Mabamba Bay Wetland
Mabamba is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus towards the Western main body of Lake Victoria in Mpigi District. It has the status of an unprotected area with bird categories, globally threatened species and Lake Victoria Basin biome species. This Important Bird Area (IBA) is one of the best marshy areas along the Northern shores of Lake Victoria for bird watching, it is the closest place to Kampala. The climate is similar to other areas of the Northern shorelines of the lake (1200 – 1500mm of rain with average minimum temperature of 17°C and average maximum temperature of 26°C).
Birding in Mabamba wetland, Uganda.
Mabamba bay has grown into one of the most interesting and spectacular sites for birding in Uganda and is one of the wetlands of International Importance. Apart from Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba bay is the only other place and site ( so far rated as the best in Africa and/or the whole world) where the elusive Shoebill can be spotted at any one time of the day. Recently, Mabamba has become one of the strong holds 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 species with one day’s record of 157 species.
There are other four globally threatened species and other species of regional significance, i.e. the Pallid Harrier, Papyrus Gonolek, White-Winged Warbler and the Blue Swallow. The Shoebill feeds primarily on Lungfish (Protopterus aethipicus), which is also cherished by the local community. Shoebills are regularly recorded in pairs or in threes in the marsh at Nakowogo, about 2 km North East of Mabamba Bay.
Recent visits also confirmed 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 good numbers of Goliath Herons, Spur-Winged and Pygmy Geese, Malachite Kingfisher, Papyrus Canary, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Carruther’s Cisticola and a number of 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 maximize on chances of other species apart from the wetland birds.