24 Jul

Before I visited the Akagera National Park for the first time, I envisioned a dry Savannah devoid of water bodies. Upon arrival, I was surprised to learn that the protected area encompasses ten lakes and extensive marshlands. 

Akagera’s wetland area is home to more than 400 species of birds. I could have done a whole series about birds without even scratching the surface. A birding enthusiast visiting the park feels like a kid in a candy store.

Nature-based tourism enables me to understand wildlife better. Every nature getaway is a study tour. While visiting Akagera, I spent some time studying birds and trying to identify them through colors and sound.

As the name suggests, the red-winged francolin has red wings. The chest of a brown-chested lapwing is brown. The face of a red-faced barbet is ..... I am sure you can easily fill in the blank space. There are more distinctive features than the color alone. However, the pigmentation of body parts provides leads.

Furthermore, I try to put names to birds whenever I listen to the sounds they produce. The longer I listen to them, the more I notice differences in tones, patterns and pitches. The red-chested sun bird produces a high-pitched jumble while the sun bird’s call includes a short chek, chek, chek followed by a long cheee, cheee, cheee.

Earlier in the series, I mentioned how the birds inhabiting the shore of Lake Mihindi entertained me during my memorable lunch break at Mihindi Campsite & Café. The soothing melodies of the yellow-fronted canary had a calming effect. Known for its silvery twitter, this talented singer is a true definition of a songbird.