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The shoebill remains a prized sight
The shoebill remains a prized sight

Motherly: It derives its name from its enormous shoe like shaped bill that can grow up-to 24cm in width. Mabamba swamp is a hot spot for shoebill sighting and EDGAR R. BATTE tells us about his experience tracking the motherly bird.


With a face only a mother can love, the shoebill does not have the best of looks. But you wouldn’t tell that to a birder. On a chilly morning, everyone was in high spirit. Into the boats we went, anticipating to see the solitary bird, one whose look could be mistaken to be a condemnatory as its stare is long and seems hard.
Uganda is host to some of the world’s renowned birders and we are on a familiarisation trip that will take us to some of the country’s popular tourism destinations, majorly for birding excursions and wildlife findings too, courtesy of the tourism board.
Our first excursion was on Mabamba Swamp, over peaceful waters and through some thickets. Wide-feathered bill was elusive. But not for long.

Meet the bills
Under half an hour, he popped from the boggy grasslands and flew about, perhaps for the benefit of the awaiting audience of birders who were equipped and ready to capture his anticipated appearance.
Soon came the sound of clicking cameras, with lenses as long as pricey bunch of matooke. Mabamba Swamp and Lake Mburo have so far proven fruitful. We have managed to see a number of birds.
Mabamba’s highlight was the shoebill that was in every aspect an exciting sight.
To Colombian bird guide, Diego Calderon Franco, seeing the shoebill was priceless as he had anticipated.
“It has been so amazing that even on the first day, we have seen 50 or 60 birds already. Everything is new for me (here) and it is a great experience that is promising to be one of the most memorable trips that I have taken. It is my first time in Africa and this is the perfect place to start,” he explains.

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