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Uganda: Lake Mburo

August, 2019


I don't actually have a lot to share from here. We spent most of the day driving here from Bwindi. We actually messed up this part of the trip a bit. We were supposed to have a full game drive the day after we arrived. Unfortunately, we flew out of Entebbe that same evening. After reviewing flight times and drive times, it became apparent that we would not have time for the game drive. We should have allowed an extra day on the end of the trip, too. We were supposed to do a game drive and a boat trip in Lake Mburo. In order to ensure that Carmen got a decent game drive in, I put off the boat trip in favor of using the time for a game drive.


We set off in the morning for another long day of travel; of course, we did do a little birding along the way. We also stopped for lunch at a place that served a buffet of local foods and had an enjoyable break from packed lunches. Afterwards, we took a few minutes to bird the grounds.

While driving through a large area of banana plantations, we came around a bend to an area of pine trees. In the air were hundreds of bats. Huge fruit bats! Our guide stopped the van, and we jumped out to try and get pics. That's when we realized it also smelled pretty bad. Still, it was amazing, and we spent a while trying to capture the experience of it. I could have used a wide-angle lens.


Lake Mburo is partially settled by cattle ranchers. During the years of Idi Amin, people moved into the park and established ranches. Once things were settled politically, the ranchers were allowed to stay. They can graze their cattle on the land, but they are not allowed to alter the park in any other way. The cattle here are the large Ankole cattle with the amazing sets of horns. Carmen was very eager to get some shots of the cattle.


When we arrived at the park, it was blazing hot; quite a difference from the mountains. We waited a little bit and then headed back out. It was a lot of the same animals we'd seen before with a few new ones thrown in.

We got our best look at Topi here, and we also saw the "Maneless" Plains Zebra. Yes, they look like they have manes to me, too. The tough animal to see here is the Eland, and we got distant views of it.

The animal I was most excited about was the Dwarf Mongoose. We'd seen a few other mongoose species this trip, but we were not able to manage pics of them. The Dwarf is, in my opinion, the cutest mongoose out there, though. I was happy to see a few of these guys.


While we were on a game drive, it would be hard to imagine me not doing some birding. The Crested Barbet was a nice surprise when it flew past the van. The Lilac-breasted Roller was a bird I'd dreamed of photographing again; ever since I'd seen them in Tanzania. Unfortunately, I just could not get a cooperative bird in the time we had.

I still feel like we've been cheated on starlings here in the US....


We did, finally, do a little night birding on the way back to the lodge. After flushing a couple birds from the road and seeing another Penant-winged Nightjar fly by, we stopped and birded the drive up to the lodge. We managed to find a Freckled Nightjar, which was nice; as I heard the calls throughout the night, and I would have wondered what I was hearing. Back in the room, I noticed that the dozen or so Tropical House Gecko we'd had earlier in the day had disappeared. Pretty neat that they are in the room, but it did make me wonder how they were getting in and out of the place.


The following morning, we had breakfast and then made a couple stops on the way out. I managed a few more photos of some birds, and we even managed a couple new trip birds on our final hour here.

The Brown-chested Lapwing was an early migrant, and the White-winged Widowbird was nearly the last bird I took a picture of this trip. Both were new and welcome additions. We did great on both lapwings and widowbirds this trip. The widowbirds was mixed into a flock of Red-billed Quelea.

Even in breeding plumage, the bird is not much to look at. Not that it's exactly plain, either. What makes this bird special is the numbers of this species. This bird holds the title of most numerous bird on the planet. At times, if forms megaflocks numbering in the millions. It would have seemed a shame not to have gotten a photo of the most numerous bird in the world. And you probably thought it was the House Sparrow.


Carmen's final photos of the trip was another set of polaroids. A small group of children were heading out to herd cattle and walked by where we were watching some birds. We asked if they would like to have pictures of themselves. After our guide explained what we were offering, the kids suspiciously posed for individual shots. Once it became clear, they were all eager for a picture. Their smiles, and that of Carmen's, were well worth the stop. We will need more film for our next trip.


My final photo of the trip was another bird that was high on my list of "wants". Yes, I had a lot of birds on that list. We have pigeons here in the US. If you count the feral Rock Pigeons, then we even have a great variety of colors: grays, whites, reds, and black. What we don't have is green. We'd just settled in for the long drive to Entebbe when I spotted this African Green-Pigeon sitting in a tree. It allowed us some photos, and then I put the camera away in my pack.

Last photo of the trip.

We headed back to Entebbe; making a stop at the equator along the way. We shopped a little, had lunch, got some photos, and watched a really cool demonstration of the Coriollis Effect. Dishes separated by 20' or so on each of side of the equator spiraled water in different directions down a hole in the bottom of a dish. The dish directly on the equator simply drained the water straight down.


From there, it was the usual travel pains of dealing with airports, security, and inconsiderate passengers. About 20 hours after leaving Entebbe, we were in Chicago and starting our 3 hour drive home. It would be nice to sleep in our own bed and brush our teeth with water from the tap. It's the little things you look forward to when you return. But it's being someplace else and seeing their sites, sharing a little of their culture, and viewing and photographing their wildlife that makes missing those little things well worth it.


Thanks for reading,

Mike



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