Shelley’s finch birding hikes now introduced at Bwindi. It’s history in the making

22 Aug

The very first RFCG Ecotour guests to participate on the Shelley’s finch birding hike at Bwindi . l to r. Amos Monday, Chris Leeper, Benson Bamuturu kneeling, Geoff Russell, a ranger, Joe Kitching  Photo Eelco Meyjes 

The RFCG is extremely proud to announce that the Uganda Wildlife Authority ( UWA ) has launched a Shelley’s finch birding hike at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The 4 hour hike takes birders to the place where a pair of Shelley’s Crimsonwing finches were first spotted by Amos Monday in August 2010. The hike starts from the tiny village of Ruhija which is very high up, on the misty mountains, in the south eastern part of the magnificent forest. The hikes cost 50 USD per person which includes a birdguide as well as a ranger. The RFCG suggests that for those birders wishing to participate on such a hike that they ask for Amos Monday to be their bird guide. Amos’s English is fairly good and he is a very good birder who doubles up as a porter on Mountain Gorilla hikes. Birders , if they wish, can also participate on Mountain Gorilla hikes which start from the same village. Permits to participate on a mountain gorilla hike currently cost 500 USD per person and need to be purchased well in advance from the UWA.

Amos Monday, Benson Bamutura and Eelco Meyjes at the actual spot where a pair of Shelley’s finches were seen by Amos. Amos and Benson are amongst the very few people in the world who have actually seen the elusive Shelley’s crimsonwing finch, which is one of Africa’s rarest finches. Photo Eelco Meyjes 

It has always been part of the RFCG’s vision to not only do conservation work with some of the rarest finches in the world ,but to also try and socially uplift local communities , by providing employment, where a rare finch species maybe seen . The small community in Ruhija is extremely poor and the birdguides, in the event of them seeing the bird, are unable to purchase sophisticated cameras to actually photograph the elusive finch . The RFCG would hereby like to appeal to all birders visiting the area, and participating on this newly introduced hike, to try and capture the bird on camera and share the visuals with the rest of of the international birding community. To this day, eventhough BirdLife International estimates that there are between 2,500 to 10,000 of these little finches, there still is only one known recent photograph of the bird in the world. Whilst the going may have been tough on certain parts of the tour the RFCG is pleased to report that its first pioneering fundraising EcoTour to South Africa and Uganda was a great success. More about the trip will be shared with our followers in future blogs as well as on YouTube.
Watch this space for more about our exciting planned fund raising trips over the next 24 months or contact Russell Kingston at indruss@bigpond.com or Eelco Meyjes at editor@avitalk.co.za if you wish to find out more and make a provisional booking

Bwindi warden of Tourism Godfrey Baryesima is congratulated by Russell Kingston for opening the new Shelley’s finch bird hiking trail up at Ruhija. Photo Eelco Meyjes 

A ranger protects Eelco Meyjes whilst doing film work on the first RFCG Ecotour Shelley’s birding hike in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Photo Eelco Meyjes 

The spectacular Great Blue Turaco was seen in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest by participants on the first RFCG EcoTour . Photo taken by Russell Kingston

World’s only known photograph of the Shelley’s crimsonwing. Visual courtesy http://www.gorilla.org

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