Thursday, September 8, 2011

Limpopo Weekend Raptor Trip 19th to 21st August 2011

Michael Parker and Malcolm Wilson

The main reason for this trip was to increase Michael’s experience of handling raptors so he could apply for his raptor endorsement licence, so we went for numbers. However we got a bit more than we bargained for!

Leaving Johannesburg at 0500hrs we got past Pretoria and into the Springbok Vlakte, a huge area once covered with millions of Springbok, now mostly farms and re-colonising thorn-scrub. However, a good area for some species of raptor and we had our first bird in the bag at 0700hrs in the form of an adult Greater Kestrel.

Over the next couple of hours, we caught 5 Black-shouldered Kites, 2 sub adults, 2 juvs and an adult. We were very surprised to find and early Black Kite which but was hell bent on feeding on something in The centre of the main road, something very flat and very dead.

At lunchtime we had just passed the city of Polokwane when we spotted a large Brown Snake Eagle on a pole by the side of the N1 Highway. Normally it is madness to attempt catching such a bird so near traffic, but I saw a plan. There was a large verge and a farm track away from the road and so we tried for it and succeeded!! It was a 2nd year bird with a moult score of 8 and weighed in at a healthy 2.1kg. We let it go some 2 km from the highway as road collisions are one of the highest causes of mortality for large eagle.

We now set off into a more remote area and before reaching camp caught a 2nd year Pale-chanting Goshawk which we showed to a passing tractor full of farm labourers, all most appreciative and went on their way with renewed resolve to conserve Limpopo’s birds of prey! At camp we spotted a pair of African Hawk Eagles in the distance, too obscured to drop for. We set 3 nets in the dry scrub and caught a few Green-winged Pytila, Blue Waxbill and Brown-crowned Tchagra. 2 of the Pytilia were retraps from January 2009!

I baited up a likely area for Spurfowl and set 3 potter traps for them.


Opened nets at dawn and caught a few more Pytilia and a Long-billed Crombec but not much else so we got on the road at 0800hrs. The first highlight of the day was spotting a juvenile Martial Eagle on the wing high up and too far off to drop a trap for (mind you, one should never underestimate the power of vision of this species).

The rest of the morning we spent following a very nice track through some remote bush and caught 2 Pale-chanting Goshawks, a Black-shouldered Kite and a new one for Michael in the form of an adult Dark-chanting Goshawk.

At noon we spotted a Brown Snake Eagle on a tree, low down but worth having a go for and dropped a trap. The bird was hungry, and was on the trap in no time, and caught after a 5 minute adrenalin charged wait! The bird weighed 2.1kg and an adult.

20 minutes later we came across another 3 Browns sitting on pylons in an area of burnt grassland. 2 were too far off but we found one on a pole next to the track and dropped for it to which it responded immediately and we had a second Brown in the space of 30 minutes, this was amazing! It was another adult weighing in at 2.2kg. Flushed with this success we continued back to camp and opened the nets as well as setting a few spring traps which very quickly produced a Magpie Shrike! Leaving the nets open, at dusk we put on calls of Southern White-faced owl, African Scops Owl and Pearl-spotted Owlet. Half an hour later we went to check the nets and found 2 pearl-spotted Owlets and a single S. White-faced Owl!

A bit later we went on a night drive and saw 2 Aardvark and tried to dazzle a Spotted Thick-knee, but the moon had come out.


First thing the potter traps produced a single Crested Francolin but the nets very quiet. Packed up and set off back to Johannesburg. In the fields on the way out we came across a Secretary Bird and at the dam found several Cape Vultures on a dead Kudu, one bird with a patagial tag which we were able to read with the scope.

First raptor of the day was another Greater Kestrel followed by 2 Pale-chanting Goshawk before arriving back at the site we had caught the 2 Brown Snake Eagles to find 2 birds.

We dropped for one on the high pylon which came in but was very slow on the trap and eventually flew back up to the pylon, just was not hungry enough. The second bird we drove off the road along a service track and got a trap down. It was fun watching the eagle as it took the bird 5 mins to spot the mice and immediately come in and onto trap.

The bird worked the trap much faster than the last and we had a 4th Brown! This was a second year bird at 1.9kg, ringed and released we set off only to find another Brown Snake Eagle 1km up the road which we dropped for and caught, 2 browns 20 mins apart!

This was another 2nd year at 2kgs which we were able to show a farmer and his wife the process of ringing the bird, always a good thing to be able to do.

Heading south we got another 2 PCG before we hit the motorway and headed back to town. All in all a great trip with a record 5 Brown Snake Eagles, 7 Pale-chanting Goshawk, 1 Dark Chanting Goshawk, 6 Black-shouldered Kites, 2 Greater Kestrels, 2 Pearl-spotted Owlet and a White-faced Owl, 24 raptors in total.

We counted a total of 14 Brown Snake Eagles and strangely only saw 3 Black-chested Snake Eagles, and usually by far the more commonly caught over the more wary Brown.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Limpopo and Soutpansberg

Limpopo Expedition 22nd to 28th May

Chris Sharpe

Kay Collister

Malcolm Wilson

I set off from Joberg with the usual menagerie of lures, mice, zebra finch and mealworms and associated traps.

Picked up Chris and Kay and headed north to the Limpopo camp.

We dropped for 2 Brown Snake Eagles on the way, neither showing much interest in the mice, but for the first time I actually managed to see a ring on one of the birds! After ringing 30 of these birds over the last few years this was the first time I had seen one with a ring on.

Got to camp and put up several nets and on the first net round took a great catch of a pair of Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongo, Meve’s Starlings, Crested Barbet, and Black-backed Puffback.

Next morning was even better, catching a whole flock of 5 White Helmet-shrikes, Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, a female Little Sparrowhawk turned up in the net, probably attracted to the many Laughing and ape Turtle Doves bashing in and out of the nets. Also got Marico Sunbird, and 8 Ashy Flycatchers!

Late morning we set off to find some Raptors and were halfway to the road on the bush track when we came across a large adult Lanner perched up in a dead tree. We set a Zebrafinch and mouse combo for it but after 15 mins of waiting decided it was probably full of Laughing Doves which it had been harassing on the nearby farm.

Managed to get 4 Pale-chanting Goshawk and filmed them on the trap using a bullet cam fixed to the trap, very cool. Got back early afternoon and opened the nets catching Brown Hooded Kingfisher and a Black-headed Oriole as well as a couple of White-browed Scrub-robin.

In the evening took a drive and dazzled a rufous morph Firey-necked Nightjar

Next morning caught a young Grey-headed Bush-shrike and my second ever Common Scimitarbill I had been baiting up a secluded spot with mashed corn and this finally paid off when I found a Natal Spurfowl in the potter trap!

Went for a Raptor Run late morning and found a Brown Snake Eagle on a pylon which when dropped for came in like a shot and onto the trap, must have been starving. Unfortunately the bird flipped the trap over when it got caught briefly and took off, but amazingly came back in again but onto the wrong side of the trap. Got another trap down for the bird and was caught but got off, very unlucky.

Managed to catch an adult Gabar Goshawk further on which came in like a shot for the zebrafinch. Spring-trapped 2 Lilac-breasted Rollers but the Purple Rollers were playing very hard to get despite dropping many times for them.

That evening we had a tape on for owls and were rewarded with a retrap Pearl-spotted Owlet which Chris had ringed in March 2006!


Set off early and first up caught a Greater Kestrel off of a pylon which I had ringed 8 months previously. Tried for a Brown Snake Eagle but too far. Came across an African Hawk Eagle which had just dropped off a pylon onto something. We waited and it came back up empty clawed! Got the trap down and it came in fairly quickly but was very wary of the trap, hovering over it and flying in and off onto a nearby tree to watch. We waited probably 30 mins until it eventually landed next to the trap where it eventually got caught.

It was a sub adult male in tits second year, very smart bird.

Dropped for an adult Black-chested Snake Eagle but was not having it, and then 2 Brown Snake Eagles together, neither of which showed any interest in the mice.

We put down a few miles now and arrived at the next site following a 3km 4x4 drive up into the Soutpansberg Mountains where we were greeted to the spectacle of a Peregrine mobbing a Verreaux’s Eagle! Got a few nets up before dark catching in the last hour, Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis and African Firefinch.

Next morning we heard Narina Trogon and Gorgeous Bushshrike calling close by the nets but very little movement. We caught Sombre Greenbul, Lemon Dove, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Lesser Honeyguide, Green Twinspot, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Green-backed Camaroptera.

We took a drive further up the mountain to the summit where we found breathtaking views and stands of flowering Aloes including Aloe vogtsii a Soutpansberg endemic.

We managed to locate a pair of Gurney’s Sugarbirds feeding in a stand of Proteas but the wind was too strong and had to leave it for today.

Had an amazing moment when we had four Verreaux’s Eagles in the air above us at once! Also had Lanner and Jackal Buzzards. We were on the lookout here for a particular special in the form of Taita Falcon which I have seen further to the west in this range, the farmer has seen it here.

Next morning the wind had dropped off to virtually nothing and so I was keen to get back up on top for a crack at the Sugarbirds. We opened the nets for an hour or so but it was slow, only new species were Striped Pipit and Lazy Cisticola.

Back on the top of the mountain we got a 60’ net in a gap between the Protea trees and set the ipod under it, then sat some 100m away to wait. It took about 30 mins before on bird flew fast straight out of the Proteas and into the net! Great little bird, such sharp claws and the face covered in purple protea nectar stains!

After another 30 mins we got another bird and comparing biometrics, decided the first was a male and the latter female.

We tried for a 3rd for Kay but only succeeded in catching the first bird again!

We tried taping for Long-billed Pipit which were in the area, but not interested.

Set off on the way back to Johannesburg the next morning, trying unsuccessfully for the numerous Black-shouldered Kites in the area, until finally we caught a juvenile bird.

Found a Rock Kestrel which we duly dropped for and caught, then found a juvenile Jackal Buzzard which obliged us by coming to the trap and getting caught despite a huge bulging crop full of road-killed Guineafowl! Tried for another Black-chested Snake Eagle which came in over the trap several times, until we eventually left it.

Spotted a Tawny Eagle just north of Polokwane which was good for this scarce species.

All in all a great week, 97 birds caught of 48 species.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Limpopo Raptor Weekend

Limpopo Autumn Raptor Run 8th to 10th April

Bruce Williamson and Malcolm Wilson

Set of early from Johannesburg to miss the traffic and soon got onto some back roads near Bela Bela. Most surprisingly there was a flock of 6 Amur Falcons between Pretoria and Bela Bela, very late for this species!

Soon found a Black Chested Snake Eagle hunting on the wing and tried to get a trap under it but with no success.

There was a good movement of Barn Swallows, zipping across the road in small groups in a Northerly direction. At Marakele National Park we spotted a young African Hawk Eagle soaring high up over the cliffs. Dropped for a Shikra and was not on the trap long enough before a vehicle flushed it off.

Now we were getting into dry thorn-bush country and started seeing many Lesser-Grey Shrikes with the odd Red-backed too. As well as these migrants there were European Rollers present with a count of 8 for the day.

We found a Pale-chanting Goshawk and duly caught it, a male by the size which took a 10mm ring. Not long after got a female, much larger which took a 12.5mm ring! Got to the Botswana border and carried on along the Limpopo river, spotted 2 Wahlberg’s Eagles and a count of 6 Black-chested Snake Eagles, but most interestingly saw 4 Brown Snake eagles together circling in a Westerly direction, not known as a migrant, more of a nomadic species as well as resident. Could be the all the recent rain we have had that has kept migrants in the area.

Dropped for 3 Brown Snake Eagles, never easy birds to tempt, but finally got one, a big adult bird of 2.2kgs.

Got to camp and made the fire to the chirps of African Scops Owl and in the morning Verreaux’s Eagle Owl!

Just after dawn a massive flock of European Bee-eaters moved slowly over camp, high up and heading north, at least 150 birds and among them were the odd House Martin. A woodland Kingfisher was calling as was an African Paradise Flycatcher, both Afro-tropical migrants. Had a look at the Limpopo river, wary of late returning Hippos, which was in full spate.

Leaving camp we spotted a few Amur Falcons and Lesser Kestrels hunting over the fields, so late, especially for the Lessers, must be the late rain.

Just then we spotted a Shikra on the fence and dropped a mouse. It soon spotted it and came in but over the trap, not entirely convinced! I quickly stuck a Zebra Finch in another trap and dropped it to where the bird had flown. Before we could get 10 yards clear the bird was on the trap in a flash! Helps to use the right lure!

A bit later we found a juvenile Lanner Falcon on a pylon and got a Zebra/mouse trap combo down and very soon the bird had seen the trap and dropped down in an impressive stoop. It first gave the trap a passing wallop and knocked it on its side! But the mouse part of the trap was ok. After several passes over the trap it landed next to it and we waited with hearts in mouths for it to make a decision! But it took ages and eventually a cyclist appeared from the other direction and flushed the bird, such a shame as it would surely have gone for the mouse.

Moving on we got another Shikra with the Zebra Finch / Mouse combo, no hesitation at all! Then on and spotted 3 Wahlberg’s Eagles together and 2 Black Chested Snake Eagles, quite a few birds about. Spotted a Dusky lark, another unusual Afro-tropical migrant. Got into an area now where Euro Rollers were common! Got a Dark-chanting Goshawk at lunchtime, passing many Pale-chanting Goshawks as we were targeting Snake Eagles and other less common species.

Not having a lot of luck in the area we headed back to camp and found a perched juvenile Black Chested Snake Eagle and got a trap down. The bird was hungry and came in immediately and got caught. A nice juv, in its second year, halfway into its post juvenile primary moult.

Back at camp we came across a Bronze Winged Courser but it was too light to dazzle it, tried anyway and got to 2m of the bird!

Set off back to Johannesburg :( and straight off came across a perched Brown Snake Eagle, but was not interested. A minute later we found a Black-Chested Snake Eagle and got a trap down, no hesitation and we had our 3rd Snake eagle! This was a 1st year juv with no primary moult yet and not done the body moult yet.

15 mins later found a Brown Snake-eagle on a pylon and dropped, waited for a while as one does with this species, but eventually it came in, ever wary, circling the trap and eventually on the trap and caught.

Now this bird was a monster!, not only huge (2.58kgs adult) but aggressive, biting for all it was worth! This species is nearly always quite docile in the hand, it must have been furious! By the time we released it I was bleeding and black and blue!

Onwards and tried for an adult African Hawk Eagle but flushed it when we dropped the trap. Tempted a Euro and Purple Roller to a Sombrero trap with a mouse in, but not caught.

Went through the town of Lephelele spotting a flock of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and were shocked to see the new and huge power station being built, along with the new Madupi coal mine, so much development since I was last here, quite depressing for such a tranquil and beautiful area.

We soon cheered up though when after 1 kilometre of leaving the shadow of Madupi we came across another Brown Snake Eagle, trap down and ‘in the bag’! a far more peaceful bird, a second year in its post juvenile moult and another big bird at 2.4kgs.

All up a very good catch of 11 birds, 10 raptors and a wader!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekend visit to the farm Groblersdal Limpopo SA 18th to 20th of March 2011

First evening got 3 nets up and got 5 Barn Swallow and 2 Marsh Warbler before closing.
Next morning opened at 0530 and got a Red-backed Shrike among bucket loads of Red-billed Quelea and Southern Masked Weavers. Got a retrap Southern Masked Weaver from October 07 which was good, also a couple of Willow Warblers, both just finished moult.

That afternoon, took a drive round the game farm in search of Steppe Buzzards and was very surprised to find a young African hawk Eagle sitting in a Merula tree. Managed to get a trap down against the fence and the bird came in at once, only to sit on the top strand of the fence above the trap! eventually it dropped down on the other side of the fence! Now what I thought, but the bird just climbed straight through the fence strands (100mm apart!) and onto the trap where it got caught!
It weighed 1.850kg and probably a female, ringed it and set it on its way.

Later on still driving round the game farm, came across a Steppe Buzzard which came in immediately and was caught. The bird was a second year.
In the afternoon managed to get quite a few Kurrichane Thrushes including a 2.5 year old retrap. Other retrap were a Fiscal Flycatcher from 2008 and a White-bellied Sunbird from 2004, making it 6.5 years old!
Getting 3 Brown-hooded Kingfishers on the trot was interesting and wonder if there was a bit of local or not so local movement.
Saw a Spotted Flycatcher on the fence a couple of times with a ring on, probably one of mine from 2 years ago being the last time I got them here.
Managed to call a Levaillant’s Cuckoo into the net area, but the thing was too wary as were a couple of Dideric Cuckoo, one even perching on the shelf string!
Saw a good thermal of 75 White Storks heading north with a couple of Steppe Buzzards among them. Also a hunting young Black-chested and a Brown Snake Eagle and a single White-backed Vulture.
Found a Genet in a tangle of vines in the tall Tambotie tree attracted many bulbuls and sunbirds.

1 African Paradise Flycatcher - 7 Cape White-eye - 5 Barn Swallow - 1 Lesser Striped Swallow - 2 Greater Striped Swallow - 1 Amethyst Sunbird - 2 White-bellied Sunbird –
1 Rattling Cisticola - 4 Willow Warbler - 3 Marsh Warbler - 1 Red-backed Shrike - 2 Black-cheeked Waxbill - 1 Cape Robinchat - 2 White-throated Robinchat - 2 Fiscal Flycatcher –
1 Cape Wagtail - 8 Dark-capped Bulbul - 8 Kurrichane Thrush - 1 White-fronted Bee-eater - 3 Brown-hooded Kingfisher - 1 Spectacled Weaver - 1 Steppe Buzzard –
1 African Hawk Eagle

Total 55 new birds and 5 retraps of 24 species

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Uganda Ringing Trip Report

Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi National Parks
18 Jan to 6th Feb

The Team;
Andrew Kingston
Debora Arlt
Karen Dixon
Nathan Eluku
Andre van Arken

The two main focal points on this trip were to initiate a bird monitoring research project at Sonso in Budongo Forest and to try and catch Grasshopper Buzzards in Murchison falls nat park. Sonso and the Budongo Forest Conservation Field Station has been a research facility for primarily Chimpanzees over the years and is a well established institution.
January is coming to the end of the dry season and the Grasshopper Buzzards are trans African migrants from the Sahel region possibly from West Africa and arrive in N Uganda in December through to March to coincide with the burning savannah along with Northern Carmine Bee-eaters and Abdims Storks.
We managed to catch and ring 22 Grasshopper Buzzards which was a great total.
In all at 4 different sites we ringed 577 new birds plus 34 retraps of 122 species.

To acclimatise we spent the first two days in and around Kampala at a fish ponds and in a friends wonderful garden full of sunbirds and Reed Warblers!

The highlights were getting a Black Crake, Shikra and Pied Kingfisher at the fishponds and Black Bishops, Brown Twinspots, Grey Woodpecker and Lizard Buzzard in the Garden, although I do like getting migrant warblers there!

We left for Sonso the research camp in Budongo Forest and on the way dropped a trap for an adult Western Banded Snake Eagle which landed on the trap, but got off.
Arrived in time to set 10 x 60’ nets along a transect line as well as putting 5 up in an area of Lantana camara scrub.
Before long we were busy with Brown Illadopsis and Brown-chested Alethes with chimpanzees creating a wonderful crescendo in the background.
Over the next few days we caught quite a variety of species some highlights were Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Jamison’s Wattle-eye, Red-tailed Ant-thrush, Western Black-headed Oriole, Grey-throated Tit Flycatcher and Fire-crested Alethe.
The lantana nets caught Plain-backed Pipit, Winchat, Garden Warbler, loads of Speckled Tinkerbirds and was quite gob-smacked to get a European Blackcap, rare for Uganda indeed and a first for Budongo Forest.

Over the days at Sonso we netted in 3 different sites in the forest and at the stream. Here we had an amazing time when setting a small double panel net over the water and caught a mix of 40 Black and White-headed Saw-wings. Then one evening I noticed a Sabine’s Spinetail come to drink and so set a net and caught 9 of these birds, biirds one only ever sees above the forest canopy and hardly if ever caught and ringed! It was so cool to finally get to se up close the Spines of a Spinetail!

My Trainee Nathan, decided to put a sneaky net up along a path next to the stream some way into the forest and what a net! After two rounds he had caught 4 species of Kingfisher! The magnificent Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Dwarf Kingfisher, both a West African Species just reaching east Africa in Uganda, 2 Pygmy Kingfishers and a Shining Blue Kingfisher!

Whilst sitting round the ringing table we were momentarily diverted when a troop of Chimps crossed the track not 50 metres away!
Nahan’s Francolin were calling and tried to pull them in with playback but they were having non of it!

We caught well at this new site and especially Eastern Forest Robins and a surprise Yellow-billed Barbet, an impressive bird.
The species accumulation curve had not levelled off yet! And new birds included White-tailed Ant-thrush, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Icterine Greenbul, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird and Rufus Flycatcher Thrush.

One afternoon we walked to a Crowned Eagles nest in a huge fig tree and spotted a juvenile sitting some way from the huge nest.
Searching the base of the tree directly underneath the nest we found several skulls of Tree Hyrax and several of either Black and White Colobus, Red-tailed or Blue Monkey.

Murchison Falls Nat Park
After a slap up breakfast in the Masindi Hotel, we drove north to the River Nile. On the way we stopped in a northern sector of the park to take a guide and look for Chimpanzees, two large groups were located and gave an unforgettable experience with big males displaying and buttress thumping, all quite impressive. We were soon out of the forest in bushy grassland and soon found our first Grasshopper Buzzards, we had 2 come to trap as well as 2 Dark-chanting Goshawk but very wary.
We first stopped at the top of Murchison Falls to see the great violent thundering cascade, named after a man who never set foot in Africa! (Murchison was head of the Royal Geographical Society and the falls were named in his honour by Samuel Baker).

First thing we took the ferry across the Nile to the North bank and bumped into Prof Derek Pomeroy from Makerere University and Paul Buckley of the RSPB who were about to conduct the annual waterfowl count here, whilst watching some 300+ African Skimmers doing their thing on the smooth surface.
The North bank is quite different to the south here and stretching away to the horizon was this beautiful Borassus palm savannah, which is classified as the Guinea-Somali Savannah and as such holds many species indicative of West Africa.
First off we dropped a trap for a Western-banded Snake Eagle but it took off. Then a Grey Kestrel, came in to inspect out mouse and gave up, then finally after an hour we got our first Grasshopper Buzzard. It was a cracking adult, such a handsome looking bird. We carried on and tried dropping for Tawny Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle and slowly built up a total of 7 Grasshopper Buzzards ringed.

Observations included Isabelline Wheatear, Caspian Plover, Yellow-billed Shrike and a troop of 20 Patas Monkeys, such beautiful creatures and interesting to see this terrestrial mammal out on the open savannah.

Later back at camp on the south bank we set 8 x 60’ and 2 x 40’ nets catching a few Reed Warblers, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Black-headed Gonolek and a Red-winged Grey Warbler, this latter species an indicator of the Northern Congolian Forest Savannah Mosaic biome.

Opening one morning I had an adult Standard-winged Nightjar fly over the net! Such a wonderful looking thing, looks like a large bird being chased by two smaller ones!
Of note we caught a Long-tailed Nightjar, African Moustached Warbler, Reed Warblers, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Spot-flanked Barbet, Whistling Cisticola and 6 Red-throated Bee-eater came to the ipod!

We would close nets late morning to go look for more Grasshopper Buzzards, once on the south bank. We found a good burn site and a few loafing birds and caught 2 Grasshopper Buzzards a Dark-chanting Goshawk and a Grey Kestrel. I also finally saw a White-fronted Black Chat here, an indicator of the Guinea – Somali savannah. One afternoon we took a boat ride down to the Nile delta where it flows into Lake Albert looking for the Holy Grail of birds, the Shoebill. We found two!

One morning we spent searching the delta area in the vehicle and struggled to find GB’s, no burnt grasslands here. Tried for 2 Brown Snake Eagles, Dark-chanting Goshawks, Grey Kestrels and an adult male Montague’s Harrier sitting in a bush which was interested in the mouse, but probably too full of grasshoppers to bother! Did see Isabelline Shrike, Greater-spotted Cuckoo, Rothchild’s Giraffe, Elephant, plenty of Oribi and Kongoni. No Lions, but we were not looking for them!

Leaving Murchison after 4 nights we crossed to the north and set off on a remote back track which ran East parallel to the Nile. Along here we cam across a Martial Eagle which we dropped for, but it had just killed and eaten a Banded Mongoose and although interested in the mice, was keen on seconds as the entire Mongoose pack were kicking up a dreadful fuss beneath the tree!.
We found plenty of GB’s and by late morning we had caught and ringed 12 including two at once! Many birds would come to trap and just sit and watch the mouse for ages, then another would hit the trap right away.

On the way back to Kampala we stopped and caught a Western-banded Snake Eagle and saw a Bat Hawk on the road up to the house where after 13 hours in the vehicle had a well earned beer!


We set off late morning after a session in the garden and took the very scenic road through Queen Elizabeth national park where we encountered a more than usual number of Long-crested Eagles and caught 3! Must be a big movement of rodents here as it too was burning in places. On the way we found a fig tree in the savannah with 3 sleeping Lions sprawled across the branches!

At Bwindi we stayed in the lodge and the following morning an expedition to see the Mountain Gorillas was made where 19 animals were encountered in a family, a truly memorable experience and well worth the 3 hours of climbing up into the forest. A National Geographic photographer was staying in the lodge and when we left, travelled together and managed to catch another Long-crested Eagle where he proceeded to take uncountable shots of the bird and it being ringed.
On the way back to Entebbe we tried for a Bateleur, Wahlberg’s Eagle and Grey Kestrel.

Species Totals
Long-crested Eagle 4
Western-banded Snake Eagle 1
Grasshoper Buzzard 22
Lizard Buzzard 1
Dark-chanting Goshawk 1
Grey Kestrel 1
Shikra 1
Black Crake 1
Red-eyed Dove 2
Mourning Dove 1
Black-billed Wood Dove 2
Blue-spotted Wood Dove 4
Long-tailed Nightjar 1
Red-throated Bee-eater 6
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater 1
White-throated Bee-eater 1
Blue-breasted Kingfisher 4
Pied Kingfisher 1
Shining-blue Kingfisher 1
Malachite Kingfisher 1
Dwarf Kingfisher 6
Pygmy Kingfisher 10
Sabine's Spinetails 9
Speckled Mousebird 2
Yellow-crested Woodpecker 1
Buff-spotted Woodpecker 1
Grey Woodpecker 1
Cardinal Woodpecker 1
Double-toothed Barbet 1
Yellow-billed Barbet 1
Spot-flanked Barbet 2
Speckled Tinkerbird 60
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird 2
Yellow-throated Tinkerbird 4
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird 7
Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo 4
Klaas's Cuckoo 1
Western Black-headed Oriole 1
Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike 1
Red-tailed Bristlebill 9
Red-tailed Ant Thrush 3
White-tailed Ant Thrush 4
Yellow-throated Leaflove 1
Little Greenbul 26
Yellow-whiskered Greenbul 6
Icterine Greenbul 2
White-throated Greenbul 13
Plain Greenbul 9
Dark-capped Bulbul 6
Fire-crested Alethe 17
Brown-chested Alethe 16
Brown Illadopsis 14
Scaly-breasted Illadopsis 7
Black-headed Gonolek 1
Brown-crowned Tchagra 2
Marsh Tchagra 1
Orange-breasted Bush-shrike 2
Northen Puffback 2
Rufous Flycatcher-thrush 3
Spotted Morning Thrush 2
Snowy-headed Robin-chat 4
White-browed Robin-chat 5
African Thrush 2
Eastern Forest Robin 18
Winchat 2
Brown-throated Wattle-eye 4
Black-headed Batis 3
Chestnut Wattle-eye 1
Jamison's Wattle-eye 1
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher 5
RB x AP Flycatcher Hybrid 3
Grey Throated Tit-flycatcher 5
Dusky Crested Flytcatcher 1
Plain-backed Pipit 2
Lesser-striped Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 11
White-headed Saw-wing 18
Black Saw-wing 22
European Reed Warbler 9
E Olivaceous Warbler 1
Garden Warbler 2
European Blackcap 1
Willow Warbler 2
Green Hylia 4
Red-winged Grey Warbler 1
Grey-backed Camaroptera 13
Olive-green Camaroptera 1
Grey-capped Warbler 3
African Moustached Warbler 1
Red-faced Cisiticola 2
Rattling Cisticola 1
Whistling Cisticola 1
Tawny-flanked Prinia 2
Northen Crombec 2
Af Yellow White-eye 3
Yellow-breasted Apalis 1
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow 1
Village Weaver 1
Spectacled Weaver 1
Viellot's Weaver 1
Black-necked Weaver 3
Yellow-backed Weaver 1
Black Bishop 2
Red-billed Quelea 1
Red-headed Bluebill 2
Brown Twinspot 2
Green Twinspot 1
Red-billed Firefinch 3
Bronze Mannikin 5
Black and White Mannikin 5
Black-rumped Waxbill 3
Fawn-breasted Waxbill 1
Green-headed Sunbird 3
Olive Sunbird 6
Olive-bellied Sunbird 20
Red-chested Sunbird 4
Beautiful Sunbird 4
Variable Sunbird 3
Green-throated Sunbird 1
Scarlet-chested Sunbird 6
Collared Sunbird 3
Purple-banded Sunbird 5