Climbing the finch Mount Everest of Africa to find the elusive Shelley’s crimsonwing is the ultimate challenge

11 Feb

The Rare Finch Conservation Group field team camping at a high point campsite in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Uganda

Just over five years ago the Rare Finch Conservation Group ( RFCG ) embarked on a challenge that for many seems absolutely impossible to achieve . The challenge is to try and find the inexplicably rare and elusive  Shelley’s crimsonwing finch, that inhabits the dense highland rainforests of the Albertine Rift in central Africa  . At the time that we started there were no photographs in the world of this elusive bird . Today after 5 years we know of only two photographs, yet according to Birdlife International in the IUCN Red Data list there should be between 2,500 to 10,000 of these finches left in the world .

Benson Bamutura ,who is our field manager , with a pair of Red Faced Crimsonwings

Whilst we may not have found this elusive  finch yet, we are more than delighted  to share with you some of the wonderful finch species netted and photographed by our field team during the Phase 2 field research cycle. The research was done at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the south western part of Uganda

Not many finch enthusiasts know it, but the Bwindi Impenetrable forest has no less than 43 finch species , which must make this beautiful scenic area  in Africa the absolute Mecca for finch birders from all over the world .

During our fieldwork periods mist nets are set up early in the morning and then taken down again by midmorning . As per international norms the nets are checked every 15 to 20 minutes to ensure that the birds experience  the least amount of stress . Mist nets are set up again late afternoons and taken down again just after sunset . The RFCG will only ring and take GPS coordinates etc. of all the various crimsonwing species and then immediatly release the birds back into the wild.

Black crowned waxbill

Fawn breasted waxbill

Recording the field data of 3 Red Faced crimsonwings ( 2 cockbirds and a hen )

3 Dusky crimsonwings ( 2 henbirds and a cockbird in the middel ) These finches are said to hang out with the ultra rare Shelley's crimsonwing finch

Bronze Mannikin

Immature greenbacked twinspot

Red headed bluebill

Dusky crimsonwing cockbird

Common waxbill

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is currently raising funds to finance its proposed Phase 3 field research programme . If you would like to support this non profit organisation and its pioneering conservation work then please contact the editor at editor@avitalk.co.zas  for more information or visit www.rarefinch.co.za . You may also wish to read some of the interesting posts that have appeared on this blog over the past couple of months

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