Birding Evenings – An evening at Okhla Bird Sanctuary
I attended a 12-day Summer School at Amity University from 27 May to 7 June. It was then that I found out about an amazing Birding Spot only 10 mins from the university. I decided to pay a short visit to the Sanctuary on the evening of the last day.
On March 2, 2019, I went again birding near Sutlej on my Motorcycle. The day had a solid start with the sightings of an Oriental Honey Buzzard, Pied Bushchat and a Eurasian Marsh Harrier (no photographs).
I had recently observed an Alexandrine Parakeet pair residing in our forest but every time I saw it, I was without the camera. So, on 26th, I went to the forest with the sole motive of photographing the pair.
February was not quite a successful one but I explored many new places which later on proved out to be gifting.
This month birding began on 9th with a visit to the nearby cultivations. I saw only some common species like the Spotted Owlet, Red-naped Ibis and White-tailed Stonechat. But, I could not manage any good photograph.
Bulbuls are small passerine birds known for their melodious songs. Their neck and wings are short while the tail is longer. Their wings are rounded and the bill is long and elongated with a hooked end.
(Athene brama indica at Phillaur Divisional Forest)
Size(20-21cm): It is very small that is why it is called Owlet not Owl.
(Spotted Owlet pair at Phillaur)
Area: All India except Middle and Higher Himalayas.
Habitat: Human inhabitation, forests, gardens, parks, cultivation and dry lands.
My two words: It is a common, white and brown Owl. The upperparts are grey-brown with thick white spotting. The head is pale brown with fine white spots. The underparts are white with brown streaking. The neck and supercilium are also white. The iris is pure yellow.
The race A. b. indica is paler all over.
Solitary or in pairs or sometimes even in small groups.
They are nocturnal, although they are often seen during the daytime. Trees with a hole are their favorite roosting sites. They are mainly seen when disturbed by other birds or during flight. Not a difficult one to spot but at the same time, not an easy one.
When disturbed, they bob their heads up and down and stare at the intruder for a long time before flying away.
(They sate the intruder for a long time sometimes with tilted heads)
Food mainly includes small insects, small vertebrates like mice, sometimes toads. I have seen it feed on a Red-wattled Lapwing chick at my residence.
(Spotted Owlet near its hole)
3-4 eggs are laid in the hole. after hatching, only 1-2 birds fledge and leave the nest. the young ones are fed on small insects for the first few days of their life and slowly they take upto small vertebrates.
(Two juvenile Spotted Owlets at Phillaur)
Their call is a loud and harsh chirurr…chirurr…chirurr which is heard mostly during sunrise or sunset.
(Spotted Owlet at Harike Wetlands)
They are quite common and are often overseen by people due to its body coloration.
Size(23-25cm): It is a small owl but is the largest among the scops owls.
Area: All India till 2400m in Himalayas.
Habitat: It is common in forests, orchards and cultivated fields.
My two words: It grey-brown above and is marked with white. Underparts are either brown or grey with streaks and mottling. Like other scops owls, it also has a tufted head or ears. Both the sexes are alike.
It is generally solitary but might sometimes be spotted in pairs.
Remains silent and motionless during the day and comes in action during the dusk. It is difficult to spot because of its body colour and it habit remaining still in dark leafy branches and holes in trees throughout the day.
(In Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur)
The diet chiefly consists of lizards, rodents and insects.
A hole in a tree is used as a nesting site where 3-4 eggs are laid.
The call is single note what that it utters in a questioning tone for about 15 mins at a stretch during the night