I knelt and looked between the leaves of a plant. But from that angle, it was easy to see the giant African land snail in the featured photo. On the other hand, I completely missed the snail that appears in the lower photo: look near the middle of the bottom edge of the photo below. The shell is brown, with what looks like white spots. The body of the snail is black. The mushroom heads were about a centimeter across. The whole snail cannot be more than a millimeter long.
It was sheer luck that I got it. The better your camera’s lens, the more you can see! Does anyone know about microscopic snails? Any ID? I’m no good at this.
Saturday night I fell asleep to the sound of thunder and very hard rain. We’d planned a simple trek, just the two of us, to a hill fort outside Mumbai on Sunday morning. The rattling of windows in a proper monsoon storm woke me before the alarm. I looked out of the window and decided to cancel our plans. Even if the rain stopped, as it briefly did soon after sunrise, the ground would have turned to mush, and the mountainside would be slick with water. Not the easiest conditions for a walk.
After a cup of tea, The Family decided to go for a walk around the complex. It has been an odd monsoon. Very high winds, many dry spells, but normal rainfall on the average. The result is that several trees have fallen, and lots of branches and twigs have been shaken off others. These have been piled up next to paths, waiting for final disposal at the end of the monsoon. Today the lawns and playgrounds between buildings were flooded.
On a tree quite a way above my head, I saw one of the exotic giant snails which usually hide below shrubs and fallen leaves. This climate refugee must have started its journey early, but it was far from the only one. The half hour walk yielded so many creatures that The Family threatened to leave me on my own if I stopped again to take a photo of nameless creatures. I must have really tried her patience, because she was impermeable to my argument that each climate refugee has a story worth listening to.
O bruit doux de la pluie Par terre et sur les toits! Pour un coeur qui s’ennuie, O le chant de la pluie !
Il pleure sans raison Dans ce coeur qui s’écoeure. Quoi ! nulle trahison ? Ce deuil est sans raison.
Paul Verlaine (Il pleure dan mon coeur)
Oh sweet sound of rain Ground and on rooftops! For a heart that is bored, O the song of the rain!
He cries for no reason In this sickening heart. What! no treason ? This grief is without reason.
Paul Verlaine (It rains in my heart)
Here is a small selection of creatures which were trying to get away from their flooded homes. The colourful millipede is extremely common along the west coast of India, and perhaps even further afield (It is Anoplodesmus saussurii. Thanks for the ID, NN; it is no longer nameless). Unfortunately there is no go-to field guide which would let me identify it. It is a creature that lurks in leaf litter, and quite innocuous. The small brown snail was new to me. It had crawled out of the pool below a tree on to a giant bracket fungus growing on the trunk. I don’t know how many kinds of slugs you find around Mumbai, but I’m sure I’ve seen this species before.
Back home after the walk, I checked my phone for messages. There was a forwarded message from the Municipal corporation saying that the main water purification plant for the city had been damaged. Flood waters had breached the pipes, and citizens were advised to boil water for drinking. Are these episodic extreme rain events due to climate change? If yes, then are we beginning to see the conditions that will eventually force us to join the ranks of climate displacees?
It has been a rainy weekend. The heavy monsoon rains continued into yesterday, and looks like it will remain. I always think of July as peak monsoon. To check, I went back to my photos of early July. It is true, most of my photos from this week for the past fifteen years are memories of being cooped up at home for days due to rain. I rediscovered one of my early mobile camera photos: this one of the invasive giant African land snail (Achatina fulica). I knew it spread fast, but I was surprised to find that it is counted among the top 100 invasive species in the world. I guess we are number one. Here’s looking at you, cousin.
The days pass very slowly. We have to wait till November to get to the mountains. Six weeks before we get to 4000 meters above mean sea level. It seems to be the right time to dig out a photo of this slow invader: the giant african land snail, which seems to have invaded India.