Visit the Mabamba Wetland and Swamp for Birding Experience
Mabamba Wetland and Swamp is one of Uganda’s incredible 33 Important Bird Areas, found on the edge of Lake Victoria within the north-western part of the Entebbe Peninsula. This wetland stretches for about 24 square kilometers through a narrow and long bay surrounded by lush papyrus towards the main body of the Lake. Besides dense marshes of Papyrus, Mabamba wetland is also characterized by water lilies in addition to other beautiful wetland vegetation.
Due to Mabamba’s beauty and significance, it was designated a Ramsar-listed wetland of International Importance (as Mabamba Bay Wetland System) since 15th September 2006. It is one of the best places in the country to see the globally-threatened shoebill storks (scientifically referred as Balaeniceps rex) in addition to over 40% of the global population of Blue swallow and Papyrus yellow warblers. Talking of shoebill storks, there are less than 20 of them in Mabamba Wetland because they are always killed by fishermen for superstitious reasons because they are believed to bring bad omen hence poor fish catch. They are therefore hunted and killed making them extinct and numbers drastically dropping.
Other Bird Species in Mabamba Wetland
As earlier mentioned, Mabamba Wetland is a Ramsar site of International Importance and one of Uganda’s 33 Important Bird Areas hosting over 300 species of birds. Of these birds, there are 7 of the 12 Lake Victoria Biome species as well as flocks of Palearctic migrants between the months of November and March. The notable bird species here are Squacco herons, white-winged warblers, African jacana, Goliath herons, lesser jacana, white-faced whistling duck, African Pygmy Goose, Pallid harrier, swamp flycatcher. Blue breasted bee-eaters, yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, pink-backed pelicans, Glossy ibis, yellow-billed ducks, Hadada ibis, Pied wagtail, Pied Kingfisher, Purple herons, Great blue Turaco, Malachite Kingfishers, Red-eyed doves, Little egrets, Great Cormorant, White-winged terns, Gull-billed terns, Black crakes, Winding Cisticola, Ross Turaco, Hammerkop, Marsh Harrier, Eastern grey plantain-eater, common sandpiper, Spur-winged lapwing, Grey woodpecker, Cattle egrets, Black-winged stilt, Tambourine Dove, village weavers, Great cormorant, African Hoopoe, Great white pelicans, Common Bulbul, Grey parrots, Swamp-faced whistling ducks, Long-tailed cormorant, Orange weavers, Double-toothed barbets, Pin-tailed Whydah and many others.
Best time to visit Mabamba wetland and Swamp
Tours of Mabamba wetland can be undertaken all year round much as the dry season is usually preferred because water levels are lower and vegetation is shorter hence easy to spot the shoebill storks (the highlight of Mabamba tours). These months include January, February, June, July, August, September and December but with effects of climate change, rain can be experienced in traditional dry months hence always be prepared. The best time of the day to see shoebill storks is early morning when fishing activity is still low.
What to carry for Mabamba wetland trips
Before you embark on tours of Mabamba wetland, make sure that you are braced with Comfortable clothing (especially short-sleeved shirt/blouse, safari pants (although shorts can also do), rain jacket, waterproof backpack, protective cover for your camera, good camera with extra batteries and enough memory space, hut, sunscreen, enough drinking water, pair of binoculars, snacks, bird guidebook and many others.
How to reach Mabamba wetland and Swamp
There are two ways to get to Mabamba wetland-water by hiring a speed boat from Entebbe, lasting about 45 minutes to the main meeting point of the wetland.
Another way is by road trip from Entebbe or Kampala to Mabamba wetland via Kasanje Trading Center and this lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. It is faster when you first opt for ferry crossing from Entebbe to Kasanje Landing Site then embark on a 20-minute drive to the wetland via verdant farmlands where numerous bird species will be encountered.
The main process of exploring this wetland is by canoe ride whereby you will meet a local canoe boat for start your birding adventure.