A number of swamp lands have been listed among wetlands of international bird importance under the Ramsar convention in Uganda. Some of Uganda’s wetlands have been recognized by Birdlife as Important Bird Areas. Much as the sites are well known for their bird life, they are also critical habitats for other threatened plants and animals.
Lake Bisina Wetland System
Positioned in Soroti, Katakwi and Kumi districts, the shallow freshwater lake with a thin strip of fringing papyrus swamp system is categorized as an important Bird area by birdlife international. The shallow area is used as a feeding ground by wading birds, including the globally vulnerable Shoebill. The system is also important as a refuge for fish species that have gone extinct in the main Ugandan lakes. The lake is very important for the surrounding communities in terms of fishing, transport, and supply of water for domestic use and livestock. Other outstanding bird species such as Papyrus Gonolek, Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-winged Scrub-warbler, Red-chested Sunbird, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Fox’s Weaver and Papyrus Canary can be spotted here.
Lake Mburo—Nakivali Wetland System
This wetland system is located in western Uganda in the districts of Isingiro, Kiruhura and Mbarara close to the borders with Tanzania and Rwanda in the shallow valleys of various tributaries of the Kagera River. Most of the wetland system is covered by open and wooded savanna, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and five lakes, of which Lake Mburo is by far the largest. Some of globally threatened species of birds here include the Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Shoebill and provides refuge to 22 species of Palaearctic and Afro tropical migrant birds during adverse conditions. It supports two of the endangered cichlid fish species which have gone extinct in the main lakes, and it is the only area in Uganda in which the Impala is found.
Lake Nakuwa Wetland System
Lake Nakuwa wetland is a permanent wetland located in Kamuli and Soroti districts in Eastern Uganda around Lake Kyoga. The wetland system is surrounded by a number of lakes including Budipa, Nawampasa, Murlu and Nkodokodo as well as swamps in the east, and the northern swamps of Lakes Nakuwa and Kyebiseke. The swamp system is dominated by dense papyrus, broken in parts by pools of water forming Sudds (clumps of floating papyrus). The system supports the Sitatunga antelope, Nile crocodile, diverse cichlid species, fish taxa that have been reported extinct in the main lakes and several important bird species including Shoebill, Papyrus Gonolek, Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-winged Scrub-warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Sharpe’s Pied-babbler, Red-chested Sunbird, Northern Brown-throated Weaver and Papyrus Canary.
Lake Opeta-Bisina Wetland System
Important Bird Area, one of the remaining intact and probably most important wetland marshes in Uganda located in the districts of Kumi, Katakwi, Soroti, Bukedea, Nakapiripiriti and Sironko. It was designated as a Ramsar site in 2006 by combining Lake Opeta and Lake Bisina Ramsar sites. It is predominantly an extensive swamp of Hippo grass to the east and south graduating into dry Hyparrhenia grassland savannas. The wetland is of great conservation of dry land bird species, including Fox’s weaver–Uganda’s only endemic bird that breeds from this wetland. Papyrus Gonolek, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, white-winged Warbler, Carruther’s Cisticola, Papyrus Canary among others are some of the sought after birds in this area.
Lutembe Bay Wetland System
Lutembe Bay is an Important Bird Area located in Mpigi district at the mouth of Lake Victoria Uganda. The site supports globally threatened species of birds, endangered Cichlid fish and over 100 butterfly species including three rare ones. It is a breeding ground for Clarias and lungfish and regularly supports more than 52% of the White winged Black Terns population. The dominant vegetation is a mosaic of papyrus on the open waterside, with Miscanthus and Vossia towards the dry land. Have a chance to watch birds of importance like Grey-headed Gull, White-winged Tern, Papyrus Gonolek, Carruthers’s Cisticola, White-winged Scrub-warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Sharpe’s Pied-babbler.
Uganda is one of the best places for birding in the tropics. The country has over 1065 bird species including many endemic species. A birding safari in Uganda is one of the best outdoor adventure you will ever enjoy given the easy bird sightings, opportunities for gorilla tours in Bwindi Forest or Mgahinga as well as game viewing in savanna national parks with impressive animals in their natural wild including the tree climbing lions, large herds of elephants, buffaloes, etc.