THE BEST PLACE TO SEE SHOEBILL STOKS IS IN THE MABAMBA SWAMPS!
The Mabamba Swamps west of Entebbe is one of the best and most convenient places to see the elusive Shoebill in its natural habitat. After a few minutes in a small canoe, the papyrus reeds opens up into a flat grassy wetland where some Shoebill can regularly be seen with luck. The bird is best looked for in the morning when they stalk their main prey, the mudfish or frogs, but may be spotted all day. They may stand still for long periods awaiting the movements of their prey and then suddenly strike with a marvellous speed.
Recently, Mabamba has become one of the strongholds for the migrant Blue Swallow with over 100 individuals recorded every year. Mabamba has been surveyed in recent years and now boosts of over 260 bird species. Visits confirmed the presence of flocks of other species especially migrants such as Gull-billed Terns, White-winged Black Terns and Whiskered Terns, and residents such as Grey-headed Gulls. Other interesting species found in the marsh include reasonable numbers of Goliath Herons, Spur-winged and Pygmy Geese, Malachite Kingfisher, Papyrus Canary, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Carruther’s Cisticola and some other birds. Five Lake Biome species have also been recorded here.
The overwhelming birding experience in Mabamba in not only at the Swamp but along the way, there are other birding spots with a variety of habitats. After birding in the labyrinth of channels in the marsh, one can choose to follow a woodland and savanna trail up to the sand mining quarry to maximise on chances of other species apart from the wetland birds.
Mabamba Bay Wetland System (Swamps)
This papyrus swamp is characterised by small channels of marsh-filled water and lagoons and is located close to Kampala and Entebbe. Lying on the edge of Lake Victoria, Mabamba Bay is a massive 16,500 hectares and is part of the list of Wetlands of International Importance as chosen by the Ramsar Convention. The site supports an average of close to 190,000 birds and is part of the wetland system which hosts approximately 38% of the global population of the Blue Swallow, as well as the globally-threatened Papyrus Yellow Warbler and other birds of global conservation concern. The site supports a lucrative fisheries activity and is a source of fish for home consumption and commercial use, as well as of raw material for local crafts, building materials, water for domestic and livestock use, and non-wood products.