Towards the western main body of Lake Victoria in Mpigi district lies the spectacular Mabamba Swamp, a wide Marsh that stretches through a long narrow bay and is considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) especially the rare Shoebill stork call Mabamba Swamp home. Not only that, this site obtained the status of unprotected area with Bird categories including globally threatened species and Lake Victoria Basin Biome Species. This means that the key activity that takes place here is bird watching which is mainly conducted on canoes, and tourists navigate waterways composing of Lily pads and Papyrus Swamp. This site is a quiet environment with no noise except the sounds of birds that welcome you to this bird sanctuary. Mabamba is also a Ramsite Site and Catchment Area for Lake Victoria.
The Swamp covers an area of 165 square kilometers (16,500 hectares). Besides Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba is another site rated among best spots in Africa where the Elusive Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rex) and about 38% of the world’s population of rare Blue Swallow (Hurundo atroaerulea) can be sighted at anytime of the day, unlike other places where sighting them is a matter of luck. There are about 260 species of birds in total recorded within this Swamp and bird watchers can get a chance to spot at least 157 species in one day. This makes this place an amazing bird watcher’s paradise.
Apart from the elusive Shoebill storks, the other bird species you are likely to sight include Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Grey-rumped and Angola Swallows, Intermediate Egret, Hammerkop, African Jacana, Banded Martin, Malachite Kingfisher, Swamp Flycatcher, Winding Cisticola, Intermediate Egret, African Pygmy Goose, Red-billed Fire-finch, African Purple Swamp-hen, Little egret, Blue Swallow, Common Moorhen, Black-headed Weavers, Yellow-billed Duck, Lesser Jacana, Pied Kingfishers, Long-toed Lapwing, White-faced Whistling-duck, African Pied Wagtail, African Water Rail, Purple Heron, Rufous-bellied Herons, Black Crake, Common Waxbill, Long-toed Lapwing, Swamp Flycatcher, Winding Cisticola, Pallid Harrier, Blue-headed Coucal, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Blue-headed Cuckoo, White-winged Warbler, African fish eagle, Migrants like Goliath Heron, Malachite Kingfishers, Carruther’s Cisticola, Gull-billed Terns, Spur Winged Geese, Pygmy Geese, Northern Brown-throated weaver, White-winged Black Terns, Grey-headed gulls, Common squacco heron, Fan-tailed widowbird, Yellow backed weaver bird, Purple and Black heron, cattle egret, Common moorhen, Papyrus gonolek and African marsh harrier among others.
Preparation for Birding in Mabamba Swamp
Wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers, and some of the important things to carry include packed lunch, enough drinking eater, pair of binoculars, camera, sweater, and a backpack (to carry your lunch, drinking water and cameras).
How to Access Mabamba Swamp Sanctuary
This place is very accessible from Kampala and is just 40 kilometers/ 25 miles (one hour’s drive from Entebbe and 55 kilometers/34 miles West of Kampala City. This is one of the must visit places for tourists interested in birding safaris in Uganda.
In conclusion, Uganda is a home to over 1000 species of birds including the elusive shoebill stork found in few places in Uganda, and one of the unique places that shelters these birds is Mabamba Swamp a catchment area for Lake Victoria. Besides the shoebill storks, tourists can be able to see over 260 bird species hence it is considered an Important Bird Area and a perfect birdwatcher’s paradise.