Birds in Murchison Falls National Park
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Besides wildlife, Murchison Falls National Park is a birders paradise. The varying environments that characterize the park ranging from forest to savannah and swamps (riverine) are rich habitats for thriving of a wide range of bird species. The Park contains the most sought after bird by birders on birding safaris in Uganda named the shoe bill stork which is a prehistoric bird and listed as Vulnerable under IUCN Red list. The park also contains the grey crowned crane which is the Uganda’s National bird along with Goliath heron which is the largest heron in the whole world.
The Nile banks also contain a range of other species including; the Blue-headed Coucal, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Swamp Flycatcher, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Weaver Birds, Pied Kingfisher, Piapiac, Silver bird, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, African Quail-Finch, Red-throated Bee-eater and Speckle-fronted Weaver.
Shoebill: The shoe bill is also called the whale head bird given its large shoe shaped bill. The shoe bill has a height ranging from 110-140cm or 43-55in with also a body length of 100- 140cm or 39-55in and a wingspan 230-260cm or 7ft7in-8ft6in. the male shoe bill is larger than its female counterparts with male having an average weight of 5.6kg or 12Ib while the females weigh 4.9kg or 11Ib. The shoe bill can be distinctively identified by its signature large bulbous bill that has greyish markings on it. this bill has a length of 18.8-24cm or 7.4-9.4in measured along the upper mandible. The shoe bill mandible is very hard as it is made out of keratin and it has sharp edges which enable this bird to decapitate its prey.
The shoe bill also has long dark legs that have 21.7-25.5cm of length with large feet as its middle toe can measure up to 16.8-18.5cm or 6.6-7.3in. and this enables to stand on water vegetation when it goes fishing. Adult shoe bills have a blue grey color with darker slaty grey flight feathers. The shoe bill stock is not known for flying long distances as it usually flies between 100-500m or 330-1640ft when flashed or scared. Their wings are highly adapted to soaring and they have low flap rate that can only go up to 150 flaps per minute. The shoebill has a lifespan of about 35 years in their natural habitat. Both male and female shoe bill participate in nest building, incubation and chick rearing. Their incubation period is 30 days and usually lay between 1-3 eggs per mating season. All these and more can be seen during both game drive and launch trips in Murchison falls.
Attractions in Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls national park has a myriad of attractions and these include: Murchison falls, over 3000 African elephants, largest concentration of Nile crocodiles, lions that are occasionally sighted, a variety of antelope species, Africa’s tallest mammals the giraffes, primates like chimpanzees and monkeys and a bird species count of over 400
Activities in Murchison Falls National Park.
Murchison falls offers a variety of activities to guests that visit and these include game drives, white water rafting, chimpanzee tracking, bird watching, boat cruise or launch trips, nature walks, hot air ballooning and community encounters but for any of these activities to be conducted a park entrance fee has to be paid at any of the park offices and this fee is 40$ foreign nonresidents adults while children 20$, 30$foreign residents adults while children 10$, 20000ugx east African citizens adults while children 5000ugx, 5000 local university students and high school students and 3000ugx for local primary pupils.
Accessing Murchison falls park.
This park can be accessed using both road and air transport.
With road transport, there are three main routes that are used;
Kampala- Masindi-through Kichumbayobo gate. This route is approximately 305 km or 5 hours’ drive. This passes through the Kaniyo and Padibi forests to paraa. This is the shortest route to the park.
Kamapala- Masindi through Bugungu gate. This route is approximately 400km or 6.5 hours’ drive. This route offers a view of the escarpment of the western arm of the great east African rift valley and also lake albert can be viewed on your to Paraa.
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