This Park is the oldest Park established in 1926 and also the largest Protected Area in Uganda covering an area of 3840 square kilometers. This spectacular park is situated in North-western Uganda (on the Northern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley), and forms part of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area consisting of Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserve, the Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and this enormous park.
Besides the Magnificent Murchison Falls and four of the Big five animals (Elephants, Buffaloes, Leopards and Lions) that it is known for, this National Park is also an important Bird Area (IBA) in Uganda with the main bird species being the elusive shoebill stork (listed under the vulnerable species under IUCN Red List), Uganda’s National Bird-The Grey Crowned Crane and the World’s largest Heron specie-the Goliath Heron. Do not visit this Park only for the game drives and launch cruise, but get to see some of the breathtaking bird species. There are 460 bird species that call the park their home. The different vegetation zones/environments including the Savanna and Riverine/swamps that characterize this park also harbor unique bird species.
One of the interesting bird viewing point in this park is the Nile Banks where you will encounter remarkable species of birds including the Speckle-fronted Weaver, the African Jacana, African Quail-Finch, Black-billed Barbet, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Weaver Birds, Giant Kingfishers, Swamp Flycatcher, Piapiac, Silver bird, Black-headed Gonolek, Sandpipers, the Blue-headed Coucal, Malachite Kingfishers, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Denham’s Bustard, Red-throated Bee-eater, Pied Kingfisher, and Squacco Heron. You will also be able to sight the aquatic birds, the Albertine Rift Endemics and Savanna forest birds like the Open-billed Storks, the Widow Bird, Secretary Birds, Marabou Stork, Black-bellied Bustards and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill during boat/launch cruise and game drives.
The thickets and woodlands near the River Nile harbor fascinating bird species such as the Flycatchers, the geese, Giant Kingfishers, Crombecs, Warblers, Shrikes, Swallow-tailed bee-eaters (mostly on the Nyamusika Cliffs), Hammerkop, Woodpeckers, Red-throated Bee-eaters (mostly found on the Nyamusika Cliffs), plovers, Grey heron, Malachite Kingfishers, Hornbills, ducks and Cuckoos.
Other notable bird species tourists are likely to encounter include the African Darter, Abdim’s stork, White-faced whistling duck, Saddle-billed Stork, ring-necked francolin, Yellow-billed Stork, Osprey, Dark chanting Goshawk, Vaseline masked weaver, Martial eagles, Hugli’s Francolin, Denham’s Bustard, Spotted thick-knee, Long-toed plover, Senegal thick-knee, yellow-bellied hyliota, Sacred Ibis, Rock pratincole, Black-headed plover, Black-billed wood dove, parasitic weaver, pennant-winged nightjar, Bar-breasted firefinch, Veracious Dove, Long-tailed Nightjar, Spur-winger geese, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Blue-naped moosebird, Giant Kingfisher, Heuglin’s masked weaver, White-browned Sparrow weaver, Pied Kingfisher, Verreaux’s Eagle owl, Malachite kingfishers, orange- winged pytilia, Brown-rumped bunting, Blue-napped Mousebird, Chestnut-crowned sparrow weaver, African crake, Swallow-tailed bee-eater, Marsh Tchagra, Red throated bee-eater, bronze-tailed glossy starling, Black Crake, standard winged nightjars, Northern Carmine bee-eater, Black scimitarbill, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, black-backed Cisticola, Blue-naped moosebird, White-rumped seed-eater, Yellow fronted Tinkerbird, Black-billed barbets, White fronted black-chat, Silverbird, Piapiac, Speckle-fronted weaver, Speckle-breasted woodpecker, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Black-faced waxbill, Fawn-breasted waxbill, Sulphur-breasted bush shrike, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-lored babbler, Eastern grey Plantain-eater, Whistling Cisticola, Yellow-throated greenbul, Double-toothed barbet, Grey-headed Gondola, standard-winged nightjar, Black-headed Batis, Red-winged Grey warbler, Northern Crombec, Spotted morning thrush.
The magnificent Budongo Forest which is also part of Murchison Falls national Park is a home to most forest birds, especially Busingiro and Kaniyo-Pabidi sections offer the most spectacular bird watching points. Some of the interesting bird species within Budongo forest include the tourists’ favorite-the ituri batis, the fascinating illadopses such as the Puvel’s Illadopsis, Nahan’ Francolin, skulking Alethe, Xavier’s greenbul, Black-shouldered nightjar, African Greenbuls, chocolate-backed kingfisher, crested francolin and the incredible Madagascar lesser cuckoo.
Tourists who are planning to take a birding safari in Uganda are advised to carry binoculars, backpack, cameras and enough drinking water. The bets time to vist this beautiful National park for bird watching is the rainy season from March to May and September to November because it is the breeding season, hence you are likely to encounter large numbers of bird species.
How to Reach Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is found about 396 kilometers/5-6 hours drive from Kampala and is accessible by both air and road transport. The commonly used route to access this Park is Kampala-Masindi then to the Park through Kichumbayobo gate or Lake Albert side.
Besides the magnificent Murchison waterfalls and remarkable wildlife species including four of the Big Five animals (lions, leopards, elephants and Buffaloes), this Park is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and a home to over 460 bird species that make it a favorite bird watcher’s Paradise.