Papyrus Gonolek

The Papyrus Gonolek, or Laniarius mufumbiri, is a brilliantly colored skulker endemic to the papyrus swamps of the Great Lakes region. Depending on their itinerary, visiting birders to Uganda will likely first become familiar with the similar Black-Headed Gonolek, a common denizen of woodland, thickets, bush, and cultivation. The Papyrus Gonolek differs in appearance primarily by its golden-yellow crown and white wing bar. It is boisterous and can seem locally abundant in the early morning, when pairs are calling loudly; however, in the bigger picture, papyrus swamps are steadily being degraded, whether by drainage, pollution, overfishing, or the harvest of papyrus itself. As a result, the bird’s conservation status is near-threatened. Visiting birders undoubtedly won’t leave Uganda without seeing this beauty, but it does take a concerted effort. I photographed these individuals at a well-known site between the town of Mpigi and Mabamba Swamp, located about an hour from Kampala.

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