Kampala: August 31, 2015

Having spent a few mornings on the back porch with my binoculars, I have a better sense of bird activity in my neighborhood. Several adjacent houses along my street have densely vegetated yards that encompass a variety of tall trees. Together these yards create a welcoming green zone. Many birds appear to be residents in this oasis, which also attracts birds from all over the neighborhood. Occasionally, bird activity in this hub spills over into my sparsely landscaped yard, and the humble shrubs and bushes teem with birds like the Yellow White-Eye, Common Bulbul, Tawny-Flanked Prinia, African Thrush, Northern Black Flycatcher, and Variable Sunbird.

I have also noted a few interesting birds overhead. Kampala is built on a series of rolling hills, and my house offers decent views over the city, depending on the air quality. Several of the low-lying areas are marshy extensions of Lake Victoria, between which there is regular heron traffic in the mornings and evenings. Black Kite and Pied Crow are very common, but surprisingly so is the Marabou Stork; in fact, I have seen dozens of storks perched on trees and buildings along busy streets. Other noteworthy records include a Palm-Nut Vulture swooping low through the neighborhood near dusk and a massive vulture, likely an African White-Backed Vulture, spiraling upwards into the sky. 

The Double-Toothed Barbet is my favorite yardbird to date. There is a pair of barbets that move phlegmatically about the neighborhood, spending long intervals in their favorite trees. They are clown-like in appearance: red, white, and black in color, with a heavy ivory bill, bare orbital skin, and unkempt rictal bristles. Aimee and I were also impressed yesterday morning by Ross’s Turaco. A pair scaled a nearby star pine with squirrel-like agility and then sailed off to a stand of trees in the distance, their wings crimson in flight. Certainly, the Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater is the most charismatic bird in the area. Huge, raucous, and ungainly, they crash about from tree to tree, but also demonstrate a softer side when mating pairs feed each other.

Birds Seen: Cattle Egret, Hamerkop, Marabou Stork, Hadada Ibis, Black Kite, Palm-Nut Vulture, Lizard Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Speckled Pigeon, Red-Eyed Dove, Brown Parrot, Ross’s Turaco, Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater, Speckled Mousebird, Double-Toothed Barbet, Common Bulbul, White-Browed Robin-Chat, African Thrush, Tawny-Flanked Prinia, Northern Black Flycatcher, Yellow White-Eye, Scarlet-Chested Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Pied Crow, Ruppell’s Long-Tailed Starling, Grey-Headed Sparrow, Baglafecht Weaver, Red-Cheeked Cordon-Bleu, Red-Billed Firefinch, Bronze Mannikin, Yellow-Fronted Canary, African Citril.

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