Birding in Kibale National Park
Birding in Kibale National Park is the second most done activity by tourists that visit the primate capital of the world and definitely a birders paradise. Kibale National Park, created in 1993, is labelled an Important Bird Area from where tourists keen on birding can spot a variety of bird species. Kibale National Park is home to over 350 species of birds six of which are endemic to the region. The forested nature of Kibale National Park is probably the reason of such a high number of bird species. Bigodi Wetland sanctuary just in the outskirts of Kibale National Park has about 138 bird species that complement the number of birds that travellers can see.
Key species of birds in Kibale National Park include;
Green-breasted pitta which is the most sought after, African Pitta, Abyssinian ground thrush, Crowned eagle, Dusky crimsoning, Collared appalis, Black-capped appalis, Black bee-eater, Yellow spotted nicator, Little greenbul, Black-eared ground thrush, Brown-chested alethe, Yellow-rumped tinker bird and Blue-breasted kingfisher. Chubb’s Cisticola, Black-capped waxbill, Africa Shrike-flycatcher, African Black-headed Oriole, African Emerald Cuckoo, African green-pigeon, Black-crowned Tchagra, African wood owl, alpine swift, Ash flycatcher, Barn swallow, Black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, Black-billed Turaco, Black-billed weaver, African dusky flycatcher, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Blue-throated Roller, Zebra Waxbill, Brown-eared woodpecker, African-pied wagtail, Cameroon Sombre greenbul, papyrus canary, papyrus gonolek, and white collared olive among so many others. All these and more bird species have been recorded in Kibale National Park.
Four bird species recorded in Kibale National Park have not been seen in any other Uganda national park and these include the blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin, the masked appalis and the Cassin’s spinetail. Migratory birds are also recorded here which usually come between November and April.
Birding in Kibale National Park is best done on a guided forest walk which gives tourists an opportunity to spot a variety of them. The well-developed walking/hiking trails in Kibale National Park facilitate easy hiking of the forest while on the lookout for birds. The best bird watching spot is the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is a community project where experienced local guides take birders on a four-hour walking trail in search of various bird species.
Birding tours in Kibale National Park start as early as 7am in the morning at Kanyanchu visitor centre, in the guidance of an experienced bird guide. With a bird guide, travellers are guaranteed of spotting a variety of bird species given that the guides are knowledgeable of the best trails to take.
Best time for birding in Kibale National Park
Birding in Kibale is done all year long. The best time for birding in Kibale National Park however is from March to May and also from September to November, which are the rainy months when the fruits and food are abundant in the forest and thus many birds to be spotted.
What to carry on a birding in Kibale National Park safari
Given that Kibale National Park is a rainforested area, it is necessary for one to carry appropriate clothing and items. Among the items a birder should carry include;
- A field guide book
- Field bag and field clothing
- Binoculars for clear viewing even for distant bird species
- Mineral water bottle
- Insect repellent creams
How to get to Kibale National Park
For travellers after birding in Kibale forest, getting to the park can be done by both road and air. By car, travellers drive a 300km distance from Kampala to Fort Portal and then to Kanyanchu visitor centre. The drives takes about 5-6 hours of scenic and rewarding road drive. By air, travellers fly from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese airstrip or in Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara. The flight takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, after which travellers are transferred to the park.
Kibale National Park apart from being a birds’ haven has the highest density of primates in East Africa. Chimpanzees are the most dominant primate specie in Kibale National Park that most travellers visit the park to engage in a chimpanzee tracking adventure so as to encounter the chimpanzees up-close. Other primates in Kibale National Park include Olive baboons, Grey-cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest’s, Guereza colobus, and red-tailed monkeys among so many others. All these can be seen while on a nature walk, chimpanzee tracking activity or when bird watching. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you plan a birding in Kibale National Park safari.