Birding, the latest growing trend in the tourism industry, Uganda birding tours is one of those activates that sound alien until you experience it yourself. The writer is now converted and vows to plant fruit trees in his compound to attract them.
It was one of those Saturday’s, when I failed to sleep in-late and decided to leave bed early. I was tired of doing the usual, I mean going to the lake side beaches. This time round I went birding. A term used to refer to going bird watching.
A friend of mine in the UK linked me to a bunch of his English friends who are coming to Uganda to go birding. He asked me to be their local guide, but, I had no idea what the heck birding is. To acquaint myself with the necessary knowledge, I ventured into the activity, just so when they arrive, I am at least knowledgeable about what I’m doing. Finding a birding spot in Uganda is not difficult, it being a birding Eden with over a thousand bird species.
After a quick shower, then a light breakfast, I jumped into a Lugazi bound taxi, but disembarked at Mbarara and took a rough road to Kasenge Forest Resort beach about three kilometers from the main Kampala – Jinja highway. Tucked away in a valley is the forest resort. I was welcomed by the scent of freshness, not the usual stuffy air in Kampala.
Being that I had gotten there very early at 6 am, I was received by melodies from a variety of singers. Not our usual artists though, but birds. I fished out my binoculars from the bag and started on my new experience of birding. First in my focus was a giant King fisher, as Herbert Byaruhanga, my guide for the day, pointed out.
Despite the cold, the dew and a bit of mist, my group had paid the Shs10, 000 entry free into the forest and entered to embark on the task ahead. I was also able to see the crested crane which is our national emblem, the beautiful blue egrets, fish eagle, shoe bill stork, the lovely white egret and blue Turaco.
And that was just the beginning. At Kasenge Forest Resort Beach, which has a pond, there are over 135 bird species. They reminded me of Winston Churchill’s description of Uganda as the pearl of Africa. A land where birds are as colorful as the butterflies and the butterflies are as big as the birds.
Though I was hesitant and skeptical about going to view birds, I enjoyed the whole experience. The only problem we encountered were the red ants (ensanafu) which gave some ladies a hard time when they climbed and “tortured” them.
Where I grew up from in Soroti, birds were not a thing to find pleasure in, as we grew up shooting them for sport with catapults, and hunting them as a source of proteins.
A new convert
We left the forest in the evening, but not before the insects, birds and frogs in the “lake” all sought for our attention with their new releases and I think remix of their own version of music. As we left, I realized I was a new convert and follower of birding and promised to plant fruit trees in my compound in order to attract the birds and also protect them.
I am now a full birder (a person who goes birding). As I jumped into the car to leave, Byaruhanga gave me an insight into the birds’ love life.
Unlike humans, it is female birds which run after the males and the males only wake up to groom themselves for the females to make a pick. I wish I were a bird.