17 August 2009

Swear words and a birthday brunch

Today is our human brother Philip's 23rd birthday! He is coming to a brunch so we needed a shorter walk and decided on the Swear Word Mountain Walk. The Alpha Male had some new swearwords and some hooting for the barbed-wire and security camera houses at the top of the road that have put up "no parking" signs as if they owned the verge and the mountain as well as their hideous houses. We didn't even deign to bark at their stupid dogs. Look at me and Thea and Sue not deigning to bark while we waited for the others to park halfway down Price Drive. We climbed up the path past some plants that had been conveniently labelled by the Friends of Vlakkenberg and saw this longicorn beetle on Aspalathus astroites which was in full flower all the way up. Apparently the beetle, Ceroplesis aethiops from the family Cerambycidae, may be a bit of a pest for rooibos farmers. The view over Constantia towards False Bay. (Lots of oohing)Toiling up the cliff. Us scotts were right up at the front with the Alpha Male who likes to go fast.
Tea at the top with Thea, Alpha M, Sue, me and Dougal, Alice and Pauline. No beetles in the rooibos tea and no rusks but there was some rather untasty (for us) carrot cake and dates and some rather boring Beano biscuits. Looking forward to the spoils of brunch.
Back on the trail. This is not a squashed green hedgehog in the path, but a plant called Arctopus echinatus. If you could speak Ancient Greek and Latin you would call it a Spiny Bear's Foot as arktos is Greek for "bear", and pous is Greek for "foot" (yes it is!) and echinatus is Latin for "spiny". The male (below, left photo)
and female (right) plants are separate and it belongs to the carrot family.On the way down the Food Lady saw a Eucharitid wasp on Polygala bracteolata. (Poly is from the Greek for “many” and gala from “milk” because of the supposed property of the European species to increase the milk yield of cows. In Britain – they are called milkworts.)
And later at the brunch...the birthday boy with Alice. and me getting some attention from Alice and Arti.
Thanks to Dawn Larsen of the SA Museum for insect ids.

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