Day 24, Friday, May 19, 2019 – Kibale to Queen Elisabeth National Park

We did early morning birding in the garden of Sunbird Hill, but nothing new popped up, so we soon headed for Queen Elisabeth National Park. Nothing of real interest on the way, so we drove to the headquarter for lunch. Our plan was a trip on the Kazinga channel in the afternoon. The channel was quite a disappointment at least for me, just common water birds. The best bird was African Skimmers. After the boat ride we drove back to our lodging for the night. Quite a rustic affair. As we enter the gate Adam shouted Pennant-winged Nightjar. A lifer for me, but unfortunately no pictures. 

Picture from day 24

African Skimmer, Rynchops flavirostris

Some relaxed birding at the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elisabeth National Park

Day 25, Saturday June, 20, 2019 –  Queen Elisabeth National Park to Jacana Safari Lodge

We sat out early the next morning to explore some of the grasslands around the area. Broad-tailed Warbler, Compact Weaver, Marsh Tchagra and Black Coucal was the first nice birds. We drove and drove all day, but did not encounter any other special birds except a pair of Black-headed Gonoleks on the main road. We stopped for lunch at a lodge, where we were planning to stay for the night, but Adam knew a place where they had a special morph of African Paradise Flycatcher, so we drove there. The manager were very happy to see us, so he offered us a special deal to stay there. That is how we ended up at Jacana Safari Lodge. The lodge had a tiny forest patch and we soon got into good birds such as the mentioned Flycatcher, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Fraser´s Rufous Thrush and finally the Blue-breasted Woodpecker. We had a nice meal at the lodge and settled in.

Some Pictures from Day 25

Compact Weaver, pachyphantes superciliosus – Lifer

Marsh Tchagra, Bocagia minuta – Lifer

Black-headed Gonolek, Laniarius erythrogaster

Croaking Cisticola, Cisticola natalensis

Fraser´s Rufous-Thrush, Stizorhina fraseri – Lifer

Bleu-breasted Kingfisher, Halcyon malimbica – Lifer

Day 26, Sunday, June 21 (My birthday) – Jacana Lodge – Buguri (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest)

We had breakfast at the lodge and while having breakfast, I finally managed a picture of the Brown-eared Woodpecker. After breakfast, we set out for Buguri and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. This is one of the birding hotspots in Uganda and our expectations were sky high. Our guide Robert was supposed to meet up around 4 for some briefing so we rigged up on the viewing deck of the restaurant and soon got into nice birds.  Cassin´s Honeybird, Tiny Sunbird, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Thick billed Seedeater, Baglafecht Weaver and Mackinnon´s Shrike was just a few of the birds observed. When Robert arrived, we took a short walk and added Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Many-coloured Bushshrike, Toro Olive Greenbul and  Dusky blue Flycatcher was seen. Adam and I had a slow celebration of my birthday that night knowing that we had an early start the morning after.

Some pictures from Day 26

Brown-eared Woodpecker, Campethera caroli – Lifer

Cassin´s Honeybird, Prodotiscus insignis – Lifer

Tiny Sunbird, Cinnyris minullus – Lifer

Thick-billed Seed-eater, Chritagra burtoni

White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Dioptrornis fischeri, race toruensis

Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Muscicapa comitata – Lifer

Day 27, Monday, June 22, 2019 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Robert picked us up at 06:30 and we knew we had a long walk ahead of us in the forest. Just at the entrance to the forest we started picking up good species: Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Red-headed Bluebill, Bar-tailed Trogon, Kakamega Greenbul, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Scarce Swift, Mountain Oriole, Grey-throated Barbet, White-headed Wood-Hoopoe and Purple-breasted Sunbird. We had fleeting views of 2 Chapin´s Flycatchers and then: Jameson´s Antpecker, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Mountain Illadopsis, Buff-throated Apalis and Equatorial Akalat. We made a turn on the path and came to an area where we got: Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, the first of many Red-throated Alethes, Black-throated Apalis, Elliot´s Woodpecker and  Mountain Masked Apalis. We chased a Willard´s Sooty Boubou for a while, had fleeting glimses, but no picture. The list continued with Black Bee-eaterBlue-headed Sunbird, Pink-footed Puffback, Dusky Tit, White-browed Crombec and back in Camp Cape Wagtail. We had lunch and then I opted for some lazy birding in camp. From the view post I photographed Petit´s Cuckooshrike, Lühders Bushshrike and Brown-capped Weaver. What a fantastic day?

Some Pictures from Day 27:

Grey-winged Robin-Chat, Sheppardia polioptera

Red-throated Alethe, Pseudalethe poiophrys – Lifer

Black Bee-eater, Merops gularis – Lifer

Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Phyllastrephus flavostriatus

Elliot´s Woodpecker, Dendropicos elliotti – Lifer

White-browed Crombec, Sylvietta leucophrys – Lifer

Pink-footed Puffback, Dryoscopus angolensis

Cape Wagtail, Moticella capensis

Lühder´s Bushshrike, Laniarius leuhderi

Petit´s Cuckooshrike, Campephaga petiti

Brown-capped Weaver, Ploceus insigns

Some lazy birding from the dining rooms balcony produced some good birds

Day 28, Tuesday June 23, 2019 Bugira to Ruhija in Bwindi impenetrable Forest.

Adam and I took a little walk in the morning before departure and found a flock of Narrow-tailed Starlings foraging in a tree. We were soon on our way to Ruhija for some other special birds.The road was not very good. We made some stops on the way, but did not pick up anything of real interest besides a pair of African Black Duck. We had lunch on arrival and shortly after set off for a small walk. We encountered quite a few species: Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Chubb´s Cisticola, Yellow-crowned Canary, Grey Bushshrike, Black-billed Turaco, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Mountain Oriole, Regal Sunbird, African Olive Pigeon, Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, Blue Malkoha, Grauer´s Warbler and Ruwenzori Batis. We walked back to camp, had dinner and settled for the night, knowing we would have a very strenuous hike the day after

Some pictures from Day 28

Narrow-tailed Starling, Poeptera lugubris –Lifer

Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Merops oreobates

Chubb´s Cisticola, Cisticola chubbi

Yellow-crowned Canary, Serinus flavivertex

Grey Cuckooshrike, Coracina caesia

African Olive Pigeon, Columba arquatrix

Day 29, Wednesday, June 24 – Ruhija

To day was the big quest for African Green Broadbill. From reliable sources we heard there was a nest in one of the valleys, it was also rumoured to be a very strenuous walk. In addition to the guide, we had two females coming with us, one was the porter and the other the ranger complete with her AK47. We drove my landy to the place were the path descended down in to the valley. Then started the descent. Not many birds to be seen on our way down. After about an hour, we reached the nest only to realise that the young ones had fledged. They had been there the day before, but now they were totally gone. What a total disappointment. We were patiently waiting, but nothing showed up as expected. Meanwhile Adam found a nice swamp nearby and we managed to entice a Red-chested Flufftail to come out. It was just to start the steep climb back up. After a while we picked up a Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Slender-billed Starling and Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul. About halfway up, the rain started. It was a torrential downpour. We tried to wait under a tree, but to no avail. The only chance were to just push on on the path that now more looked like a river. I was so happy when I finally saw my Landrover through the rain. A terrible miss it was! We drove back to camp, sat the rain out and went for an afternoon birding to the place we birded the day before. I got better picture of the Mountain Oriole and Regal Sunbird as well as a new lifer White-tailed Blue Flycatcher. We retired to camp for dinner and sleep.

Some pictures from Day 29

After a brutal walk, the bird had fledged.

Olive-breasted Mountain Greenbul, Arezielocichla kikuyuensis

Mountain Oriole, Oriolus percivali

Regal Sunbird, Cinnyris regius – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Elminia albicauda – Lifer

Day 30, Thursday June 25, Ruhija to Kigali, Rwanda

We set off early in the morning since we had quite a way to go. After a few km Adam said that he used to see the endemic to Albertine Rift valley, Handsome Francolin around where we were.  Sure enough after the next bend, we saw and photographed a couple of them. The drive to Kigali was quite uneventful and the border crossing between Uganda and Rwanda went very smooth. We arrived quite early at our Hotel Chez Lando, had lunch and even time to go for a haircut and some window shopping. We met Gael wande Weghe at night and made plans for the continuation of our trip to the mythical Nyungwe Forest. Gael was going to accompany us on that stretch of the trip. After a nice meal, we settled for the night.

One picture from Day 30:

Handsome Spurfowl (Francolin), Pternistis nobilis – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Day 31, Friday, June 26 Kigali to Nyungwe Forest

Gael showed up in the morning and we were soon on our way. The roads were quite nice most of the way. As we entered the forest, I saw a bird in the middle of the road that looked very odd. I stopped, but had already flushed the bird. We soon found it again and according to Gael, it was only the second sighting of a Dusky Lark in Rwanda! We drove slowly through the park and did not have long to go before we had to stop again. Two Ruwenzori Turacos were feeding in a tree next to the road. we stopped for some Black Saw-wings and Abyssinian Crimsonwings. At the ranger station, I photographed a very weird looking race of Variable Sunbird. We arrived at our lodge on the other side of the Forest, had dinner and settled for the night.

Some pictures from Day 31

Ruwenzori Turaco, Ruwenzorornis johnstoni – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Black Saw-wing, Psalidoprocne pristopthera

Variable Sunbird, Cinnyris venusta – Race igneiventris

Day 32, Saturday, June 27 – Nyungwe Forest

We woke up early and went to the information center inside the park to pick up our guide. We decided to go for a small loop around the tourist center that day. We needed to walk on the tarmack for a while before the path entered the forest. The birding was absolutely fantastic. In a couple of 100 meters we got Dusky Crimsonwing, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Ruwenzori Batis and Stripe-breasted Tit + many more. Once inside the small road in the forest, we quickly picked up Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Ruwenzori Apalis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, White-browed Crombec, African Emerald spotted Cuckoo, Kungwe Apalis, Bar-tailed Trogon, Mountain Oriole and Red-throated Alethe. it turned out to be quite a hike (5 hours), but we were eventually back at the tourist center. What a start! We walked a little around the tourist centre and also picked up Thick-billed Seed-eater and another Albertine Rift Endemic, Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird. We went back to the lodge for lunch and wanted to try out a new place in the afternoon. We drove to a tea plantation and on our walk through the plantation saw Red-faced Crimsonwing. Inside the forest we found Many-colured Bush-Shrike, Willard´s Sooty Boubou and Black-billed Weaver. Having had some streneous hikes, we decided to retire to camp early. Fantastic pictures of many species, but always the ones that got away.

Some pictures from day 32:

Nyungwe Forest in all its glory

Dusky Crimsonwing, Cryptospiza jacksoni – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Phylloscopus laetus – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Ruwenzori Batis, Batis diops – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Stripe-breasted Tit, Parus Fasciiventer – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Purple-breasted Sunbird, Nectarinia purpureiventris – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx montanus – Lifer

Bare-tailed Trogon (male) – Apaloderma vittatum

Bare-tailed Trogon (female) – Apaloderma vittatum

Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird (female) – Cinnyris sthulmanni – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Per, Gael and Adam, Three very happy birders after the morning birding

Willard´s Sooty Boubou, Laniarius willardi – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Many-coloured Bushshrike, Chlorophoneus multicolor – Lifer

Day 33, Sunday June 28 – Nyungwe Forest

Another full day in the forest. Today we were going to explore another forest path. On the way, we found a Great Blue Turaco sitting silently by the roadside. It did not even flinch when big trucks were driving close by. very odd behaviour. A little later we happened upon 2 Handsome Spurfowls  at the side of the road. We parked the car at the tourist centre and walked towards where the path entered the forest. We had great views of a Ruwenzori Hill-Babbler, juvenile White-starred Robin and a White-browed Crombec (It was so close so I failed to find it in my viewfinder).  A little further on the road, we found a nicely perched Northern Puffback. A troup of Chimps suddenly came out of the forest and walked on the road in front of us. We entered the forest and it was very very quiet. At one point, I believed all the birds had deserted the forest. We walked and walked without seeing any birds. When we finally started to get close to the road again a Archer´s Robin-Chat popped up and allowed for some pictures. Right after an Abyssinian Thrush sat perched nicely. We were out of the forest and walked slowly back to the tourist centre. The only nice bird we picked up was a Regal Sunbird. Back at the Tourist centre, we were entertained by 2 Ruwenzori Turacos hopping around in a tree next to our table. We decided to go back to the tea plantation we were the day before. On the way, we saw some bird activity and stopped. We got the Mountain Masked Apalis and the Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher. There was also a Ruwenzori Apalis around, but not even on the third encounter did we manage to get a picture of that little bugger. We entered the Tea plantation and found Kandt´s, Yellow-bellied and Fawn-breasted Waxbill in addition to Short-winged (Siffling) Cisticola. At the entrance to the forest, a White-tailed Blue Flycatcher was entertaining us in the canopy. Inside the forest it was again very very quiet. At night, Gael knew a spot for the Ruwenzori Nightjar and the Albertine Owlet. The nightjar popped out right away, but we did not hear or see the owl. Time for bed. 

Great Blue Turaco, Corythaeola cristata

Rwenzori Hill-Babbler, Sylvia atriceps – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

White-starred Robin (Juvenile), Pogonocichla stellata

Northern Puffback, Dryoscopus gambensis

Archer´s Robin-Chat, Cossypha archeri – Endemic Albertine Rift – Lifer

Abyssinian Thrush, Turdus abyssinicus

Ruwenzorui Turaco, Ruwenzorornis jacksoni – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Mountain Masked Apalis, Apalis personata – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Melaenornis ardesiacus – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Short-winged (Siffling) Cisticola, Cisticola Brachypterus

Kandt´s Waxbill, Estrilda Kandtii

Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Estrilda paludicola

Day 34, Monday June 29 – Nyungwe Forest

This was the day when Adam and Gael decided to do the Bigugu trail. After all the heavy walking the day before, I was not up to it. I dropped them at the start of the trail and went back to the tourist centre. I was planning to just walk on the road near the centre, but when I arrived a heavy rain hit us very hard. I was thinking about the boys on the heavy trail, but had no means of contacting them. I just relaxed and waited for the rain to pass. After 3 – 4 hours I finally got a call from them to pick them up. They all looked like drowned cats. We went back to the lodge so the guys could dry up and get on warm clothes. By this time, the rain had stopped and we decided to give it a new try in the area with the tea plantation. We then managed to get 3 target birds Neumann´s Warbler, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye and White-bellied Robin-Chat. It was a fantastic outing. We went back to camp, had a few beers with the Dinner and settled in.

Some pictures from Day 34

The Bigugu trail did not attempt me

Neumann´s Warbler, Hemitesia neumanni – Endemic to Albertine Rift -Lifer

White-bellied Robin-Chat, Cossyphicula roberti – Lifer

Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, Platysteira concreta – Lifer

Day 35, Tuesday June 30 Nyungwe Forest to Kigali

Everything needs to come to an end, so the day was the day to go back to Kigali. Driving through the park, we picked up a White-tailed Ant-Thrush. We did not see a lot more before we exited the park and saw a Brown Woodland Warbler (very different colouration to the ones I am used to in Tanzania, at a Swamp we got our first Grauer´s Swamp Warbler. and also an overflying Mountain Buzzard. We still had a long drive to Kigali so soon left. The drive was uneventful and we safely arrived at the hotel.  Our plan was to continue to Akagera National Park the day after and then back to Arusha, but Adam decided that he would fly home from Kigali instead and asked if I minded driving all the way back myself. I did not object, so that turned out to be the plan.

Some pictures from Day 35

Brown Woodland Warbler, Phylloscopus umbrovirens – Endemic to NE Africa

Mountain Buzzard, Buteo oreophilus – Endemic to NE Africa

Grauer´s Swamp Warvler, Bradypterus graueri – Endemic to Albertine Rift – Lifer

Day 36 and 37, July to July 2 KigaIi to Singida and Singida to Kiligolf.

I left the hotel at 06:00 in the morning and had about a 14 hour drive in front of me. I hoped to get to Singida before nightfall and just managed. I took it a little easy the day after with only about 6 hours from Singida to Kiligold and arrived safe and sound on July 2nd. 

All in all a fantastic trip with more than 100 lifers. Many of the birds avoided my pictures, so I have to go back again

Some heavy Driving

Last leg