It was the peak of monsoon in July 2014 and I was trekking to a small waterfall located inside the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats. Even in the company of my fellow trekkers, I tend to keep an eye for interesting macro subjects to photograph, both along and away from the trail. This trail to the waterfall was truly wild at this time of the year, teeming with spiders, butterflies, plant hoppers, flies, slugs, snails, cicadas, and many more life forms.
A few metres into the trail, I spotted an individual of the magnificent Indrella ampulla, a terrestrial snail endemic to the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. Indrella ampulla can be seen in large numbers in some regions of the Western Ghats during the monsoon season. I took a few shots of this red morph and went ahead on the trail. A second individual that I came across intrigued me more and I decided to take a closer look at what was really going on there. Up close, I saw that it was not just the snail there but a tiny fly as well, its neighbour from these forests. A drama was unfolding right before my eyes: as the snail was descending a twig, a drop of mucus was rolling off a gland near its mouth and gaining weight to become a globule. While such drops of mucus remain suspended, tiny flies sit on it and feed, until it becomes heavier and ultimately drips off. I felt very fortunate to witness this amazing natural history moment, and be able to capture it on camera. I spent almost an hour observing this behaviour, until the snail finally landed on the ground, making the fly realise that it was time for it to move on. Being left behind from the group and exploring has often turned out rewarding for me as a photographer.
The image won Shashwat Jaiswal a Special Mention in the Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Photography Awards 2015.