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Ashwin Hebbar

Swift Rescue







Taken on 8 December at home in Nellore. The photos are really bad...sorry :(

District administration sounded a high alert along the coast following forecast of the possibility of a low pressure system crossing between Kavali and Bapatla on the evening of 8th December, 2010 and feared the resulting downpour, to the extent of 20 to 40 cms at the time of crossing, would flood the district. 
The days that preceded were the coldest from a long time and three farmers succumbed to the cold wave in the district and we had a strange visitor who refused to leave our warm house!
A little Swift! Not the car but a little blue-black bird with huge eyes, a white patch at the throat and at the rump. It was in the hands of some kids playing in the corridor who were trying to get it to fly out into the open. They then planned to leave it on some bush outside. Something told my son and me that it would not last the night out in the cold. Just then it flew in through our main door into our house!
Measured in straight flight, the spine-tailed swift is the fastest bird. It flies 170 km/h (106 mph). They never settle voluntarily on the ground and  forage exclusively in flight. They have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces.

They go into torpor in cool weather and we think that is what happened to our little visitor.Due to the cold wave it had entered into a period of sluggish inactivity, suspended physical activity, or dormancy, as seen in a hibernating animal. 
We settled it down in a shoe-box for the night and released it with successfully the next morning into bright sunlight. 
The storm fizzled out in the Bay and didn't hit Nellore at all!    




© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved



Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

Sunshine Mountains



Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves.


Papi hills at noon. 
The lady of the mountain (in the third hazy range) getting a golden tan, lying there under the hot noon sun. Thank God it's November! Can you spot her?


© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved


Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

Eastern Sunset





Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves.


Sunset over the Eastern Ghats.

Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

Sailing with the Wind




Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves.


© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved


Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

Golden Silk Weaver - 2








Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves

Dorsal view of Nephila pilipes jalorensis / India Giant Wood Spider or golden silk orb-weaver spiders, Papi Hills, Andhra Pradesh.

View Golden Silk Weaver-1 for all details regarding the species.


Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

Golden Silk Weaver - 1



Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves


Ventral view of Nephila pilipes jalorensis / India Giant Wood Spider or golden silk orb-weaver spiders, Papi Hills, Andhra Pradesh.


Females are large and grow to a body size of 30-50mm, with males growing to 5–6 mm. The male is so tiny that he can live on the female's web, stealing her food, often without her even noticing him. She may not even notice that he has crept up and inseminated her! Nevertheless, just to be sure, he usually does the deed when she is feeding. In some, mating can take up to 15 hours! The female lives only slightly longer than the male.

The web can run from the top of a tree 6m high and up to 2m wide. The name of the golden silk orb-weavers refers to the color of the spider silk, not the color of the spider itself. Yellow threads of their web shine like gold in sunlight. Maybe the silk's color serves a dual purpose
  • sunlit webs ensnare bees that are attracted to the bright yellow strands, 
  • in shady spots the yellow blends in with background foliage to act as a camouflage


The spider is able to adjust pigment intensity relative to background light levels and color; the range of spectral reflectance is specifically adapted to insect vision. Xanthurenic acid, two quinones and an unknown fourth compound contribute to the yellow color.
Typically, the webs are made in open woods or edges of dense forest, usually attached to trees and low shrubs, although they may be in the tops of trees or between the wires of utility lines (Krakauer 1972). These complex webs have a fine-meshed sticky orb suspended in a non-sticky barrier web.  The orb is replenished regularly as its stickiness declines with age but the main web can last several years Prey consists of a wide variety of small to medium-sized flying insects, including flies, bees, wasps, and small moths and butterflies (Robinson and Mirick 1971).

The female buries her eggs in the ground. First she digs a shallow hole with her strong mandibles and legs, which is then lined with woolly silk. She lays her eggs on this silk, covers it with another woolly layer then covers the whole assembly with camouflaging debris and soil. Laying can take 4 hours

How We Humans Use These Webs

Fishing :  In the South Pacific, the web silk is used to make fishing lures, traps and nets. In the Solomon Islands, the spider web is collected by winding it around sticks to make large sticky balls which are suspended just above the water. Needle fish are lured to jump out and get entangled in the ball. In Southeast Asia, people make a net by scooping up the web between a stick bent into a loop. Spider webs have been used as bandage to stop blood flow and used to make bird snares. 

Silk of strength : The Golden Orb Web Spider's silk is set to become a major product. The silk is almost as strong as Kevlar, the strongest man-made material and can be used to make 
  • parachutes
  • bullet-proof vests, 
  • lightweight clothing, 
  • seat belts,
  •  light but strong ropes, 
  • as sutures in operations, 
  • artificial tendons and ligaments.
In the American Museum of Natural History, a piece of cloth is on exhibit that has been woven from golden silk from over 1 million golden orb female spiders.



© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved

Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

Munivaatam Falls of the Papi Hills






Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves


At Perantalapalli, a remote tribal village, on top of a hill is a Shiva temple established by Sri Balananda Swamiji in the year 1927. He worked for the development of the locals  Konda Koyas and Konda Reddies. The temple and the ashram ‘Sri Krishna Munivaatam’ has given the falls its name. The idol of Shiva here has a serpent shade over it. History has it that Balananda Swamy while travelling down the river from Rajhmadry to Bhadrachalam, stayed for the night at Perantalapalli. As he enjoyed the moonlit night on the sandy banks of River Godavari, a lady appeared before him and lead him to a spot where a hooded Shiva idol rested in a thicket of bushes next to a flowing stream. He decided to construct a temple at that spot. Since no priest would perform pooja in this remote place, the local tribes took over. Eating meat and hunting are not allowed in the vicinity of the temple. Complete silence is a prerequisite during the visit. In 1969, David Adam, a young British national, became a disciple of the Swamiji and has lived in Perantalapalli till recently.


© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved


Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

A Cruise Up The Godavari River


The cruise up the river started at Rajahmundry. These boats have AC cabins on the lower deck and an open air seating arrangement on the upper. The ethereal scenery of the Papi Hills and the dense jungles that cover it are quite like the scenes one sees in Kashmir.



The Godavari, which runs from the west to the south of India, has a big river basins in Andhra Pradesh. The Coringa mangrove forests in the delta are the second largest mangrove formation in the country acting as a barrier against cyclones, tropical storms and tidal waves protecting villages on the coast. Part of this has been declared a sanctuary,  the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, and is renown for its reptiles.  With a length of 1465 km, it is India's second longest river. It originates near Trimbak in Maharashtra state and flows east across the Deccan Plateau into the Bay of Bengal near Narasapuram in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.



The Papi Kondalu (hills) got its name from the word Papidi meaning 'the partition on the crown of a woman's head. The Papi range splits the river Godavari. There is a story in history that says that a demon, Papi, tried to stop the river but Godaviri with all her might killed the demon by tearing up a path on its head to flow on.



Untouched nature at her best with picture postcard prettiness of a hilly countryside patch-worked with quaint little farms, a landscape dotted with tribal habitations and river banks densely forested with Teak, Arjun and Rose Wood. The waterfalls at Munivaatam is an added attraction.









If the Government finishes the construction of Polavaram Project, the entire Papi Hills and its jungles will be submerged in water. The Polavaram project or the Indira Sagar, is a mega project (Rs 13,500 crore) envisaging the construction of a dam across Godavari river, linking two rivers, Krishna and Godavari, to  develop a vast irrigation system that would cover 15 out of 23 districts in Andhra Pradesh. It would  generate 960 MW of electricity.

Polavaram dam will submerge a total area of 38,186 hectares
  • 22,882 hectares of rain-fed agricultural land, 
  • 12,801 hectares of what is called ‘poramboke’/government or wasteland, and 
  • 3,223 hectares of forest land. 
Officially, over 276 tribal villages in the agency areas of East and West Godavari districts and Khammam district (of which 274 are in the Fifth Schedule area) will be submerged. The project will also submerge villages in Orissa and Chhattisgarh.


The Ecological Impact

Endangered species not found in submergible area. The submergible area includes 107 Hec, of Teak plantation, of 1927 to 1973.  The riverbed is breeding and feeding area for crocodile and other aquatic animals, while the adjacent forests harbour many other wild animals.  The area of proposed submergence abound in rich wild life and threatened species life Tiger, Panther, bison, blackbuck Chousingha - Crocodile Pythons peafowl etc.  The damage to wild life habitat is irretrievable. 
The area also containing good timber and bamboo forest and is a source of raw material for adjacent forest based industries as local and Urban population the project will effect forest 730 hectares of wildlife sanctuary including the riverbed which forms breeding ground for crocodiles pre-impoundment conditions are ideal for breeding crocodile and gharial. The prospects of Crocodile farming can be assessed only after survey of post impoundment conditions. The damage to scenic value of the natural forest will be apparent.
Source: Polavaram Project: Environmental Impact appraisal Report, Irrigation Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad May, 1985.

Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves.






© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved

Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

My Son's Araku Experience

The Araku Valley

Wild Flowers in the Valley

A Tribal Village

A Elderly Tribal Couple with Aakash

Smiling Faces

Coffee Berries

Bee-Keeping


Taken by my son, Aakash, November, 2010, during a bike trip of about 2400 km from Kadapa to Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Vizag, Araku and the Borra Caves.

The Araku valley, located on the Anatagiri hills, at a height of 1,161 mts from Sea Level, is the place with great natural scenery and greenery. The Valley located 112-Km from Visakhapatnam is home to 17 tribes quite untouched by modern civilisations. Their rhythmic tribal songs and dances, the Dhimsa dance in particular, are marvelous. They cultivate coffee and are good apiarists.






© Nalini Hebbar/saycheese/2009-all rights reserved



Explore my PoetryBlog : http://nalinihebbar-poetry.blogspot.com

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