|The sun rises over the forested mountains... what lives in these|
blankets of green? The pictures below show just a fraction of forest life.
Michele and I camped for three nights in Nyungwe Forest National Park here in Rwanda. As some of these pictures show less-than-clear views, you can imagine that birding in a rainforest can be a challenge. Sometimes the best view is hardly a view at all.
|Nyungwe covers over 1,000 square kilometers. Before|
massive deforestation in recent human history, the whole forest
stretched from Uganda through Burundi. The main patch left in Rwanda
is protected as Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Mostly you see plants. Bugs are pretty common too, but at above 2000 meters, most of the nasty bugs are excluded from Nyungwe.
|Angola pied colobus monkeys (Colobus angolensis) live in large groups|
and spend most of their lives in trees.
Still, there is much to be seen in a rainforest; you might just have to be patient to see what you want to see.
|The great blue turaco (Corythaeola cristata) is large and blue with a|
bright yellow bill and a black mohawk. It is a spectacular blue turaco
if you ask me!
Out of 278 possible bird species, Michele and I saw 68 species in our three days there. For comparison, at Agahozo, a mostly agricultural spot in Eastern Rwanda, I have seen 65 species in one day. In Nyungwe, however, quality reigns over quantity. We saw 14 species of birds that are endemic to montane forests of the Albertine Rift (restricted in range and found no where else). One of them, the red-collared mountain babbler (Kupeornis rufocinctus) is apparently extremely hard to see anywhere else in the Albertine Rift.
|L'Hoest's mountain monkeys (Cercopithecus l'hoesti l'hoesti) prowl the|
ground for fruits.
The best part about visiting is that the fees support conservation in Rwanda. Trail permits and camping at Nyungwe are not cheap, but paying for them provides a market for preserving the rainforest. Even if you do not see it all in Nyungwe, your entrance fee helps make sure the forest and its inhabitants are still there blanketing the hills.
|A lizard hides in the brush. Most of Nyungwe's animal residents |
are not seen easily, and this is generally characteristic of most
rainforest organisms, whichever forest you might be in.
|Carruther's mountain squirrel (Funisciurus carruthersi) is one of five|
squirrel species that patrols the trees of Nyungwe.
|This black-and-white casqued hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus) is|
one of the largest birds of the forest. Its name comes from the
bicolored keratin growth above its bill.
|As bright as it is, the bar-tailed trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)|
blends in quite well in the forest.
|The olive-breasted mountain greenbul (Andropadus kikuyuensis) lives|
only in highland forests of East Africa, mainly along the Alberitne Rift.
|Crowned hornbills (Tockus alboterminatus) live in Nyungwe and|
in many other African forests as well.
|See anything besides leaves and branches?|
|A closer look: Sharpe's starling (Pholia sharpii) is an uncommon resident|
of montane forests and is found only in East Africa.