P-O Naturally – Test your Knowledge!

With Lesley McLaren

In this edition we’re taking another quizzical look over the year’s articles – with one or two extra questions thrown in! Have you been paying attention?

Will you be the POL teacher’s pet or rather the class clown? (Answers at the bottom of the page)

Good luck!


1. The stemless Carline thistle is named after which king? 

a. Charles the Great 

b. Charles the Bald 

c. Charles the Fat 

d. Carloman II 

2. Which of these eagles is nowadays the rarest in the P-O? 

a. Golden eagle 

b. Short-toed snake eagle 

c. Bonelli’s eagle 

d. Booted eagle 

3. What special power did French folklore attribute to the praying mantis? 

a. It would grant your wish if you prayed to it 

b.It would point a lost child home 

c. It would bestow wisdom upon any whose home it entered 

d. Anti-inflammatory if ground up and mixed into a poultice with honey. 

4. Which of these warblers does not live in the P-O all year round (see images below)? 

a. Fan-tailed

b. Sardinian

c. Cetti’s

d. Great Reed

5. The English name for a wild boar piglet under 6 months old is squeaker. What’s the French name? 

a. Bête noire

b. Marcassin

c. Bête rousse

d. Ragot

Credit 4028mdk09

6. How many (poisonous) stamens does an Autumn crocus (Colchique d’automne) have?

a. 3 

b. 6 

c. 9 

d. 11


  1. Booted Eagles are the same size as Buzzards.
  2. Otters are extinct in the P-O.
  3. Beech Marten and Pine Marten are names for the same animal.
  4. Some dragonflies migrate.
  5. Tannin in acorns is poisonous to some animals. 


  1. What moth will this amazing caterpillar become?P-O Life Naturally
  2. How can you help endangered hedgehogs?
  3. What species of land tortoise is native to the P-O?
  4. What rare Pyrenean mammal is this? 
P-O Life Naturally
Credit 4028mdk09 (1)

The Warblers

Lesley McLaren is one of “The Warblers”, a group of natural history enthusiasts based in the P-O.

For more blogs and photos, or if you’d like to contact them, visit www.mediterraneanpyrenees.com

You can also follow them on Twitter @66warblers

All photos by “The Warblers”, unless otherwise stated

Favicon for Author panel copy



  1. a. Charles the Great (c.742-814), aka Karl der Grosseand Charlemagne; King of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany. Legend has it an angel showed him how to use the thistle to treat his soldiers, who were dying of plague.
  2.  c. Bonelli’s. Appearance is often confused with Short-toed, which is the most common.
  3.  b. It would point a lost child home
  4.  d. Great Reed Warbler.
  5.  b. Marcassin (Bête rousse = 6-12mths;Bête noire = adultmale 1yr; Ragot = 2yr old)
  6.  b. 6* 

Erratum: Our thanks go to an observant reader of the Summer 2020 edition of PO Life, for pointing out that we pictured the wrong flower as Autumn Crocus/Colchique d’automne. It should have been this one: 

P-O Life Naturally


  1. True. The Booted is small for an eagle, with a wingspan of 1.1-1.35m compared with Short-toed eagles (1.62-1.78m) and Golden eagles (1.9-2.2m).
  2.  False. But you will be very lucky to see one!
  3.  False. Though they are closely related. Most obvious difference: Beech (or Stone) Marten has a white patch under the chin and top of the chest which divides in two running down each front leg. Chin and upper breast patch of the Pine Marten is more cream or apricot and doesn’t divide in two but forms a solid patch. In fact, we only have Beech Martens in the P-O and, helpfully, their Catalan name is Gorjablanc.
    P-O Life Naturally
    Beech Marten


  4. True. One dragonfly that migrates is the Southern Darter.

    Southern Darter dragonfly

  5. True. Tannin in raw acorns can be toxic to dogs, horses, cattle and humans. But by leaching acorns to remove the tannin, they can be made safe for human consumption.


  1. Deathshead Hawkmoth (Le Sphinx tête de mort)Wingspan 13cm! Gets its name from the skull-like pattern on its thorax. NB. Like the moth, the caterpillar is huge but harmless. 

    P-O Life Naturally
    Deathshead Hawkmoth Credit: Didier Descouens 

  2.  Among other things: Provide access from your garden to your neighbours’; place a ramp in a pond (even a swimming pool); supply (cat) food & water (never milk); check compost heap before burning it.
  3.  Hermann’s.
  4.  Pyrenean Desman (Le Desman des Pyrénées)These small, semi-aquatic insectivores live near mountain streams and waterfalls. Essentially nocturnal and very endangered. Find out more here.

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