Can you identify the mystery object?
This is a 'gripe post'.
You know the sort: someone working in one of the world's most beautiful places rants about the ghastly field conditions they must endure daily.
It's all a front, of course, so you won't realise what a great time they're really having.
You may remember that - back in April - heavy rain brought on an explosion of wildflowers. Well, all those lovely flowers have now gone to seed. And all those unlovely seeds are enmeshed in my socks.
I know what you're thinking: a pathetic excuse for a gripe. You haven't seen my socks. Actually you can't see my socks. The fabric is totally obscured under a solid mat of plant progeny. After a morning in the field, my boot laces are two inches wide; a knobbly testament to the fecundity of the local flora.
I've nothing against seeds per se, the problem is their dispersal paraphernalia. Within my socks are seeds armed with barbs, thorns and spikes, seeds shaped like tiny harpoons, seeds fortified with spurs, claws and hooks and seeds whose long, twisted awns screw their needle-tips into the flesh. And then there are the burs so dire you can't touch them without drawing blood.
These horrific little seeds, only 2mm long, are the evil spawn of a prolific ground-cover. They're so tough and microscopically sharp they embed in anything, forming large spiky wads on the soles of boots and car tyres.
Blue waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) use plumes of seeding grass to court their lady love, performing a baton-twirling dance of bobbing, jumping and head-nodding. But if they tangle with the wrong seeds, the results can be fatal. Photo by Arno Meintjes and borrowed from here.
A few days ago I came across a second victim. I think it was a juvenile mannikin, but I was too busy trying to release it quickly to identify it properly (or to take in-focus photos!).
These small burs stick with great tenacity. You can see the young mannikin dangling upside down.