Winter in peninsular India, and particularly along the coast, is always for the namesake. But this year was an odd exception. The winter was cold – cold for this part of the world that lies between tropic of cancer and the equator. It is La Nina to be thanked for this pleasant weather, just as she blessed the parched Western Ghats with good amount of rain.
Winter here usually starts with what is technically called an Indian summer – a rather unsympathetically hot spell of crazy high temperatures, coupled with double the humidity. As the nights grow longer by the hour, the temperatures fall, staying usually well above 20C.
This year, the temperatures fell to a record 15C in the city limits. In rural corners, where the hills are tall and woods thick, the temperatures may have fallen below 10C. But this rarely gets recorded. Warm clothes were out of the wardrobe. Those who never imagined a cold winter walk to work in their lifetime had to buy warm clothes. People kept the fans off. Electricity bills plummeted. Winter had arrived. This is winter – or close to what winter should be, I thought.
Come summer, and most of these water bodies will dry out. The migratory birds will have fed, mated, and moved on to their breeding grounds up north, to as far as northern Africa, Russia and Europe.
|Velvet Ant - Mutillidae|
Although called Velvet Ant, these are true wasps in the family Mutillidae. Only the females lack wings, and prefer a solitary life of a hiker, but she’s not defenseless. Females in this family are known for their painful sting! We respected her space, and only when she stopped to sense the two strange animals surrounding her, did she pose for a photograph.
|Delta esuriens - Potter Wasp|
|Apis florea - Dwarf Honey Bee|
The Harvester Ants in the genus Pheidole build intricate, spiral, maze-like ramparts surrounding the central main tunnel that bores into their underground colony. These structures are usually built in wet months, when the soil is moist and easy to mold. During drier periods, their entrances are barely a centimeter wide, and inconspicuous in appearance except for the tell-tale sign of heaps of discarded husks along the entrances.
|Tajuria cippus - Peacock Royal|
|A Rove Beetle|
|Argiope anasuja - Signature Spider|
|A Spider's retreat on a dead dragonfly's wing|
Spiders in the family Tetragnathidae and Nephilidae are still around as well, but not for long; however the diversity of Salticids has reduced.
|Ardea cinerea - Grey Heron|
The next year has been proposed as the International Year of Water Cooperation. Under it, I only hope for the greatest initiatives (at local and global level) that must be undertaken focusing on water, for it is the source of all life on the only planet we know.