Shoebill Birding In Uganda
When it comes to birding in Uganda, shoebill storks are some of the interesting bird species majority of birders come to look for in prime Birding Destination of Uganda. Uganda alone is home to about 1057 bird species making it an ideal birding destination and a preferred shoebill stork photographer’s location in Africa. Uganda counts 50% of Africa’s bird species counts and 11% of the world’s count of bird species therefore this makes number one birding destination in east Africa, Africa and world because its high number of bird species with some good number of endemic bird species
Shoebill storks are among the unique and endangered species of birds in Africa and each year attracts photographers, bird lovers, filmmakers and production companies across the world. Uganda boasts as a stronghold of shoebill storks in East Africa, most of which thrive mostly in the various habitats- lakes, rivers, and swamps. Other than shoebill storks, Uganda still hosts different kinds of storks including open-billed storks, saddle-billed stork, yellow-billed stork, marabou stork- which filmmakers can conduct production film on while on bird photographing, filming safari in Uganda–The Pearl of Africa
Where to go for photographing, filming and watching shoebill storks in Uganda?
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
Located in Entebbe, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) is home to a variety of wildlife and bird species which are endemic or about to get extinct including shoebill storks. This makes it an ideal spot for photographing, filming the elusive shoebill storks in Uganda. From Entebbe Airport to UWEC is 15-minutes’ drive away making it one of the most accessible shoebill photographing and filming locations. Additionally, filmmakers or companies can also film a variety of other wildlife, and what you ought to have included media accreditation among others.
Makanaga Swamp Bay
Makanaga Swamp Bay is newly discovered spot for elusive shoebill stork located on Lake Victoria our Africa’s freshwater lake is home to significant shoebill storks in Uganda. The swamp bay is reachable from Kampala/Entebbe on a canoe/boat ride or you can drive by road along the kampala Masaka highway from Entebbe or Kampala and branch from Kamengo In Mpingi and this takes over 1 hour drive or one and half according to the traffic jam and on reaching this swamp you use the canoe boat to access the swamp. It offers amazing shoebill stork views plus a variety of other water species of birds worth filming and photographing. Shoebill tour to Makanaga Swamp begins early morning on a boat with an experienced guide.
Murchison Falls National Park
The largest Uganda safari national park park is home not only a big game but also to a significant number of shoebill storks and over 45o species of birds with both water birds and savanna birds. Majority of the shoebills in Murchison Falls national park range along the Albert Delta with incredible sights attainable from January, February to March.
Murchison Falls National park is home to 450 bird species and choosing it as your preferred shoebill photographing and filming location is a great chance to also a range of other bird species. The park protects other special birds such as Abyssinian ground hornbills, red-throated bee-eaters, papyrus gonoleks, grey crowned cranes, giant kingfishers, northern red bishop, swamp flycatchers, squacco heron, goliath herons, secretary bird, African fish eagle, African pied kingfisher, malachite kingfisher
Besides birds, the 3840sq.kms national park also shelters a variety of wildlife including solitary cape buffaloes, African elephants, Nile crocodiles, leopards, lions, warthogs, the Rothschild giraffes, hippos, and primates like chimps, blue monkeys, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, colobus monkeys, and others.
Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park, found in the far Western side of Uganda shelters about 442 bird species and commonly known as true birders paradise including shoebill storks making it one of the outstanding shoebill birding destinations in the Pearl of Africa. On shoebill photographing and filming in Semuliki National Park, filmmakers or production companies stand a great chance to film several other birds such as piping hornbill, swamp palm bulbul, black dwarf hornbill, great black casqued wattled hornbill, Ross’s turacos, red-billed dwarf, and African piculet.
There are also several leaf love birds, white-throated blue swallow, bates’s nightjars, white-tailed robin chat, Sabine’s spine tail, piping hornbill, white-crested hornbills, blue-billed malimbe, red thighed sparrow hawk, yellow-throated nicator and more.
Mabamba is amazingly one of the best shoebill stork spots for photographing and filming Uganda prides itself of. The vast swamp lies on Lake Victoria and it is accessible from Entebbe on a canoe ride. With your birding equipment, shoebill storks are the highlight of your filming tour on Mabamba Swamp Wetland. A total of 320 bird species are inhabited on Mabamba Wetland and they include 7 threatened species plus 12 Lake Victoria biome restricted species of birds.
On filming safari on Mabamba Wetland, other birds to film besides shoebills include pied kingfishers, black-billed turacos, dusky long-tailed cuckoo, hairy breasted barbets, black-headed herons, African open billed storks, malachite kingfisher, grey parrot, papyrus gonoleks, swamp flycatchers, and more.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park isn’t only popular for tree climbing lions but also for elusive shoebill storks and other varied bird species that total up to 600. This makes Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda’s second-largest park an ideal shoebill filming location. The other special birds the park shelters and can be filmed include swamp flycatchers, grey-headed kingfishers, white-winged terns, pied kingfishers, slender tailed nightjars, African skimmers, black-headed gonoleks, Verreaux’s eagle owl to mention but a few.
Lake Mburo National Park
Situated in Western Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park is interestingly one of the best shoebill filming spots. The park houses a good number of bird species- 351 including shoebill storks plus other species of birds such as emerald spotted wood doves, trilling cisticola, red-necked spurfowl, cheeky bronze tailed starling, Nubian woodpeckers, and more
When to visit Uganda for shoebill watching, photographing and filming
Shoebill filming and photographing in Uganda is open all year-round but the traditional best months or time of the year is during the wet season. This is when several migratory bird species can also be spotted and it is the breeding period for most birds. The wet or rainy season runs from March to May and October to November. However, there is high possibility to conduct a shoebill safari even during the dry season- from June to September, December to February.