Size: 370 sq km
Elevation: 1220 to 1828m above sea level
Bird Species Recorded: 317 species
Habitat: Moist Acacia savanna, taller mixed wood land, aquatic habitat including lakes and papyrus swamps, grassland, rocky ridges.
Lake Mburo National Park is dominated by tall grass savanna dotted with Acacia and Euphorbia trees. Dense thorn thickets occur along the watercourses. The park contains an extensive area of wetland, harbors several species of mammals and a great bird population. Its sculptured landscape with rolling grassy hills and idyllic lakeshores has a varied mosaic of habitats ranging from forest galleries; rich acacia tree valleys, to seasonal and permanent swamps, which all support a wealth of wildlife.
Birding in Lake Mburo, Uganda.
Common conspicuous birds encountered whilst driving towards Rwonyo Camp, the park headquarters include; Crested Francolin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Arrow-marked Babler, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away-bird. Blue-napped and Speckled Mousebird, Lilac-breasted and Broad-billed Roller, and Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, African Grey Hornbill, Spot-flanked Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Trilling Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Northern Black Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Greater Blue-eared Starling and Marico sunbird. The woodland in the immediate vicinity of Rwonyo also supports many of these widespread species and others.
The more open grassland North of the camp, particularly along the Zebra Track, is worth exploring for species such as Coqui Francolin, Red-necked Spur fowl, Black-bellied Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, African Wattled Plover, Rufous-naped and Lapped Larks, Rufous-chested Swallow, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Southern Red Bishop. Small numbers of the migratory Brown-chested Plover are regularly observed. Check the grassland around the Mirllti Valley trail. The impressive Northern Ground Hornbill is another rare visitor of these grasslands. Spot lighting along the entrance road (request per-mission from park head quarters) may produce interesting Nocturnal species such as African Scops Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and Fiery-necked, White-tailed and Pennant-winged Nightjars.
The Kyempitsi trail allows access to aquatic habitats around Lake Mburo. The swamp along the Lake is good to look for some of the Papyrus Gonolek vocalize from the papyrus North of here in the morning and respond readily to tape recordings. The elusive Shoebill may also be observed but is irregular in the park. There are a few more places further along the “lakeside trail” where the road passes lose to the papyrus.
The idyllic Lakeside campground is one of the best places in Uganda to see African Finfoot. Scan for this spectacular bird around the edges of the lake at dawn and dusk. Other species to look for here include African Darter, Water Thicknee, Hamerkop, African Water Rail, Spur-winged Plover, the Giant, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers, and Yellow-throated Leaflove the latter in dense, waterside thickets.
Continue on to the Kigambira Loop, which traverses a variety of productive habitats. Taller, mixed woodland in this area is home to the park’s most sought-after bird, the localized Red-faced Barbet. Scan tall Euphorbia trees for this species. Black-collared Barbet, common and widespread elsewhere in Africa, is also present here but scarce. Other interesting birds to watch for in this moist woodland include Long tailed warbler, Red-headed Lovebird, Narina Trogon, Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Green-capped Eremomela and the Black Cuckoo-shrike.
A surprisingly large number of raptors occur in this relatively small park. Amongst the 35 species recorded is African White-backed, Reppell’s Griffon, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures, African Marsh Harrier, Black-chested, Brown and Banded Snake Eagles, Bateleur, African Harrier Hawk, Shikra, Gabar and Dark Chanting Goshawks, Lizard and Augur Buzzards, African Fish, Tawny, Steppe, African Hawk, Long-crested and Martial Eagles and the Grey Kestrel.