Day 242: Papyrus Swamp

Stalking the Papyrus Gonolek and coming up empty.
Noah's view of a group of Piapiacs near a papyrus swamp.

August 30, 2015: Masindi, Uganda — Livingstone and I headed northwest from Entebbe and spent the day in scrubby forest patches along the highway to Masindi. We had just a few targets to look for, and birding took a deliberate pace. Lunch was packed sandwiches in a shady spot. In mid-afternoon a thunderstorm overtook us and we sat through slashing hail for half an hour before the sun reemergedthe first real precipitation I’ve seen in many weeks.

One of my hoped-for birds in Uganda is a bird called the Papyrus Gonolek, which lives only in papyrus swamps. Elsewhere in Africa, I haven’t seen much papyrus, but it’s all over in this area: Long-stemmed plants with a spherical, pom-pom-like spray of leaves, growing thickly together in flat, wet spots. One swamp we passed had burned, and Livingstone explained that papyrus was one of mankind’s original fire-starting materials. Others had been cleared, evidently harvested for some more modern use. We stopped at every intact swamp and listened for the gonolek, but they stayed quiet today. A close-up Ross’ Turaco was good consolation.

Just like that, August is nearly finished! Eight months down, four to go: This year is two-thirds done. The passage of time sure gets weirder when it’s measured in birds instead of weekdays. At that, I think I’ll hit the hay. Good night from Masindi.

New birds today: 6

Year list: 4,096


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