Kampala: August 28, 2015

From a birding perspective, my first impressions of Kampala are overwhelmingly positive. Compared to Dar es Salaam, where Indian House Crows have decimated the indigenous avifauna, Kampala abounds with birds. In the leafy gardens of our neighborhood, I have already noted a wide variety of common East African birds. In addition, the two most ubiquitous birds of the planet’s urban areas, the House Sparrow and Feral Pigeon, are conspicuously absent. The yard at our house is large and sparsely planted, but the gardens of several adjacent houses are mature and rife with birds.

Throughout the day, bird song is constant: Variable Sunbirds are consistently chipper, Common Bulbuls exchange simple greetings, Hadada Ibises raucously announce their arrival and departure, Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbirds monotonously keep track of time, Pied Crows shout to each other in flight, and Eastern Grey Plantain-Eaters laugh uproariously on occasion. It is a varied and steady chorus that keeps me slightly distracted all day, waiting for an unusual bird to arrive. I am already attune to the song of the gorgeous Scarlet-Breasted Sunbird, and my ears are hungry to learn the call of the spectacular Double-Toothed Barbet.

The weather in Kampala is supremely pleasant. The temperature hovers around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is low. There is an intermittent breeze that ripples the palms and broad leaves of the banana trees. In the distance, clouds bloom above Lake Victoria and drift past the hills of Kampala unthreateningly. The air is slightly hazy with dust and burnt trash, making landmarks appear further away than they actually are. Aside from the opening of a squeaky gate or the rumble of a passing car, the neighborhood is strikingly quiet. It is difficult to imagine an African capital city offering a better quality of life for expatriates. 

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