Mottled Wood Owl Pair
Mottled Wood Owl is a rarity in North India. There is a forest near our village peermuchhalla under Punjab Forests Department. It was our routine to visit this place everyday in the morning. It was in February 2020, I first spotted a pair this bird in this forest. Forest has mostly thorny trees of Khair (Senegalia catechu is a deciduous, thorny tree) and is prized for Kattha used in Paan. This tree has very haphazard thorny branches.
I recalled then having missed the bird group earlier on many occasions in deeper woods. After this one bird was spotted in March 2020. Then one fine day, i heard a commotion and frantic calls of drongos, crows and treepies amidst a thick group of trees at the entrance of the park. On close inspection, these birds were hovering over the trunk of a dead tree whose top portion has broken off and a hollow has formed.
As I approached the tree, thinking that there might be some reptile inside, suddenly the bird flew away from the hollow. After that it became clear that they have chosen this hollow open to skies as the nest for breeding. Another reason for choosing this hollow tree might be the big garbage dump in the vicinity of the forest where rodents must be in plenty.
Slowly as the time went by, one could go and spot one from pair always sitting inside the leafy canopy of nearby trees.
By May 20, the two chicks began to be seen looking out of the hollow. As one of the owls was away one was permanently posted nearby.
As it became known to the bird enthusiasts all over, they began visiting with big cameras to take pictures. They became sort of celebrity birds. By June the chicks were out having taken their first hesitating flight to perch near their parents on the nearby tree.
After few days they finally disappeared. After some months the tree unfortunately fell down.
Then again by the end of the year, second wave of covid came and we stopped going out. But in June 2021, I was there at the farther end of the forest to avoid mixing with the people in the main park, thanks again to the ever vigilant crows, drongos as I was passing under a big tree, the bird again flew away. After that, it was with surety I could spot either one of the pair or the pair itself in that tree. This went on at least for entire June 2021. After that they shifted to another place because I spotted one of them again into the deep inside of the forest.
I think they must have visited the tree again but not finding it there must be looking for alternative spot for nest. But I never spotted them again during my sporadic visits.