Image of the Month March 2023: Black Bee-eater

Photographer: David Hoddinott   Destination: Uganda

Uganda is quite aptly known as the Pearl of Africa, which should certainly ring true to the Avian enthusiasts as a list of over 1000 species awaits in this astonishingly species rich country. Highlights such as this Black Bee-eater abound. At a distance this little jewel can often appear completely black however on closer inspection reveals a stunning bright red throat and electric blue belly, undertail, and chest spots. The Black Bee-eater is a special of West and Central Africa and is confined largely to the regions rainforest zones where it can be found in both lowland and foothill forests. They love dead or leafless snags that protrude from the canopy, and they use these vantage points to sally out and catch insects.

Uganda offers fabulous birding and wildlife viewing opportunities and many of Africa’s most distinctive, well known, and sought-after species can be found here. The one of a kind Shoebill, seemingly a remnant of forgotten times, is likely to be a goose bump inducing encounter while a moment where time stands still as a Green-breasted Pitta hops into sight amongst the forest leaf litter, exudes the magic of the destination.

For many visitors the suite of Albertine Rift endemics rank high among the star attractions. All are localised in distribution and occur in the Afromontane forests bordering western Uganda, neighbouring Rwanda to the south and the eastern DRC to the west. The fascinating Grauer’s Broadbill is certainly one of the most sought-after and is still somewhat shrouded in mystery with only two isolated populations known, one of which is in Uganda. Interestingly this isolated relic of a migrant Asian stock has been superseded elsewhere on the continent by indigenous genera evolved from a common ancestor. Other Albertine Rift Endemics such as Red-throated Alethe, Neumann’s and Grauer’s Warblers, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Dwarf Honeyguide and Dusky Crimsonwing are all high-quality species while names like Regal Sunbird, Handsome Francolin, and Strange Weaver give some insight into how those who termed the birds were bowled over by them!

While fascinating plants, insects and reptiles are guaranteed to present themselves during a birding tour to this region, the mammals are worth a special mention. As the last remaining natural stronghold for Mountain Gorillas, national parks here such as Bwindi and Mgahinga offer the once-in a lifetime opportunity of tracking these powerful Great Apes on foot. One can also track Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest where it is also possible to see a further 9 species of primate in a single day! Elsewhere iconic national parks such as Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls offer a splendid selection of more typical but no less spectacular African wildlife including Leopard, Lion, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Zebra, Giraffe and even oddities such as the bizarre little Checkered Elephant Shrew and Giant Forest Hog.

Join us on an adventure through this megadiverse African country for a never-ending stream of birding and wildlife excitement. Our 17-day Comprehensive tours to the country typically see well over 500 species while our 14-day Highlights tour also targets the key Albertine Rift endemics, Shoebill, and the Great Apes. Excellent photographic opportunities abound while accommodations are well appointed and very comfortable!

Join us in Uganda today and Discover More…