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JULY 2022

In this month’s newsletter I go through my favorite bird images from our Uganda tour this past January.  I have already done a couple of newsletters on birds from this Uganda trip, one on Turacos and one on high key shots.  The fact that I am able to do 3 newsletters on bird photography just from one tour shows you how great the bird photography is in Uganda (as well as having very good mammal photography including great primates). 

The iconic bird of Uganda is certainly the Shoebill.  On the second day of our tour we took a trip to the Mabamba Swamps on Lake Victoria which is one of the best locations to see and photograph this bird.  It was a rainy day and it took us an hour to find a Shoebill but when we did find one we were rewarded as the bird, a young adult, posed for us for quite a while.  At first we tied up our boats quite a ways off in order to get some images and not scare the bird off. I composed this shot to include as much as I could of the beautiful purple water lilies which are somewhat close in color to the bird.  I focused on the bird and then recomposed placing the bird far left in the frame looking into the frame. The techs for this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 lens, 1/400 at F11, iso 2000,  Av mode, evaluative metering at 0, handheld from tied up boat.  I had started off at iso 3200 but dropped it after I was confident I had made some sharp images.  We did manage to get a fair bit closer for more portrait type shots after this. 

Our next stop was Lake Mburo National Park where we found a pair of Woodland Kingfishers.  One of them was perching and then flying to the ground and grabbing insect prey.  We decided to call them and got this animated reaction from the pair.  The light was fairly low so I had to shoot at iso 6400 to get this but even cropped about fifty percent the image quality is still pretty good. The techs for this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 lens, 1/640 at F11, iso 6400, manual exposure, handheld from vehicle.  I knew this wasn’t enough shutter speed to stop them flying but I figured it was enough to freeze the wings when he spread them like this as he did a few times. 

Several of this species, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, were hanging around the area behind my cabin at our lodge in Bwindi National Park.  They were flitting around a lot and often quickly flashed the tail like a fantail would.  So, one morning a couple of the participants and I tried to get a shot with the tail spread like this.  It was fairly challenging as they would perch nearby but when they were displaying the tail it seemed like they were always a fair bit off.  Finally, I was able to nail the shot, I needed to keep my shutter speed up to keep us with this guy as he was moving continually.  The techs for this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 lens, 1/2000 at F11, Av mode with evaluative metering at 0, handheld. 

Of course, Sunbirds are one of the most spectacular families of birds to photograph in Africa and Asia.  We photographed ten stunning species of Sunbird during our tour.  The Scarlet-chested is one of the larger, more common sunbirds in East Africa.  We photographed it several times on our tour but usually it was in the middle of a bush, not making a very nice photo.  When it was out in the open it tended to use a high perch making it difficult to get close.  So for this shot I dropped my iso from the 3200 I usually use when photographing with the 800RF11 lens down to iso 1600 as I knew I was going to have to crop it quite a bit.  It’s also difficult to get all three of the bright iridescent colors well but I managed to do so here.  The techs for this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 lens, 1/640 at F11, iso 1600, evaluative metering at 0, Av mode, handheld.

With its amazing long tail and iridescent colors, this Purple-breasted Sunbird was my favorite of the trip.  This was taken in Bwindi National Park.  It was a difficult shot with a dark, iridescent bird against a tree with a bright white trunk and bright lichens.  So I decided to use fill flash to balance the lighting and bring out the iridescence of the bird.  The techs for this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11, 1/200 at F11, Av mode, 600EX flash at -1.7, handheld. 

Our next stop was Queen Elizabeth National Park.  At one of our lodges we could sit on the verandah and photograph down on some perches.  So we set up and called in a variety of birds.  We had found this species, the Black-headed Gonolek, responded very well to calls.  While they are in the Bush Shrike family, their behavior reminded me a lot of the Black-capped Donacobius from South America.  The techs on this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 1/1000 at F11, iso 2500, Manual exposure, handheld.  I was using a manual exposure as the birds were in consistent light but sometimes down against a green background and sometimes up high against a cloudy background. 

We visited a lake in Queen Elizabeth National Park which had large numbers of Lesser Flamingos.  We focused on getting reflection shots, I liked this one with a couple of birds taking off.  The techs on this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 lens, 1/1600 at F11, Iso 2000, Av mode, evaluative metering at -0.3, handheld.  I dialed in a bit of negative exposure compensation to keep from burning out the lighter colors of the flamingos.  These birds don’t fly all that fast so 1/1600 was plenty of shutter speed.

At the end of our tour we headed back to Entebbe and had some time to photograph in the botanical gardens.  This Black and White Casqued Hornbill was flapping around trying to get at this nest cavity.  We think Woodland Kingfishers were nesting there as one buzzed the hornbill a few times.  It was a sunny day but almost sunset at this point, I added a lot of positive exposure compensation to get a good exposure on the bird.  The techs for this shot were Canon R5, 800RF11 lens, 1/1000 at F11, iso 3200, Av mode, evaluative metering +1.7, handheld.  

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