Monday, January 19, 2009

Black-shouldered kites

On my morning run today I noticed a black-shouldered kite carrying nest-building material to the top of a cypress tree, at least 25 meters up. This is at the west edge of what has been in the past the municipal golf course, near the southern edge of town. I've seldom or never seen these birds inside the built-up area of Mbale town, but they are regular in the more open country on the outskirts and farther afield. The derelict golf course still has enough open grassy/scrubby sections to make excellent hunting grounds for the rodents and insects that provide most of the kites' diet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rwanda & Bunyonyi

We took a family trip to Rwanda and Lake Bunyonyi (SW Uganda) the first week and a half or so of January -- our first time into Rwanda, where we visited friends in Kigali, and a return to often-enjoyed Bushara Island in Lake Bunyonyi. Of course, there were a lot of nifty birds along the way, especially at Bunyonyi, where many species are especially fearless and confiding, presumably because of not being hunted or threatened by people with any regularity.

Some of the "roadside" birds that we saw en route, and that we don't usually encounter in Mbale:

* Lilac-breasted roller, fork-tailed drongo (both of these in and around Masaka town)
* Augur buzzard (several in the mountainous Kabale area)
* Several sizable eagles, probably either resident tawny or migratory steppe eagles (difficult to distinguish in the field unless one observes at close range for a reasonable duration; also in the vicinity of Kabale)

Especially enjoyable sightings on and near Bushara Island:

* Blue-headed coucal
* Red-chested cuckoo
* Klaas' cuckoo
* Tropical boubou
* Paradise flycatcher
* Chubb's cisticola
* Streaky seed-eater
* Thick-billed seed-eater
* Grey crowned crane
* Black-lored babbler
* Cape wagtail
* Large (Holub's) golden weaver
* Chin-spot batis
* Common (brown-throated) wattle-eye
* Cinnamon-chested bee-eater
* Malachite kingfisher
* Mackinnon's fiscal
* European hobby
* Black goshawk
* Pair of harrier hawks on nest
* Cardinal woodpecker
* Pin-tailed whydah