Mabamba Swamp is one of the best places in the world to spot the highly-sought after Shoebill.This bird has been filmed in many wildlife documentaries of Africa.This creature looks like a big stork although lately it has been classified closer to Pelicans or Herons.This vulnerable bird has some unique features as his big size and massive yellow bill with a sharp nail on its tip that makes him resemble a prehistoric creature.
The swamp also offers other interesting birdlife , with 260 species recorded here.The swamp contains some mixed vegetation although Papyrus is the aquatic dominant grass. See picture below of Papyrus beside some ferns and other grasses.
To get there, i went by bus from Entebbe to Kasanje, and then a motorbike took me to the Mabamba jetty.I hired a boat with a guide for about 40 euros.
Once in the swamp area, the first bird we spotted was a single Long-toed Lapwing, that we saw later on other locations of the swamp.
Riding a bit farther, the conspicuous Malachite Kingfisher was seen perched on a reed.This remarkable bird was seen twice during our canoe trip.
Papyrus Gonolek is another excellent colourful bird that unfortunately we only could heard along our trip.We had great views of African Jacanas walking on the leaves of water lilies several times.
A few Great Cormorants and Long-tailed Cormorants, a single Common Squacco Heron, a solitaire Purple Heron, some single Hamerkops, a group of Egyptian Gooses, a few individuals of Yellow-billed Duck, one Lesser Jacana, a few Common Sandpipers flying or walking near the banks of the swamp, some Grey-headed Gulls and Gull-billed Terns following the boat were also seen along the morning.
African Fish Eagle and African Marsh Harrier were two species of raptors seen alone while soaring the skies.
We reached the farthest area of the swamp after an hour of boat ride.I started to lose hope to see the Shoebill when an individual of this massive bird popped up in that area.It truly had a fearsome look, which you can appreciate in the picture on top of the post.The bird remained still for a long period of time.Then he walked a bit performing slow movements among the grass while looking for prey.
When he started to feel nervous of our presence the bird flew a bit farther away.
We follow him with the canoe.Out of our reach due to the grass that is partly submerged impeded our canoe to continue, the bird restarted his activity looking for fish to hunt.I was stunned and thrilled to stay near this outstanding bird, one of my favourite spotted birds hands down !!!
When going back we had great views of an individual of Blue-headed Coucal.This bird is easily to recognise by its dark blue head and neck, red eyes, white belly, chest and throat, its brownish wings and long black tailed.Winding Cisticola was another nice addition, which was seen in a group of a few numbers perched on the reeds of the swamp late morning.Pied Kingfisher is an adaptable bird that was also spotted perched on the reeds.
A mature male of Fan-tailed Widowbird was another lifer seen on tall grasses while coming back.This beautiful resident bird feeds mainly on seeds.You can notice its fanned tailed that it only shows it when displaying.
My goal was accomplished !!! We got great views of the Shoebill and saw some amazing birds as well during the long morning !!!
Next stop, Entebbe Zoo, which its surroundings provides an excellent location to see some wild and remarkable birds !!!
See you soon my friends !!