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    • Atravelynn
      They are an exceptional organization.
    • Atravelynn
      Samburu was very kind to you and the 5 Specials all showed!  You can see lions elsewhere.  I was thinking that Martial Eagle could be a threat to the cheetah cubs.  Were they close or far apart?  I thought the cheetah cubs also looked slight.  But in looking at the cubs and the mother, they all seem to have a more delicate structure and facial features.  I really thought I could see some family resemblance, if that is possible!
    • Atravelynn
      The birding opportunities and photos crescendoed as your trip concluded!  You have a great photo collection here!
    • adamt123
      thanks @Atdahl- I have learnt my lesson with the cameras and a back up is now a must!    yes the shoebill sighting(s) were indeed superb - i guess thats what it means to be lucky.   I certainly hope one day - whenever you are comfortable - Uganda might be a nice option to consider for you too 
    • Atdahl
      Geez, you uploaded so fast my reply is now at the end of you report...LOL!  You're too quick!   Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this report.  We consider ourselves generalists as well with mammals and reptiles leading the way and birds close behind.  So, I really enjoyed all the photos you took and the well rounded report.  Uganda is now on my list and I need to look into it more once we feel comfortable with international travel again.   Thanks for posting your experiences, your report will be a great help to many out here.   Alan
    • Atdahl
      @adamt123We certainly do share some of the same gear.  I Love my D500.  The D7100 is my backup now and so far I haven't needed it.  I think most of the folks on this forum take backup gear "just in case".  In fact, my D500 and 200-500mm survived a fall down a few stairs in Borneo a few years back and they all still work to this day!   That was really lucky.   Now, back to your report.  The shoebill shots are stunning!  I can't believe it hung around so long especially with multiple boats.  That's a great encounter.   Alan
    • adamt123
      Day 11   Mabamba Swamp Two   We decided we wanted to visit Mabamba Swamp again because we felt we hadn’t gone deep enough into the heart of the swamp yesterday and that we could today focus on the area’s other wildlife and not just the shoebill. We informed our guide of exactly this, but I don’t think he really understood our request. I’ve been to Mabamba three times and this guide was definitely the worst – to start with he was on his phone for half the time and paid very little attention to our requests to go deeper into the swamp except at the end of the trip.    We started off with a Nile Crocodile basking right in the middle of the swamp – not sure how frequently these turn up here but based on the reaction of other boats and even our guide, I don’t think there’re an everyday sighting. We also had another Shoebill which we really were not looking for but oh well – I guess some of that Bwindi luck must have been following us@Atravelynn  Just as we arrived at the shoebill it was swallowing a lungfish – we must have missed by kill by half a minute.    Nile Crocodile     Shoebill           We also had many sightings of yesterday’s other birds – Intermediate Egret, Purple Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant, Little Egret, African Jacana Swamp Flycatcher and African Marsh Harrier. Species we didn’t get yesterday also showed, notably abundant Blue-breasted Bee-eaters, and Winding Cisticolas, Squacco Herons, Yellow-billed Ducks, Black Crake and Long-toed Lapwing too.     Malachite Kingfisher     African Marsh Harrier       Purple Heron   Blue-breasted Bee-eater     Squacco Herons   Yellow-billed Duck    Cattle Egret   Long-toed Lapwing        African Jacana   When we finally managed to get our guide to go into the narrower channels of the swamp we were rewarded with a pair of shy African Swamphens - just the sort animal we were looking to end the trip off on. The ride back to Entebbe was extremely bumpy with canoe being almost tossed among the crashing waves; we made it though, albeit a bit wet.   African Swamphen         -    Concluding Remarks   Overall, we had an amazing time in Uganda. The trip was characterized by so many fantastic bird and mammal sightings as well as stunning forest and savannah landscapes. I really like Uganda as a slightly more atypical safari destination. I think it perfectly combines the classic safariing experience at Lake Mburo, QENP and Murchison Falls with primate and bird watching at Kibale, Bwindi and of course, Semliki. For us Lake Mburo was an unexpected highlight, the enigmatic Semliki captured our hearts, Bush Lodge was an absolute delight and all the other places – Kibale, QENP, Ishasha, Bwindi and Entebbe – were highly enjoyable too. Mamaland were also great and as I hope is very clear throughout this report, we really couldn’t have asked for better guides than Paul and Alfred – shoutout to Hamza too for organizing everything so well.   Despite the lens trouble I think most of the photos came out nicely and I think might just be tempted to use MF more often in some situations. However, both the Canon G3X and Topaz Sharpen AI were vital in making this trip a success in terms of photography. Just as an endnote I do want to apologize if some of the photos look overly grainy or with over saturated blues and greens – they looked fine when I edited them but upon uploading they appear to have changed a bit.   I’ve kept these remarks brief and I hope this report has proved a fun read. I recognize here that the pace has been a bit fast and I apologize for not taking more time earlier to write it up, rather than writing this sentence with a flight to Johannesburg in a few hours. I have nonetheless tried to provide a through picture of our experience and I hope this report has met the high standards of readers. I also apologize for any typos and welcome questions.    The End      
    • adamt123
      Mabamba Swamp One   I had instructed Mamaland that we specifically wanted our Mabamba swamp trip to be by boat transfer to/from the Kigungu landing site just south of Entebbe airport. We had had our Mabamba trip from here the first time we came to Uganda and the boat ride was a very pleasant alternative to driving all the way to the main swamp then getting into a small canoe. Rather, this way we would ride in a larger canoe across Lake Victoria for about 45m then get into a small canoe when we got to the swamp. Our departure was slightly delayed this morning because heavy winds had made the Lake Victoria transfer unsafe in the early morning. However, we were soon on our way and a couple of noteworthy sightings right at Kigungu were a very confiding Hammerkop and the trip's sole Speckled Pigeon too.    Hammerkop   Speckled Pigeon   Enroute     We got to Mabamba and were taken straight to the Shoebill which was about a further 5 minutes into the swamp. It was as easy as that! There were a few other canoes and our guide mentioned there hadn’t been a sighting in the last two days. The sighting was excellent – totally unobscured and only a few metres from us.    Shoebill                   We were the first canoe to leave the shoebill as I felt with four boats it was getting a bit crowded – of course if the shoebill felt uncomfortable it could have flown away but it seemed to be fine. As well as the shoebill this visit provided views of the usual Mabamba suspects - Blue-headed Coucal, Purple Heron, Barn Swallow, Intermediate Egret, African Jacana, Reed Cormorant, Swamp Flycatcher, Little Egret, Red-knobbed Coot, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher and Northern Brown-throated Weaver. My favourite shot was probably of a low flying Grey-headed Gull, though the star sighting after the shoebill was a handsome African Marsh Harrier which have prolonged views.    Little Egret     Purple Heron   Intermediate Egret   Red-knobbed Coot   Pied Kingfisher     Malachite Kingfisher   Northern Brown-throated Weaver   Grey-headed Gull    African Marsh Harrier      
    • adamt123
      Day 10   Today we spent the morning at Mabamba Swamp and the afternoon at Entebbe Botanic Gardens. The next day we went back to Mabamba Swamp as we had the time for an extra short visit before our flight home. This was arranged through Hamza at very short notice. Most shoebill tours go in the morning, but our second visit was in the afternoon but this wasn’t an issue at all. By now the memory on the SD cards for the D500 was running out so I had no option but to switch to the D4 and its compact flash. The photos from Entebbe Botanic Gardens and the second Mabamba visit are therefore from the D4 and the those from the first Mabamba visit still from the D500. I’m going to change the order here slightly and write about the gardens first then the two visits to Mabamba.    Entebbe Botanic Gardens   Located a short taxi drive from the Protea the botanic gardens offer a nice introduction to Uganda birding. I have visited before and I think the place is certainly worth a quick visit if time allows. Last time we saw Tantalus monkeys and unstriped ground squirrel here though this time we had no luck with the mammals. Birding was still very good and we  had excellent views of lots of the common birds including Cattle Egret, Common Bulbul, African Thrush, Woodland Kingfisher, Eastern Plantain-eater, Egyptian Goose, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill and Red-eyed Dove.    Red-eyed Dove   Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill     Eastern Plantain-eater     African Thrush     Closer to the lakeshore many waterbirds and raptors were also around; we saw Palm-nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Yellow-billed Kite, Pied Kingfisher, Striated Heron, Black-headed Heron, African Openbill and Hadada Ibis. We also had a Little Banded Goshawk but the photo is terrible; the surrounding Crowned Hornbills were  much more obliging though.    African Fish Eagle   Hooded Vulture   Striated Heron   Crowned Hornbill   From the smaller birds we were afforded our final views of Madagascar Bee-eater, Splendid Starling, Speckled Mousebird, Northern Black Flycatcher and quite a few Scarlet-chested Sunbirds. In the thicker forest part of the gardens Green Crombec and multiple Little Greenbuls showed well as well as a lone Black-and-white Mannikin and our sole African Pygmy Kingfisher of the trip. African Grey Parrots also flew overhead but views weren’t great.    Scarlet-chested Sunbird   Green Crombec     Little Greenbul    Black-and-white Mannikin   African Pygmy Kingfisher    In the clearings we enjoyed watching a family of Great Blue Turacos singing and cackling as the sun set – at last a good sighting of these majestic birds. African Green Pigeon, White-browed Coucal and soaring Pink-backed Pelican also showed nicely. Just to add on at the Protea we saw more Yellow-billed Kites, Common Bulbuls and Pied Kingfishers as well as Northern Brown-throated Weavers and African Pied Wagtails.    Pink-backed Pelican     African Green Pigeon   Great Blue Turaco           Entebbe Botanic Gardens   Protea Entebbe      
    • adamt123
      thanks @Atdahl- I see we have similar taste in cameras - before my D500 I used a D7100 which I managed to smash in Kenya in 2019 - clearly I don't have the best luck with photography equipment 
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