October Big Day- Uganda Women Birders

Celebrating Birds and Biodiversity on October Big Day 2023 with Uganda Women Birders

Its that time of the year again! October Big Day! Why is it a special day you may ask?

Well, every year, bird enthusiasts and nature lovers all over the world unite and participate in a 24-hour Birdwatching excursion, recording as many birds as we can. Created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and eBird, there two Big Birding days every year. The first is the Global Big Day is in May and the goal is to create a snapshot of bird diversity and distribution on a global scale by collecting data from birdwatchers worldwide.

October Big Day- Uganda Women BirdersOctober Big Day is a similar birdwatching event, like its name suggests, takes place in October. This event was created to provide an opportunity for birdwatchers to document bird species during the fall migration. Bird migration is a fascinating and complex phenomenon that continues to be a subject of scientific study and conservation efforts

The focus of October Big Day is to track the movement of birds as they migrate south for the winter. This provides valuable data for understanding the timing and distribution of fall migration. Many bird species migrate from Europe to Africa, particularly during the winter months, to take advantage of the milder climate and abundant food resources in Africa. Some species like Swallows, Swifts, Bee-eaters, Wheatears and others are migratory birds be enjoyed in Uganda during the northern winter months. Using our ebird accounts we record as many bird species as we can in 24 hours, which lists are submitted to online to the eBird App, Lists are collected by bird lovers from all over the world, and are a true valuable source to science and conservation.

Its a chance for us to record the birds you see, share our passion for birds and nature. These Big Birding days bring people together, we unite as we share our love for birds. Its usually a global bird weekend. Last October 2022, 35,000 people from 185 countries submitted 80,000 checklists to eBird.  This clearly demonstrates the power birds have to bring people together, while we contribute to science and conservation in real-time, for us to better understand the environment we live in.

On 14th October 2023, I had the privilege of joining the remarkable Uganda Women Birders for an avian adventure like no other. As tourist guides coming from the peak summer season, it was a chance to unite with fellow women bird lovers, escape our hectic schedules, and revel in the outdoors.  And what made this year even more special was we were joined by some of the amazing Pro, Avid women birders who are a great inspiration to many of us up-and-coming birders! We were hosted by jolly Prossy Nanyombi who lives right next to the Mpanga forest. We were happy to see Patricia Kansiime and Abia Atukwatse who volunteered to also guide us that day. Other amazing women birders like Giovanna, Priscilla, Hadijjah, Barbie, Alexandria, Mercy, Scovia, Jennifer, Carol K, Daphne, the Snake Girl Edith and many more took time off their busy schedules to come birding.

Most importantly, we were joined by our patron founder Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga! When it comes to Uganda Women Birders, his lessons, passion, dedication, encouragement, and inspiration have been the bedrock of our journey. As the patron founder of Uganda Women Birders, Herbert, fondly known as Papa, has tirelessly championed our cause, fostering a community of empowered and knowledgeable women in the world of birding. His unwavering support has not only helped us grow as birdwatchers but has also been instrumental in promoting gender equality in the field of ornithology. Herbert’s vision and commitment continue to fuel our collective passion for birds and conservation, making our path brighter and our impact more significant with each passing day. We were happy to have him join us. Also, eBird Verifier Davis Rukundo joined us on this special October Big Day.

Enjoying the Forest- October Big DayHerbert welcomed us and reminded us of the significance of uniting and birding together. The Uganda Women Birders are soaring to new heights as we gear up for the International Conference for Women Birders from 6th-8th December 2023. With unwavering enthusiasm, we are embarking on more birding excursions, each expedition deepening our knowledge and honing our skills. These outings serve as vital preparation, not only to showcase our expertise but to unite with fellow birding enthusiasts from around the world. As we traverse Uganda’s stunning landscapes, we’re not only growing as birdwatchers but also becoming powerful advocates for women in ornithology. Our journey is a testament to our dedication and passion, setting the stage for a conference that promises to be truly exceptional.

A Birding Date in Mpanga Forest with Uganda Women Birders

Our chosen destination for this extraordinary birding adventure was the enchanting Mpanga Forest, a medium-altitude forest, remnant of a lush forest that once covered most of northern lake Victoria areas. The 45km Forest Reserve was gazetted in the 1950s and has since been protected by the National Forest Association.

Prossy warmly welcomed us and briefed us about the forest and what we were to expect. She told us over 180 bird species have been recorded with the most common ones being the Black-and-white casqued hornbill, African Pied hornbill, Blue-Breasted kingfisher, African Grey parrot, Great Blue Turaco among others. We were able to see some of them right there as she was briefing us. She told us about more unique birds we might be able to see like the colorful Weyn’s Weaver, White-spotted Flufftail, Blue Kingfisher, Green Crombec, Western Nicator, White breasted Nigrita and so much more.

She also told us about the monkey species we were to expect and we were able to see the most common ones the Red-Tailed Monkey and the Guereza Monkey. She also told us about the bushpigs and bushbuck that were availabe but quite shy. Mpanga is famous for an array of beautiful butterflies that nonchalantly fluttered by as we took in the forest, excited about all the unique sightings we were about to witness. The forest is a paradise for birders and butterfly lovers alike. The lush green canopy, with its hidden treasures, was our playground for the day.

One cannot help but be mesmerized by the sheer diversity of species that call Mpanga home. The forest’s rich biodiversity is a result of its unique rainforest, creating a haven for a wide range of avian wonders.

The Beauty of Forest Birding and Forest Bathing

Enjoying the Forest- October Big DayBirdwatching in a lush forest like Mpanga is a transformative experience. It’s not just about identifying birds; it’s about immersing oneself in nature. The cool breeze, the earthy scent of the forest floor, and the gentle rustling of leaves above create a sense of profound connection.

Forest birding is an art of patience and observation. It’s about learning to distinguish the subtle nuances in plumage, calls, and behavior. And when you finally spot that elusive bird perched high in the canopy or deep in the undergrowth, the feeling of accomplishment is unparalleled. Forest birding is more of listening to the beautiful distinguishing calls of the different species, listening for a swish or flutter of feathers, catching a bit of movement in the green shadows of the forest.  Its about whistling and playing back calls to mimic some of them to come out of their shadows, its about scanning the open skies for birds in flight as they glide above us in the current.

We enjoyed every minute of the birding.

Birds I particularly enjoyed sighting include the Fire-Crested Alethe, Green Hylia, Western Nicator, Buff-Throated Apalis, Slender-billed Greenbull, The Grey-Headed and White-Breasted Nigrita were such a sighting and the colorful Red Headed Malimbe and Green backed Twinspot delighted my eyes. We had one of us be the secretary and record all our sightings on eBird. Together with the Merlin Bird ID app and the free eBird Mobile App, anyone can easily identify the birds you see.

But it’s not just about the birds; it’s about the rejuvenating power of the forest. The Japanese concept of “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku is a practice that encourages mindfulness in the forest. It’s a chance to reconnect with nature, reduce stress, and feel the healing embrace of the wilderness. And as we stood in the heart of Mpanga Forest, we couldn’t help but feel invigorated, as if the forest itself had welcomed us with open arms.

Contributing to Science and Conservation

Our day in Mpanga Forest was about more than personal fulfillment. It was about contributing valuable data to eBird, a global database of bird sightings. Each observation, each species added to our checklist, was a piece of the puzzle that scientists and researchers use to better understand the avian world.

This data helps monitor bird populations, track migration patterns, and identify habitats in need of conservation attention. The information we collected from sightings of birds of the world isnt just numbers on a page; it a testament to the global birding community’s commitment to the well-being of birds and their ecosystems.

The concept of citizen science is a powerful one. It empowers ordinary individuals like us to make a significant impact on our understanding of birds and the environment. Considering people all over the world are welcome to participate, its shows the power of birds to bring people together. We joined a global community of bird enthusiasts, all with a shared goal: to protect and celebrate the incredible avian diversity of our planet.  The data we collected and submitted to eBird, a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is instrumental in advancing our understanding of birds and their habitats. It is our way of giving back to the avian world that had always fascinated us.

As the day progressed, our checklist grew, and our hearts swelled with a sense of unity. The October Big Day isn’t just about individual achievements; it’s about the collective impact we can make as a global community. Birds, with their ethereal beauty and universal appeal, have the power to transcend borders and languages, bringing people together in the pursuit of a common goal.

Click here for a Birding Tour to Mabamba Swamp

The Power of October Big Day and the International Conference for Women Birders

So, as I look back on that memorable October day, I’m reminded of the beauty of birds and the importance of their conservation. Every bird we observed and every checklist we submitted was a step toward a better understanding of the avian world. And it was a reminder that we, as ordinary individuals, can be a force for positive change.

The Big Birding Days are more than just an event on the calendar; they are a celebration of the avian wonders that grace our world. They are a call to action, an invitation to join the global community of bird lovers and citizen scientists. They are a chance to experience the unifying power of birds, to celebrate their beauty, and to contribute to their conservation.

As the Uganda Women Birders, our enthusiasm for the upcoming International Conference for Women Birders in December 2023 knows no bounds. We are wholeheartedly dedicated to making this event a resounding success and a memorable experience for all attendees. With great anticipation, we are tirelessly honing our birdwatching skills, deepening our knowledge, and preparing to host travelers from across the globe. We want to ensure that everyone who joins us will not only be captivated by Uganda’s incredible birdlife but also feel warmly welcomed by our community of passionate women in ornithology. This conference is more than an event; it’s a celebration of diversity and a testament to the power of collective knowledge and love for birds. We can’t wait to share our beautiful country with fellow bird enthusiasts and create lasting memories together!

In the end, the birds remind us that we are part of a vast, interconnected web of life. They teach us the importance of conservation, the value of community, and the joy of simply being in nature. Big Birding Days are a testament to these lessons, a celebration of our feathered friends, and an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world.

Click here for the official report of the October Big Day 2023 from eBird Team.

Enjoying the Forest- October Big DayMpanga Forest October Big Day  Birding
Saturday 14/10/23
Departure: Total Uganda House

1. Giovanna Ochamringa
2. Kyarimpa Caroline
3. Scovia Musiimenta
4. Alexandria Nazziwa
5. Mercy Amucu
6. Jennifer Ayebare
7. Prishilla Apolot
8. Shan Nanyogo
10. Abia Atukwatse
12 Precious Musiimenta
13.Priscilla Kabarungi
14. Owunshaba Susan
15. Barbie Jacquie
16.Birungi Daphine
17.Nanteza Hadijjah
18. Carolyne Mutesi
19. Herbert Byaruhanga
20. Bronia Oyera
21. Niwagaba Criscent
22. Prossy Nanyombi
23. Kansime Patricia
24.Julian Ampeire
25. Edith Namirembe
26. Nakitende Mastula
27. Davis Rukundo

Mpanga Forest October Big Day Checklist

Mpanga Central Forestry Reserve
Oct 14, 2023
9:22 a.m.
1.43 km
194 minutes
All birds reported? Yes

1 Tambourine Dove
2 Great Blue Turaco
1 Ross’s Turaco
1 Levaillant’s Cuckoo
3 Little Swift
2 African Palm Swift
2 White-spotted Flufftail
2 Hadada Ibis
2 African Harrier-Hawk
2 Hooded Vulture
1 Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle
1 Lizard Buzzard
1 Common Buzzard
2 Crowned Hornbill
1 African Pied Hornbill (Congo)
3 Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill
1 Yellow-billed Barbet
1 Speckled Tinkerbird
3 Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
2 Yellow-spotted Barbet
2 Hairy-breasted Barbet
5 Gray Parrot
1 Black Cuckooshrike
1 Chestnut Wattle-eye
1 African Shrike-flycatcher
1 Western Nicator
2 Green Hylia
1 Green-backed Camaroptera
1 Buff-throated Apalis
2 Banded Martin
2 Barn Swallow
1 Angola Swallow
1 Slender-billed Greenbul
2 Toro Olive-Greenbul
3 Common Bulbul
1 Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush
1 Gray Tit-Flycatcher
1 Fire-crested Alethe
1 Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat
1 Blue-throated Brown Sunbird
2 Scarlet-chested Sunbird
1 Red-headed Malimbe
5 Weyns’s Weaver
1 Magpie Mannikin
1 Black-and-white Mannikin
1 Green-backed Twinspot
1 White-breasted Nigrita
2 Gray-headed Nigrita
1 Red-billed Firefinch
1 Pin-tailed Whydah
1 Northern Gray-headed Sparrow

Number of Taxa: 51

Written By Carolyne Mutesi

Tourist Guide, Uganda Women Birders.

Agiire Tours and Travels Ltd


Leave a Reply

Note: Comments on the web site reflect the views of their authors, and not necessarily the views of the bookyourtravel internet portal. You are requested to refrain from insults, swearing and vulgar expression. We reserve the right to delete any comment without notice or explanations.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are signed with *