Michael Viney’s Christmas quiz: test your nature knowledge

Another Life: 40 questions to answer, plus 40 solutions, to see how much you know

Michael Viney’s Christmas quiz, question 27: what is the name of this flowering alien invader of Irish riverbanks?

Michael Viney’s Christmas quiz, question 27: what is the name of this flowering alien invader of Irish riverbanks?

 

Questions

1 How many sides has a snowflake: (a) six, (b) eight or (c) 12?

2 The family of Troglodytidae, or “cave dwellers”, includes which Irish bird awarded regal Christmas status?

3 Which wild mammal, stuffed with herbs and wrapped with bacon, was regular country Christmas fare before the 1950s?

4 Which mountain on the Irish Border now has a wooden path to the summit?

5 What, if not storms, heaved back big stone slabs on high cliff tops of Arranmore?

6 Two 6m specimens of Architeuthis dux were landed at Dingle this summer: which kind of deep-water species?

7 Which secretive waterbird of marshland has a call like a squealing piglet?

8 What bits of purple moor grass justify its name?

9 Ireland’s pygmy shrew has teeth tipped with which colour? (a) red (b) green or (c) black.

10 Which Arctic whale has a spiral tooth up to 3m long?

11 Which little insects hitch a ride on bumblebees to feed in their nests?

12 Scratches low on tree trunks are signs of which mammal sharpening its claws?

13 Bluebells imported from which country sometimes come out pink?

14 Which winter birds from Scandinavia seek out Ireland’s cotoneaster berries?

15 Which is Ireland’s one protected flying insect: (a) blue emperor dragonfly (b) red-tailed bumblebee or (c) marsh fritillary butterfly?

16 In which Ulster county is the dark beech avenue of Game of Thrones?

17 Ireland’s oldest known tree, in Wexford, with fluted form and reddish bark, is of which species?

18 Which alien venomous spider is now established in Dublin suburbs?

19 Fear of spiders is which phobia?

20 What is the common name of which urchin shell, white and fragile, that washes ashore in winter?

21 Which unusual geometric mushroom, in evidence this wet autumn, has a common name linking cosmic bodies?

22 Starlings in late summer can have yellow heads, from probing for nectar past pollen of which spiky flowering shrub?

23 It hovers at flowers like a hummingbird, but what is it really?

24 Tideline clusters of pale egg capsules, like old-fashioned bath sponges, come from which shellfish: (a) oyster (b) razorfish or (c) whelk?

25 Black flies flying slowly in March, legs trailing, are named for which saint’s day?

26 Which native mammal in Ulster is threatened by hybridisation with an alien relative?

27 Which flowering plant, invading Irish riverbanks, originated on Asian mountain streams? The illustration above the start of this quiz should help.

28 Large native mussels in lakes and canals are named for which waterbird?

29 Plainseog is the western Irish name for which mountain berry: (a) bilberry (b) crowberry or (c) cranberry?

30 “Curled up and sleeping, nose to furry tail, like a strokeable netsuke”: which little alien?

31 Elasmobranchs are fish without what to give them shape?

32 What scientific name has been coined for the new, human-dominated era of the planet?

33 Nephrops norvegicus, trawled from muddy seabeds, is misnamed on the menu as which Irish crustacean?

34 Pink salmon spreading from a distant Russian introduction are turning up off western Ireland. To which ocean are they native?

35 Farmland classified as HNV has what conservation merit?

36 Cat crainn is the Irish name for which Irish mammal?

37 Wetland long drained at Durrow, Co Laois, was known until 1900 for which wintering bird: (a) bittern (b) crane or (c) Bewick’s swan?

38 Co Dublin has more than 70 kinds of Taraxacum. Which common weed is this?

39 What is the name of the bubbly algal growth that appears on gravel paths in wet autumns: (a) ascophyllum (b) porphyra or (c) nostoc?

40 Tumblers, pouters and trumpeters are kinds of which fancy bird?

Answers

1 (a). 2 Wren. 3 Rabbit. 4 Cuilcagh. 5 Tsunami. 6 Giant squid. 7 Water rail. 8 Flowers. 9 (a). 10 Narwhal. 11 Mites. 12 Badger. 13 Spain. 14 Waxwings. 15 Marsh fritillary. 16 Armagh. 17 Yew. 18 False widow. 19 Arachnophobia. 20 Sea potato. 21 Earth star. 22 New Zealand flax. 23 Hummingbird hawkmoth. 24 Whelk. 25 St Mark. 26 Irish hare. 27 Himalayan balsam. 28 Swan. 29 Crowberry. 30 Dormouse. 31 Bones. 32 Anthropocene. 33 Dublin Bay prawn. 34 Pacific. 35 High nature value. 36 Pine marten. 37 Bittern. 38 Dandelion. 39 (c). 40 Pigeon.

Michael Viney’s Reflections on Another Life, a selection of columns from the past four decades, is available from irishtimes.com/irishtimesbooks; viney@anu.ie

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