14 Nov 2010 Telephone interview with Benson Bamutura, who is waiting in his home village for the RFCG project on Shelley’s Crimsonwing http://rarefinch.wordpress.com/find-shelley/ to continue.
Miriam: “How did you get so interested in birds?”
Benson: “From when I was a young boy I remember always hearing the bird calls around our compound and I would try to see the birds themselves. My home was near Kibale forest and from when I was around 16 years old, I went along with a friend who was guiding (birding) tourists in and around the forest. Then I also had a chance to take part in a guide training with a Community Based Organisation for Magonde swamp, which helped me even more.
From 2002 onwards, I started touring Uganda as a bird guide and learning a wider variety of birds. I got many contacts through the visitors I was guiding and once I had an email address and phone, they started calling me directly and I became a free lance guide!
That is how I met Simon (Espley) for the first time in 2008 and he asked me to become the field leader for the Shelley’s project.”
M: “What motivates you to keep birding?”
B: “I really like ‘to keep in the wild’! And it has been satisfying to go out with visitors to Uganda who are really interested and enthusiastic about seeing our many and special birds in Uganda. It has been a good income too for me and my family.”
M: “What do you prefer: the bird guiding work or the research project you did with the RFCG?”
B: “I liked the research work better and could go on forever with that, if asked! I had a chance to see birds so close-up because of the netting. I even learned how to distinguish the sexes. And I was pleased to learn how to use a camera.”
M: “Anything special you want to tell about?”
B: “For the first time ever I saw the Grey-chested Illadopsis in the mist nets and also we had Mountain buzzards trying to pick the netted birds! Oh yes, and when we were trapping around Nkuringo (south side of Bwindi), we trapped 7 Red-faced Crimsonwings in one go! That was a real special day. Again in Nkuringo, one day our tents were surrounded by 13 Mountain gorillas.”
M: “How did you feel when you heard that the rare Shelley’s Crimsonwing, which you had tried so hard to net during many months of fieldwork, had been spotted along a Bwindi trail by visitors?”
B: “Of course I was a bit sad it had not been me to see them! The visitors happened to be guided by Amos Monday Bunengo, one of my field assistants. He called me to let me know. Unfortunately, no-one got a picture of it. But we could go back to where they saw it and set up mist nets for some days, to try and catch it for detailed description, ringing and photos. Hearing about this sighting is stimulating for me to continue the search.”
M: “Any message for interested readers?”
B: “It is really important to keep our search for Shelley’s Crimsonwing going and I appeal to people to donate to the RFCG. It is such a rare bird and can only be found in Bwindi and Mgahinga, in the whole world… imagine!”