The Annual Big Birding Day (BBD) in Uganda is gaining momentum ever since its commencement in 2009. BBD is a day when bird watching enthusiasts, tourism promoters and conservationists come together to enjoy Uganda’s diverse bird species from known and unknown birding sites with an intention of promoting and appreciating bird (avian) tourism and avian conservation.
Uganda Tourism Board organised a series of events for the Big Birding Day 2014 together with NatureUganda, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Birds Guides and other players in tourism and conservation. The activities for the BBD 2014 included the launch, birding race and the festival. These events linked all bird watchers, tourism promoters and conservationists with a common goal of appreciating and promoting bird tourism and conservation. BBD 2014 was organised under the theme; ‘Birds and People, Friends for Life’.
The BBD 2014 was launched on 27th November at Kasenge Forest Resort where a team of renowned international birders, Dominic Mitchell, the managing editor of Bird Watch – Europe’s leading monthly birders magazine; Tim Appleton – co-founder and organiser of the British Birding Fair, and Bill Thompson – editor of the Bird Watcher’s Digest and director of the Ohio Ornithologist Society were introduced and graced the birding exercise, which they were to participate in.
The birding race which was conducted on 29th November was coordinated by NatureUganda. The race attracted an incredible competition from 37 birding teams and over 375 participants across the country.
This emanated from the eagerness and excitement, eventually producing an outstanding and unmatchable 731 bird species compared to previous BBDs. This is due to the eminence this event has gained over the years among the dedicated souls of birders, tourism promoters and conservationists in Uganda.
The highest record for the day was 308 species from Queen Elizabeth National Park, followed by 242 species from Budongo Central Forest Reserve and Murchison Falls National Park, and then Lake Mburo followed with 221 species and Fort Portal area with 209 species. The sites that participated included 21 sites inside protected areas (National parks and forest reserves) and 16 outside protected areas.
BBD SUMMARY RESULTS
NatureUganda served as the tally centre for the birding activity, a job it has done for all the years BBD has been conducted, with a lot of dedication. This activity involved coordinating the birding teams in the field to carry out the birding and thereafter send their results/records in good time. Records that were received showed a rise in Uganda young birders participating in the race, which shows a bright future for the birding tourism industry. Bird species recorded have been rising year by year. For instance, in 2009, 386 bird species were recorded from 17 sites; 622 species recorded in 2010, 569 species were recorded in 2011, 657 species in 2012, 708 species in 2013 and 731 species in 2014. The results of the Big Birding race 2014 were announced during the birding Festival, which took place on 6th December at the Uganda Museum.
During birding, the exercise was marred with rain across the whole country but this did not frustrate the birding spirits of participants from all age groups and this was a good indication from the dedicated teams all determined to win the race.
The Birding festival was spear –headed by UTB and was held at the Uganda Museum. It is the Occasion where results from the birding race were announced. It had speeches from distinguished guests including speakers from all the organising partners. In his remarks, at the BBD festival, NatureUganda’s treasurer to the Executive Committee, Dr. Robert Nabayumya said that “NatureUganda identified and mapped 34 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Uganda with diverse bird species that is equivalent to 10% of species in the world and 47% of birds on the African continent”. In this case, Uganda has more bird species per square kilometre compared to any other country in Africa. With this number of bird species both in and outside protected areas, a birding trip around Uganda is the most rewarding in east and central tropical birding destinations, he continued to emphasize.
NatureUganda would like to thank its members and partners for taking part in the birding exercise. Above all, the organisation remains committed to carrying out more bona fide research thereby contributing to biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resource management by promoting the understanding, appreciation and conservation of nature.