IT is always a pleasure to watch and if possible, photograph owls. Owls are one of nature’s marvelous creations that we all adore and respect. The role of owls in the natural cycle is indispensable. They play an important role in rodent and insect population control and owls carry out this role in a most efficient manner.
In South India, Spotted Owlet is one of the commonest owls and you can almost always see them here, there and everywhere. They are often heard shrieking and screeching at night, as they go about their night life. At day time often it is difficult to spot them since they remain inside their roosting holes or in dense tree canopy.
I and Suresh live at a residential location in North Bangalore and we were always aware of a pair of Spotted Owlets in the vicinity and an occasionally seen Barn Owl also. Sometimes at night we hear the Spotted Owlets shrieking and we used to come out to have a look and SMS each other about the owls. To me, when I hear the owls suddenly screeching and calling outside my window, I feel it is the Spirit of The Wilderness that is calling to me, in a most sensational and personal way. Many a time we both used to scout the streets in the dead of the night after hearing a Barn Owl calling somewhere in the vicinity.
In June 2006 during my regular late night walks with my pet Labrador Brownie I noticed the pair of Spotted Owlets frequently perched in the same electric post or a nearby tree. There were several open drainage pits and an abundance of rodents in the area, and the owls might have found it to be a great place to be. For the next 3-4 weeks both Suresh and self visited the owls on alternate days and were delighted to find them always in presence. They also seemed to be quite punctual, in that even if we went to see them a minute or two before 9PM we didn’t see them, but almost always when our watches showed 9PM, they appeared from nowhere and used to remain in the area for the next couple of hours.
We always carried our photo equipment with us in addition to torchlight when going out to see the owls. It might seem difficult to be able to focus at the owls in pitch dark, but we managed focusing by using the torchlight. With the help of the light from the torch the camera didn’t have much difficulty in achieving focus, and then we just used to click away.
Seeing us regularly with the photo equipment on the street at night the residents of the nearby houses used to come out and watch us, and when they put up a question or two about our purpose (they obviously at first had no clue what we are photographing) we enlightened them to the presence of the owls and they in turn were really interested and brought out their children too to watch these two wonderful birds of the night.
Here I am glad to present you with some of the several photographs we made of the owls during the 4 weeks that we followed them. I used to see the owls during entire July even after we had stopped photographing them, but when August came we lost touch with them as they were nowhere to be seen. However these days very occasionally we hear them outside our windows, shrieking and calling, living their night life to the fullest. May they live and multiply on this earth, for generations to see and admire.