Mountain Elgon National Park Uganda, Montane Birding
Mount Elgon extends along Uganda’s international border with Kenya, which effectively divides the mountain into two roughly equal parts. The mountain itself extends for about 80 km north-south and 50 km east-west. It is a solitary extinct volcano, with one of the most massive craters in the world at 8 km across. Elgon is the fourth highest mountain in Africa. Its highest peak, Wagagai (4321m) lies in Uganda. The mountain has got three other significant peaks which are Kiongo (4303m), Mubiyi (4210m) and Jackson’s summit (4165m). On the caldera floor, there are hot springs.
Mount Elgon’s forests are rich in birds, with a total of 300 species. The park harbors 43 of the 144 species of Guinea–Congo Forests biome and 56 of the 88 species of Afro-tropical Highland biome that occur in Uganda. There are isolated records of the near-threatened species, the Taita Falcon. Mount Elgon represents the western range limit of some species or races that occur in the highlands of Kenya and northern Tanzania, such as Hunter’s Cisticola and Jackson Francolin. Notable among the species that are restricted to the Afro-tropical Highlands biome, the park holds three; the Moorland Francolin, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, and the Alpine Chat. There is also an endemic race of the White-starred Robin.
Others to look out for include; Cape Robin-Chat, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Little Rock-Thrush, Northern Anteater Chat, Nightingale, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Mountain Yellow Warbler, African Reed Warbler, Little Rush Warbler, Upcher’s Warbler, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff, the Uganda and Brown Woodland Warblers, Green Hylia, White-browed Crombec, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, the Stout, Thrilling, and Rattling Cisticolas. Chances of seeing the Banded Prinia, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Northern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sunbird, Yellow-billed Shrike, Ludher’s Bush-shrike, Cape Rock, Fan-tailed and White-napped Raven, Chestnut Sparrow, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, White-headed Buffaloe-Weaver and many more are very high.
Mt. Elgon is also locally known as Mt. Masaba. Masaba is the name of the founding ancestor of the Bagisu who is said to have emerged from a cave on the slopes several centuries ago. Mt. Elgon is an essential watershed for various rivers including the Sipi River which forms the great Sipi falls. The hills support a rich variety of altitudinal vegetation zones ranging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the other-worldly giant lobelia and groundsel plants.
Though the spectacular scenery is the main attraction, the park is generally very rich in flora and fauna
Among the mammals found here include; Species of forest monkeys, species of small antelopes, elephants and buffaloes