Michael Viney’s Christmas quiz: Test your nature knowledge

Fifty brain teasers on all things natural from sealife to flora and what tofu is made of

Question 20: Which alien mammal climbs trees in rural Cork?

Question 20: Which alien mammal climbs trees in rural Cork?

 

1. All but one of these berries are used in new Irish “botanical” gins: sloe, hawthorn, ivy, blackberry, elderberry, fraughan. Which would be a mistake?

2. Quince and medlar belong to which fruit family? (a) Apple (b) Peach (c) Pear

3. “Our shells clacked on the plates. My tongue was a filling estuary.” What was Séamus Heaney eating?

4. Which buds of a tropical flower make a hot toddy spicy?

5. Which winter nibble left abundant shells in the debris of Viking Dublin?

6. Wood hedgehogs, penny buns and lawyer’s wigs are edible kinds of what?

7. Bilberry, crowberry, lingonberry and bearberry all grow on Irish bogs. True or false?

8. Tofu will be a common ingredient of vegan Christmas cooking. What is it made from?

9. Our whooper swans of winter fly in from which country?

10. Gaze-a-Marie is a French name for the silken threads that carry small spiders through the air. What are the threads called in English?

11. The smallest rorqual off our coasts is named for which Norwegian seaman?

12. “Their knickers were made of crepe de chine, their shoes were made of python,/ Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with heads of bison”. Lines by which Irish poet?

13. An organic species called nostoc spreads dark and rubbery goo on wet paths and lawns. Is it (a) lichen (b) alga or (c) slime mould?

14. Coppiced rods spring from the stump of a felled tree; where do pollard poles grow from?

15. Which of the cetaceans had the name of “herring-hog”?

16. Which Sligo hills are named for birds now rarely found nesting there?

17. Three-fourths of Ireland’s soil organic carbon are held in which kind of landscape? (a) forests (b) grasslands (c) bogs

18. For which global species would Sir David Attenborough urge a smaller population?

19. The gillaroo is (a) a young hare (b) a marsh wader or (c) a kind of trout?

20. Which tree-climbing predator, imported as a pet (see drawing), has joined local wildlife in some parts of southwest Ireland?

21. “Bonxie” is a birders’ name for which fierce bully of a northern Atlantic seabird, now breeding on some western islands?

22. Common, soprano and Nathusius’s are all kinds of which Irish mammal?

23. Bog-deal is the excavated wood of which tree?

24. A handsome bird of our winter coasts is the “loon” of America. Our name is what?

25. Buckler, stag’s head and hart’s tongue are kinds of which Irish plant?

26. “Its fine wattle of brittle stalks couched and housed my forefinger” in which nest explored by poet Sean Lysaght?

27. Which sucker-mouthed river fish moves stones around to make a nest?

28. In a scientist’s view of the ocean, where is the benthos?

29. Which scientist gave us the theory of Earth as “Gaia”?

30. On hill-streams, which bird can walk under water?

31. Which hedgerow tree has pink-and-orange fruits in winter? (a) hornbeam (b) Guelder rose (c) spindle

32. In Viking Ireland, tons of sphagnum moss were brought into Dublin for what purpose?

33. An pocaire gaoithe in Irish, windhover in parts of UK; which bird?

34. The Burren has hollows that are lakes in winter but dry out in summer. What are they called?

35. Which Irish bat roosts under stone bridges?

36. What are the smaller, slender versions of the dragonfly?

37. In which Irish habitat would you find lawns and hummocks?

38. Phenology studies nature’s calendar; phrenology studies which part of the body?

39. What is the new term for making more room for Europe’s bears, boars and beavers?

40. Máire fhada, Joany an scrugaill, Sile Rága and Nóra na bportach are folk names for which bird?

41. What is the botanical name of the west’s “giant rhubarb”?

42. Apart from road traffic, what kills most hedgehogs?

43. Who first devised the descriptive naming of plants by two words in Latin?

44. Cuttlefish and squid are both cephalopods. Name an even cleverer relative.

45. Which barnacle, named for a bird, clusters on washed-up timber?

46. Newts have four toes on their front feet. Which similar-seeming Irish reptile has five?

47. What spinning effect of Earth keeps the jet streams whirling west to east?

48. “A knife-thrower/ hurling himself, a rainbow/ fractured against/ the plate glass of winter”: Michael Longley’s image of which bird?

49. In an episode of David Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet, polar bears were seen killing which new aquatic prey?

50. Which bright butterfly sometimes hibernates indoors, in sheds or curtains?

Scroll down for answers

1. Ivy

2. (c)

3. Oysters

4. Cloves

5. Hazel nuts

6. Mushroom

7. True

8. Soya beans

9. Iceland

10. Gossamer

11. Minke

12. Louis MacNeice

13. Alga

14. Lopped-off crown

15. Porpoise

16. Curlew

17. Grasslands

18. Homo sapiens

19. (c)

20. Raccoon

21. Great skua

22. Bat

23. Pine

24. Diver

25. Fern

26. Wren

27. Lamprey

28. Seabed

29. Daubenton’s

30. Dipper

31. (c)

32. Toilet paper

33. Kestrel

34. Turloughs

35. Daubenton’s

36. Damselflies

37. Raised bogs

38. Skull

39. Rewilding

40. Heron

41. Gunnera

42. Badger

43. Carl Linnaeus

44. Octopus

45. Goose-necked

46. Common lizard

47. Coriolis

48. Kingfisher

49. Beluga whales

50. Lesser tortoiseshell

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.