One of my favorite Birds- Spotted Owlet

Found it in Shivalik Arboretum

Aaryan Bhalla
7 min readJun 15, 2021

This was the situation with most of us when the Covid-19 lockdown caught us off guard in March 2020 even till now, and after much struggle and obstacles were finally moving smoothly. I was fretting over the completion of my thesis and finally, now, I have given in and went back to doing the thing I love the most—birding!

I’m doing cycling 🚴‍♀️ these days when I saw Shivalik Arboretum near Transport lights, Madhya Marg and I came to know that it is always open to the public. A fantastic place and bliss for birdwatchers and nature lovers which is spreading over an area of 11.115 acres. Surrounded by trees, long bamboo, medicinal plants, and bushes all around that’s why it’s named arboretum. 🌳🌳

The main entrance to Shivalik Arboretum
The department had developed earthen tracks on which local people can walk and enjoy a healthy environment.

Birds chirping in all directions as birds are most active around dawn and dusk…Nice place for joggers and runners too. They are nature trails only. A nice initiative by the forest department, Chandigarh took up the challenging task of converting this barren land into vegetative land. 🐦

Due to the sincere efforts of the department, a green belt has been developed. One should go there once if possible.

Zoom…zoom, and zoom. Peacock 🦚🦚 roaming in a flock, enjoying the company of a collared dove.
Rose-ringed parakeet (Female)
A Eurasian Collared-Dove on a peepal tree.

The whole vegetation is covered with several Babblers and parakeets, Peacocks dancing, Drongos flying, Prinias shouting, Magpie robin singing songs, and one more I always wanted to see- The owlet. One of my favorite birds- Spotted Owlet. Visit the venue a few days or weeks before the walk, to get me an idea of the birdlife there and familiarize myself with the habitat and species expected to be seen there.

Oriental Magpie Robin (Male)
Coppersmith Barbet with distinctive head patterns, a red throat and breast, and streaked underparts with yellow patches.

This is especially important if I have not birded at that location before, and this will also give me an idea of the time it will take to cover the arboretum for birding.

Credits: Simmi Warriach Ma’am; Seems Sleepy and Lazy 😪😃
Credits: Pushkar Bali Sir; Two for joy!

Nice... I have never been lucky to spot an actual owl before.....Though I have spotted many owls in human form.........😇 But fortunately, some months back I was roaming in the park with my dad when I actually first time observed the spotted owlet late at night. And, however, I always wanted to capture it in my camera. 📸📸

Credits: Karmannye Chaudhary (Featured image also); owlet from Nagar Van.
Credits: Sarabjit Singh Bhinder; This species is nocturnal but is sometimes seen in the day. When disturbed from their daytime site, they bob their heads and stare at intruders.

One of my favorite birds- The spotted owlet was considered the "bird of the day." as it was observed for the time ever in the arboretum. I observed two of them while I heard them and became my favorite bird. 🤔☺️

Pic of my own: An adult owl with scary shining red eyes.

The video was shot in quite tough conditions while little raining, as I also had to face the same showers 🌧, but happy to record this beautiful moment of their calls. 😄💦

The call is a harsh and loud churring and chuckling chirurr-chirurr-chirurr ending with a chirwak-chirwak and a variety of other screeches and chuckles. They call mainly during early dawn or just after sunset. Click the link above and listen to the calls of the bird. 🎶🎶

Credits: Vishal Sharma; It has random white spots on its head, narrow white barring on its tail, and a yellow iris.

But, I heard a call which I had never heard before. Cute, small, harshly and screechy calls from the Woods while recording birds of the green belt…Saw two of the spotted owlets, maybe male and female having a nest probably, they were making their best effort to see me clearly dancing up and down...up and down the branches, bobbing, and rotating their necks with belfry sits. 😅

They were bobbing their heads and staring at me, I felt like an intruder when I visited their habitat.
pic captured from my camera.
Pic from my mobile

They were almost merging with the background of a dead tree with no leaves. Had seen The barn owls. But, They looked were very royal. They are the most common owls found here in the gardens, well-worded areas, and near human habitations.

Credits: Mr. Manish Juahar; They have well adapted to living in cities. They roost in small groups in the hollows of trees or in cavities

Apparently, they are the most common owls one can see. But their yellowish iris was mind-blowing. Owlets made my day and I was very happy.

I have my many friends who are very serious about “birding” oozing with their fantastic images of the owlet. A competition where I love to lose from them. Thanks, everyone for helping me get these wonderful photographs.

Credits: Mrs. Saroj Gulati Ma’am; A dozy pair again from Nagar Van.
Credits: Mrs. Saroj Gulati Ma’am; Looks Angry
Credits: Mr. Gurjeet Virk; A sincere and cute one, Oh! No, I can't fit in the hole.
Credits: Mr. Subhash Sapru sir; A नखरा from one
Credits: Mr. Vikas Salil Sharma sir; very vigorous
Credits: Mr. Vikas Sharma Sir; Good morning dear Birdie.
Credits: Vishal Sharma

Flowering plants planted along the tracks give a beautiful look to the Shivalik Arboretum, which also attracts sunbirds; one can hear the peafowls, loud cries of these magnificent birds that often pay locals a visit, especially during the rains, long trees accommodating coucals with little volume calls, parakeets, black kites, and Flameback and the rest of the common birds. You can walk with few sounds around you. The best place to be alone while walking.

A Greater Coucal calling with a series of deep, resonant “oop-oop-oop” notes.
Lesser gold back with all-over golden underparts and white spotting on black throat extending the whole body, also having black rump. It is one of the few common woodpeckers that are seen in urban areas.
Jungle Mynas, Near Kalagram just opp. to Arboretum (Pic from my mobile)
God has painted a beautiful painting every day with the same sun (after raining at 7 am)

While cycling in the nature trails along tracks. Was cloudy…. hard to get good pics, a few dark clouds were forming. And finally, the heavy torrential rain spoiled everything. I also noted white-breasted Waterhens, Shikras, Cattle egrets, swallows, Indian pitta, and Jacobin Cuckoo for the first time many more. One can click the link and see the whole checklist!!…

Jacobin Cuckoo spotted first time ever in the arboretum.

Harbinger of the monsoon rains:
Another one more addition to an ever-growing list.
Chatak, this bird heralds the onset of the monsoon in India. Being an agricultural economy, the rainy season is considered one of the most auspicious seasons in the country. And so, the Pied Cuckoo in North and Central India is a welcome sight for monsoon.

Red Rumped Swallow on a wire, forages over open areas.
Interpretive boards showing information about the flora and campa plantation presented at the Shivalik Arboretum.

But exploring Chandigarh and its beauty is absolutely great in lockdown and especially through cycling, perhaps birding is also an escape for many who find themselves stuck in their busy schedules, but irrespective of where we are, we can all enjoy and contribute to the understanding of birds and nature. That’s how I have always dreamt to be in this place.

These are just once-in-a-lifetime moments and I am happy that I got to capture them. Thanks to everyone who are Birdwatching and the passionate few who are Birding. May we continue this tryst with nature always….🙏😃😃

I hope you all enjoyed it and I would love to hear about your views. Don’t forget to follow me on medium, share, comment, and clap.
Stay tuned for more updates… Stay home & stay safe, and try visiting places near you!!

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Aaryan Bhalla

Nature and birds Lover, Traveller, & musician..☺️☺️