Your nature queries answered: From death caps to cross-bred ducks

Plus: Insects discovered on a Christmas tree and buzzing camellia flowers

What are the most poisonous mushrooms?
Damien Maguire, Maynooth, Co Kildare
Fly agaric and other Amanita species such as the death cap and the destroying angel; webcaps, Cortinarius species. See

This was a wonderful sight recently on the clifftop at Downpatrick Head. What is the plant growing on the mounds?
Anne Lavin, Knock, Co Mayo

They are cushions of sea pinks, not mounds of earth with plants on top, a lovely sight when in bloom.

These ducks have been in Dublin's Tymon Park for a couple of months. They have brown heads with a white strip running from the top of the head to the beak. Any idea what they might be?
Carmel Lynch, Terenure, Dublin 6W
They are most likely to be last year's flock of a mallard hybrid with some other duck. Mallards cross-breed with dozens of other ducks, and each hybrid will look different. I found one photo online that had a strong resemblance to yours. It was a mallard/muscovy duck hybrid.

I couldn't identify this bird, which I saw at the Botanic Gardens in the autumn. It had a reddish-brown chest and back with blue barring on the wing edge and a lot of white underneath.
John Thompson, Sutton, Dublin 13


It is a jay, a member of the crow family.

On February the bees were busily buzzing on the camellia flowers in Killarney.
Carmel Hourican, Muckross, Co Kerry

Glad to see that it was a honeybee, with a sizeable ball of pollen.

Correspondents Fiona Brennan and Mary Winders both found insects on their Christmas trees. The insects were the giant conifer aphid, a known pest of Christmas trees.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at Include a postal address