BIRDS 1 What would you be watching if you were looking at a
What would you be watching if you were looking at a 'Norfolk
Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
The accepted common names of which two regular British
breeding birds derive from English towns?
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis and Dartford Warbler
Sylvia undata, both towns in Kent.
Which bird was popularly known as ‘draw-water’ in Victorian
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
What is the smallest bird by weight in the world?
Bee Hummingbird Calypte helenae of Cuba. The male
weighs just 1.6g.
Halt high insurgent? (anagram)
Thrush Nightingale. Nightingale Thrush, of which there
are several Neotropical species, was also accepted.
Which British breeding bird has the longest legs? (absolute
length, not proportionately longest)
Common Crane Grus grus
What type of food does a graminivorous bird eat?
Grass (not grain or seed = granivorous). Wigeon and
Barnacle Goose are good examples of graminivores.
Which bird owes its presence in Britain to introductions that
began in Northamptonshire in the decade 1880 to 1890?
Little Owl Athene noctua
What connects the logo of the African Bird Club and a large
The logo is of the Egyptian Plover, which is often known as
“The Crocodile Bird”
What is remarkable about the structure of the foot of a Swift?
All four of its toes point forwards
What term is used to describe the sudden arrival of a large
number of migrant birds that are grounded due to weather
conditions, particularly during autumn?
What is Morocco’s smallest breeding bird by weight?
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus
Which species has the largest eyes of any living bird?
The Ostrich Struthio camelus
In which tropical family of birds does the male wall up the
female in the nest hole for the duration of nesting?
What is the bird connection between Wrexham, Bristol and
Robin. Wrexham, Bristol City and Swindon Town football
teams are all known as the Robins.
Which members of the Starling family, confined to Africa,
obtain all their food from the hides of large mammals, both
wild and domestic?
Oxpeckers Buphagus sp.
Which British bird subspecies occurs only on St Kilda?
St Kilda Wren Troglodytes troglodytes hirtensis
Which two waders that breed in the UK are named for the
colour of their legs?
Common Redshank and Common Greenshank
Which British Island gives its name to a species of bird AND a
Isle of Man: Manx Shearwater, Manx Cat
Name the smallest British bird species with zygodactyl feet?
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor - smaller
than Wryneck in both length and weight
Missing the fifth secondary feather on each wing is a state
known as what?
Diastataxis. Nightjar is an example.
In Britain, for bird species to be placed on the Red List of
Birds of Conservation Concern, one of the criteria requires the
breeding population to have declined by what percentage over
More than 50%
Which British wader has only three toes?
Sanderling Calidris alba is the only sandpiper with three
toes. However, many of the charadriine waders and a few
others also lack a hind toe, including the ringed and golden
plovers, Dotterel, Black-winged Stilt, Oystercatcher, Creamcoloured Courser and Stone-curlew, so there are several
acceptable answers to the question as it is worded. Note,
however, that Avocet does have a hind toe, albeit very small,
and Grey Plover usually, but not always has a hind toe.
Many owls hunt by ear and some can catch prey they cannot
see at all. Which owl is able not only to locate, by ear, voles in
their runs under snow but also to plunge into the snow and
Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa
Which bird has the longest tail of any bird on the British list?
(absolute length, not proportionately longest)
Lady Amherst's Pheasant Chrysolophus amherstiae
What unusual morphological feature is shared by Common
Swift, Hoopoe and Cetti's Warbler?
They have only ten rectrices (tail feathers). Cetti's Warbler
is the only British passerine to show this feature.
What new piece of feeding behaviour was first noticed in 1921
being practised in Southampton by a Blue Tit?
Removing a milk bottle top to get at the cream
Apart from Cormorants and Shags, which other British
breeding bird has webs between all four of its toes?
Gannet Sula bassana
Of which British bird species do the majority fly to the
Waddensea between Netherlands and Denmark to moult?
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
What unwanted link connects Dunnock, Meadow Pipit and
Reed Warbler when breeding?
They are the three common hosts of Cuckoo in Britain.
Which passerine winters in internationally important numbers
around the shores of The Wash?
Twite Carduelis flavirostris
Which European princess had a bird named after her?
Eleonora of Arborea, Sardinia c1350-1404 (Eleonora's
Falcon). Princess Stephanie of Belgium (1864-1945) was also
accepted as a valid answer (Stephanie’s Astrapia or Princess
Stephanie’s Bird-of-Paradise Astrapia stephaniae, from New
Guinea). Isabella of Castile, after whose underwear the colour
Isabelline is supposedly named, was not allowed. This
etymology is dubious, and Isabelline Wheatear and Isabelline
Shrike are named for their colour, not after the person.
Which conservation organisation was born out of the 1928
British Trust for Ornithology
What term is given to the sudden wave of alarm, usually
accompanied by silence that sometimes occurs in a colony of
gulls or terns?
The scientific name of a Kenyan endemic, the Sokoke Scops
Owl, is Otus ireneae. Who was the Irene honoured here?
Mrs Irene Morden, who sponsored expeditions and was a
collector in Kenya for the American Museum of Natural
History. The owl was named for science in 1966: it was called
"Mrs Morden's Owlet" at one point, and later "Morden's Scops
After which well-known bird were the early postmen
nicknamed because of the colour of their coats?
In a duck decoy, how were the birds traditionally lured into
Usually by a trained dog, which ran in and out through a
series of screens, the ducks following out of curiosity.
Occasionally tame or pinioned ducks were used to lure their
Which small bird was formerly the object of a hunt on St
Stephen's Day in many parts of England?
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
What aspect of bird study did the brothers Richard and Cherry
Kearton pioneer in the UK in the 1890s?
What important discovery was made in 1861 in a quarry near
Solnhofen Pappenheim, Bavaria?
The first fossil remains of Archaeopteryx, then the
earliest known fossil recognisable as a feathered bird.
What type of bird is represented by the oboe in Prokofiev's
'Peter and the Wolf'?
Which British coin featured the Wren on its obverse?
In the poem by Edgar Allan Poe, which bird had the refrain of
The Raven Corvus corax
The introduction of what device from Japan in 1956
revolutionised the practice of bird ringing?
Which domesticated wildfowl species originated in South
Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata
A German bird observatory gave its name to a funnel of wire
netting used at bird observatories to trap birds for ringing
purposes. What is its name?
Hel(i)goland (Heligoland Trap)
Beatrice Harrison worked with which species of bird in Oxted,
Nightingale. She was famously recorded by the BBC in the
1920s playing the cello accompanied by Nightingale song.
The distribution of the plant fumitory is closely related in
Britain to the range of which bird, for which it is an important
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Which species of seabird makes its nest 2,000 feet up on a
rocky mountain top in the Hebrides
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus - on Rhum
Which country features most often in the English names of
birds on the British list? Name the birds. (Note that America
refers to the continent rather than the USA)
Egypt: Egyptian Goose, Egyptian Vulture, Egyptian
Which loud bird owes its scientific and English names to a
Jesuit priest and professor of mathematics?
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti, named after Fr. Francesco Cetti
(1736-1778) who wrote a book on the natural history of
Which UK breeding bird that winters primarily in Africa
contains a fish-eating quadruped and sits on eggs it has not
D-otter-el. The male alone incubates the eggs. The main
wintering area is North Africa and the Middle East. Sp-ott-ed
Flycatch-er and R-o-sea-t-e Ter-n were good tries (the male
shares incubation with the female in these species so not
excluded as the question is worded), but the former winters
entirely in Africa, as does the European population of Roseate
Which British bird, when postage stamps were first issued,
might have worn a pointed hat and rode a broomstick?
Great Auk. The last bird recorded in Britain, on St Kilda, in
about 1840 was killed as a witch. The Penny Black, the
world's first postage stamp was issued in 1840. The date
connection points to Great Auk rather than Storm-petrel
(Mother Carey's Chicken).
Which bird on the British list is named after a river over 1000
Pechora Pipit. The River Pechora is the third longest river in
Europe after the Volga and Danube. NB The River Terek
(Terek Sandpiper) is only a few hundred miles long, while in
North America the Tennessee River (Tennessee Warbler) is
also well under one thousand miles. As the question did not
specify English name, Gull-billed Tern Sterna (Gelochelidon)
nilotica was also accepted, the specific name meaning ‘of the
What is the smallest British bird species with white-feathered
House Martin Delichon urbicum
Which widespread British breeding bird was confined to St
Kilda until 1878?
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
What does a bird 'with no feet' have in common with 'a cave
dweller' and one that 'resembles a winnowing fan'?
All have the generic name repeated as the specific
name. Swift Apus apus (meaning no foot), Wren Troglodytes
troglodytes (meaning cave dweller) and Lapwing Vanellus
vanellus (winnowing fan).
About 70 specimens are found in museums, with the last one
shot in 1935 and the last confirmed sighting in 1949. If it still
exists it is most likely to be found in Myanmar. What species
Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea
Who or what, nominally, connects the vulnerable Blue Bird of
Paradise and an African lake?
Archduke, later Crown Prince, Rudolph of AustriaHungary (1857-1889). The Blue Bird of Paradise was named
Paradisaea rudolphi after him, as was Lake Rudolf in the Great
Rift Valley in northern Kenya, just reaching into Ethiopia, now
known as Lake Turkana.
Which bird, once numbering hundreds of thousands, migrated
from northern North America to South America, and is now
Eskimo Curlew (not Passenger Pigeon which was not
recorded south of Mexico). The last incontrovertible record of
Eskimo Curlew was in 1963.
If you take a Gentoo Penguin and an Upland Goose from a
Sooty Tern, what are you left with?
97 pence. Gentoo Penguin and Upland Goose appear on the
1p and 2p coins of the Falkland Islands, while Sooty Tern
appears on the £1 coin of St Helena. The currencies of both
these British Overseas Territories are tied to the pound
Which genus is the most widely distributed globally of all the
Myotis. Absent only from Arctic, sub-Antarctic and Antarctic
regions and many oceanic islands.
Which European football team has a bat on their logo?
Valencia of the Spanish la liga
Salmon are anadromous, coming into freshwater from
saltwater to breed. What is our only UK anadromous fish
without the letter 's' in its common name?
River Lamprey. Our other anadromous fish are Salmon, Sea
Trout, Sea Lamprey, Common Sturgeon (very rare nonbreeding visitor), Allis Shad, Twaite Shad and Smelt. Brook
Lamprey spends all its life in freshwater.
REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
Turtle soup is usually made from the Green Turtle. Which
species was exploited for tortoiseshell?
Hawksbill Turtle, though fortunately the practice is now
illegal in most countries.
What colour eyes does a common toad have?
Which county hosts 50% of all natterjack sites in the UK?
Which two charities merged to form the UK-based charity
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation?
This question is void. Froglife and the Herpetological
Conservation Trust were due to merge in 2010. However,
after the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust was set
up, Froglife pulled out of the merger and remain a separate
charity, while the Herpetological Conservation Trust now call
themselves Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.
BUTTERFLIES & MOTHS
What is the tongue of butterflies and moths called?
Proboscis or haustellum.
Which is the largest resident British moth?
Privet Hawk-moth Sphinx ligustri. There are a few other
Hawk-moth species that are slightly larger which occasionally
Often common in southern Britain, of which moth is only the
parthenogenetic wingless female known?
Luffia ferchaultella (family Psychidae, Bagworms). The
small cases which shelter the caterpillars, and later the adult
females, are to be found on the trunks of deciduous trees.
Although Dahlica triquetrella and Dahlica lichenella, belonging
to the same family of moths, are both known in Britain only
as parthenogenetic flightless females, winged males of these
two species are known in Continental Europe. Furthermore,
both these species are rarities in Britain, unlike Luffia
What piece of equipment, first described in 1950 in
Entomologists' Gazette, revolutionised the study of moths?
The Robinson light trap. The paper was Robinson, HS &
Robinson, PJM (1950) Some notes on the observed behaviour
of Lepidoptera in the vicinity of light sources together with a
description of a light trap designed to take entomological
samples. Entomologists' Gazette 1: 3-20.
How does the male Nursery Web Spider Pisaura mirabilis
court the female?
He wraps a fly or other small object in silk and offers it
as a gift. While the female is occupied with the gift he takes
his chance to mate. Some males have been known to wrap
small pebbles if they have been unable to catch a fly; others
may grab the gift back after mating to try their luck
Most spiders have how many eyes?
Eight. A small number of spiders have six eyes, and a very
few (none British) have only two. Some species of cave spider
have even lost all their eyes through evolution. Sight is
relatively unimportant to many (though not all) spiders as
they have many specialist sense organs with which they ‘see’
You see a spider in Britain carrying her eggsac attached to her
spinnerets. To which two families might she belong?
Wolf spiders Lycosidae and Comb-footed spiders
Theridiidae. Most, but not all, our wolf spiders run around
carrying their eggsac in this way. However, a few wolf spiders
live in a burrow guarding their eggsac. Most of our 56 species
of comb-footed spiders guard their eggsac in a retreat, but
three species, two uncommon (Rugathodes instabilis and R.
bellicosus), one common (Neottiura bimaculata), trail their
eggsac with them as they go. Raft and Nursery Web spiders
Pisauridae also carry their eggsac around for the first few
days, but in their jaws, NOT attached to their spinnerets.
Our British Cave Spiders Meta menardi and M. bourneti live
only in enclosed sites where there is no light, such as caves,
underground tunnels and hollows in old trees. How then are
they able they colonise new sites?
When the young first hatch they are positively attracted
to the light so head outside. When weather conditions are
suitable they pay out a line of silk that catches the breeze and
lifts the spiderling into the air. Some may travel many miles,
but such dispersion is highly random. After undergoing their
next moult the growing young spiders are then repelled by
light and seek somewhere dark to live the rest of their life.
Many young must perish without finding somewhere suitable
to grow to maturity.
Which tree native to Britain has the widest natural range
Juniper Juniperus communis - across north temperate zones
of Europe (down to North Africa), Asia and N America. While
Juniper is more usually a low shrub, it sometimes grows to be
a tree up to 10m.
Which tree native to Britain is commemorated in the pub
name, 'The Chequers'?
Wild Service or Checkers Tree, Sorbus torminalis - a drink
was brewed from the berries.
Which tree is usually regarded as native to Ireland, but not to
The Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo (grows wild in
Which British native tree traditionally supplied the timber for
Aspen Populus tremula, but Lime and Black Poplar both also
What is the fungus that causes Dutch elm disease?
Ophiostoma ulmi/Ceratocystis ulmi. Two other closely
related taxa are sometimes recognised O. himal-ulmi and O.
Which of the following is the odd one out, taxonomically?:
Boletus edulis (The Cep), Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric),
Gyromitra esculenta (False Morel), Daedaleopsis confragosa
(Blushing Bracket), Calvatia = Langermannia gigantea (Giant
Gyromitra esculenta is an Ascomycete, the others are
A native of Northamptonshire, and author of a seminal work
on the subject in 1860, who is regarded as the founder of
British Mycology (study of fungi)?
Rev Miles Joseph Berkeley
What is the common name of the food product myco-protein
made from the filamentous fungus Fusarium venenatum?
What is the relationship between the insect Lasius fuliginosus
and the fungus Cladosporium myrmecophilum?
The Jet Black Ant uses the living fungus in the
construction of its nest. As the fungal hyphae thread their
way through the walls of the nest they act as a strengthening
framework, akin to the metal rods in reinforced concrete. The
ants do not eat the fungus, but use it purely as a building
material. The fungus appears to live nowhere else but in the
nests of this ant.
What are the three recognised saprophytic orchids found in
Coralroot Orchid Corallorhiza trifida, Ghost Orchid
Epipogium aphyllum, Birdsnest Orchid Neottia nidus-avis
A former controller of BBC2 and a former captain of the
England cricket team are the patrons of which conservation
World Land Trust: David Attenborough and David Gower
What is the current name of the international conservation
organisation that was founded in 1922, and changed its name
to its current incarnation in 1993?
BirdLife International. It was founded as the International
Committee for the Protection of Birds, soon after becoming
the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP).
During his long and illustrious ‘birding career’, Bob Scott
found no fewer than four birds that had never before been
recorded in Britain – his ‘four ‘firsts’ in taxonomic order were
Hume’s Warbler, Short-toed Treecreeper, Dark-eyed Junco
and Northern Waterthrush. Of the ‘fab four’, which did he find
first, and where was it?
Northern Waterthrush on St Agnes, Scilly, September
Which of the four species noted in question 89 has, currently,
the most records accepted by the British Birds Rarities
Of the 25 British records of Short-toed Treecreeper since Bob
found the first, no fewer than 13 have been seen at one
particular site – where is this?
Northern Waterthrush has been recorded from three British &
Irish bird observatories since Bob found the first for Britain &
Ireland - which are they?
Gibraltar Point, Portland and Cape Clear
Which bird was the subject of the RSPB film 'The
Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Which RSPB reserve consists of disused gravel diggings on the
shore of The Wash?
The RSPB's first initiative in Africa, "Save the Seashore Birds"
project was started in 1985 in which African country?
From 1954-1965 the covers of the RSPB's magazine Bird
Notes featured colour paintings by which artist?
Which well-known RSPB reserve would you be visiting if you
took a boat from Orford Quay?
Havergate Island, Suffolk
The RSPB film 'Big Bill' featured the life of which British bird?
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
The RSPB HQ at The Lodge at Sandy, Bedfordshire was built
in 1870 for one of the sons of which famous statesman?
Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the UK from 1834-35 and
again 1841-46. His fifth son Arthur Wellesley Peel had The
Lodge built, and was its first occupier.
100 What was the title of the first magazine produced by the RSPB
for its members?
Bird Notes & News, first published in 1903. This became
Bird Notes in 1947, then Birds in 1966.