning strike.

The shoebill stork support themselves by standing on the floating reeds. There are high chances of spotting shoebill stork in Mabamba because of the High Corporation and team work among birding guides. When several visitors visit the bay, the guides spread out to and go to different parts of the swamp. There are good at communication and anyone who sees the shoebill first alerts the rest of the people about their presence. Within little time, the birds gather in one place and they take a closer look at the shoebill.

Important information about birding tours in Mabamba

Birding tours at Mabamba are arranged daily and they take about 4 hours but full day birding can also be arranged but on request. The best time to go for birding at Mabamba bay swamp is the period between September and March

Other things to do and look out for while visiting the Mabamba swamp

Watching butterflies: even though bird watching is the main highlight of a tour of the Mabamba wetland, there are over 200 butterfly species that catch your eyes. The most common butterfly species are the acrea aganice, acraea consanquine, achea aurivilli and abisaraneavei.

Spot fishing: before tourism became more serious, the main activity that was done in Mabamba was fishing. Fishing is still done in the area and the most fish species caught here include tilapia, mudfish, lungfish, large Nile perch to mention but a few. There are many fishermen in the area so you can join them and take part in fishing or you can watch them from a distance

Spotting the sitatunga antelope: Mabamba is a sanctuary for sitatunga antelopes. While on a bird watching tour in Mabamba bay swamp, it’s possible to come across these antelopes. Their number has become steadily less in the recent days because of uncontrolled poaching. The poachers catch them and they have burnt down their hiding places. The government and other wildlife conservations are doing much to sensitize the population about the benefits of these sitatungas to the environment and community.

Canoeing: canoeing can be arranged to see more of the birds, go fishing and exploring nearby islands on Lake Victoria. Put on a life jacket when you are boarding a canoe and if you don’t have ask the boat owners to give you one.

Village walks and visiting craft shops: the village walks give you an opportunity to join with the local people and you get to let how they live and makes ends meet. Many people round Mabamba wetland practice subsistence farming. You can visit any of the beautiful crafted bags, baskets, mats and nuts. Most of these items are made from the reeds got from Mabamba swamp. Mabamba swamp also provides local herbs and local building materials for huts to local people.

Visiting other tourism spots in Entebbe: after a successful visit to Mabamba wetland, you can go relax at any of the beaches around Lake Victoria or visit the Uganda wildlife authority formerly known as the Entebbe zoo. Another attraction in Entebbe is the Ngamba island sanctuary on Ssese islands.

Conservation and the future of Mabamba wetland

Many tourists come to Uganda with the purpose of seeing the shoebill stork. This has helped to bring much attention to their increasing number and the need to over protect them not only in Mabamba but also other places in Uganda where they are found. The swamp is a habitat to the rare sitatunga type of antelope. Even though these are antelopes are reducing because of uncontrolled poaching, the shoebill stork are also losing habitats. The wetland is being destroyed by the local people who are encroaching it to construct houses and construct infrastructure. The fishermen also killed a number of shoebill stork because they could fish which would lead to poor catch. Some fisher men used to steal the shoebill eggs and sell them to the local market. The government and other wildlife conservation agencies have sensitized the fishermen and the local people about the importance of the swamp, birds and sitatungas to the overall eco-system. Because of sensitization, the community and the fishermen has seen the great benefits of the swamp, birds and the wildlife. The fishermen get money from the tourists that rent their boats and the local people have sold their handmade items to tourists and some have been trained to be bird guides.

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