Birding in mabamba swamp
Birding in mabamba swamp: Mabamba swamp is a Ramser site and one of the best birding destinations in Uganda located west of Entebbe on the northern shore of Lake Victoria. The swamp covers a total area of 2424qkm and is covered with grass, water lilies, papyrus among others. Mabamba swamp was chosen as a Ramser site in 2006 due to its great importance of the unique animals and bird species such as the elusive shoebill stork, papyrus yellow warbler, papyrus Gonolek, and white winged warbler among others. The swamp is a home of over 300 bird species including globally threatened species, migratory species, restricted species among others which makes it a birders paradise.
Birding in Mabamba Swamp
Birding is the major activity carried out because Mabamba swamp is a home of over 300 bird species and one of the best birding destinations in Uganda in that it harbors unique, globally threatened, restricted and migratory bird species. Birding in the swamp is done from a motorized wooden boat with a birder who will be sharing information and also help you to spot various bird species. During birding you will ride following different trails in the thick marshes as you look out for bird species like the pre-historic shoebill stork, black crowned night heron, green cuckoo, yellow billed duck, shinning blue kingfisher, double toothed barbet, little egret, great blue turaco, yellow backed weaver, swamp flycatcher, red eyed dove, pied kingfisher, Harmerkop, grey crowned crane, long tailed cormorant, Hadada ibis, gull billed tern, grey parrot, cattle egret, common squacco heron, brown parrot, white faced whistling, saddle billed stork among others.
Mabamba swamp is one of the destinations where you can view the pre-historic and sought after shoebill stork. The shoebill stork is a predominantly solitary bird that grows up to 150cm tall in height, 24cm in length, 20cm in width, 14 pounds in weight and 230cm to 260cm wingspan. The shoebill stork feeds on all types of fish, lizards, frogs, turtles, water snakes, young crocodiles, snails, rodents among others. The shoebill stork stands is often seen floating on vegetation or standing still in water with its beak pointed down looking out for the prey. Female shoebill stork lays 1 to 3 eggs and both parents share incubation duties for a months before the young ones start hatching. When the chicks are hatched they are fed by the mothers until they start looking for their own food, start flying at 3 months and takes 3 to 4 years to become mature.
When to go for birding in Mabamba swamp .
Birding in Mabamba swamp is best done between September and March and during this period you will be able to view variety of migratory bird species from Europe. Birding can be done either in the morning or in the evening but its best done during morning hours at around 7am when fishing has not become so active.
There are other activities that you can engage in while at Mabamba swamp such as
Sport fishing, this is one of the main activities carries out by the local people, fishing is the economic activity in the area where fishermen catch different fish types such as tilapia, mud fish, lung fish which is the favorable food for the shoebill stork among others. Visitors who want to participate in fishing can carry their own fishing gears or they can just watch the fishermen from a far as they fish.
Canoeing, this is one of the interesting activities where visitors ride in a dugout boat. Canoeing in Mabamba swamp can be arranged for visitors who are interested when going for birding to spot bird species, fishing or touring local villages or islands on Lake Victoria. Visitors who want to engage in canoeing are advised to wear life jackets for safety.
village walks, during the village walk you will interact with the local people, learn about their lifestyle, way of living, visit their homesteads, taste the local food, learn how to make crafts like hats, mats, baskets, bags, sandals among others.
How to get to Mabamba swamp
The swamp is located in Wakiso district in Kasanje, Kamengo and Mpigi sub country and it can be accessed through Kampala or Entebbe. When using the Kampala route you will drive via Masaka road and about 30km to Mpigi you will turn left at Buyege road and then drive for a bout 20km through Kasange to Mabamba bay and the entire journey takes about one hour drive.
When using Entebbe route you will use a boat and pass via Nakiwogo landing site and cross using a ferry to Kasanje landing site and then connect by road by driving about 20minutes through open fields and cultivation gardens to the swamp.
What to carry on your birding safari in Mabamba swamp
When going on a birding safari in Mabamba you should carry a pair of binoculars to view far bird species and those flying up in the air, light rain jacket to protect you from rainfall, long sleeved shirt and trousers, bottled water to keep you hydrated, hat and sunglasses to protect you from direct sunlight, insect repellent to protect your skin from insect bites, camera to take plenty and beautiful photos.