Usually at this time of year I tend to write a blog post on brown hares. This is an animal that is often associated with spring with their 'mad March' boxing antics. The posts from previous years have shown the animals running around or sat in the rapidly growing grass or passing blooming daffodils. In fact during March last year the UK was unusually warm with temperatures in the low twenties Celsius. This year though is very different.
A shift in the jet stream and high pressure over the north of the UK has resulted in a constant icy wind blowing in from the east which brought with it a couple of weeks back some very heavy snow. Living on a penninsula any snowfall is usually a bit thin on the ground (literally) due to the warming influence of the surrounding sea. This was still the case in the recent weather but a short distance down the road where I photograph the hares, a decent layer of around 30cms had accumulated and had been pushed into low drifts by a harsh east wind.
Given that I rarely encounter snow I always find it quite a challenge to photograph and getting the exposure right. Its is a fine balance between trying to keep the snow looking white and not over exposing the image.
There must be some vegetation down there somewhere to eat.
I have had my concerns for doing any hare photography this year. During last year I noticed that numbers seemed to be much reduced and then I found out why. I was told in the autumn that someone decided it would be 'fun' to go around shooting them. For some reason it is not illegal to shoot this rapidly declining mammal but it is to do it in the public open space where they live. The police took to occasional patrols but whether they caught anyone I do not know. The population is quite small so it would not take much to wipe them out and that was my fears for both the hares and any future photography. I would have certainly missed spend time in their company. Numbers certainly do not seem to be at the level they use to be but there appears to hopefully be sufficient to keep the population going given they are quite prolific breeders. I was certainly very happy to see a heavily pregnant female, shown below, fighting off the advances of several males.
My next mammal project, which I am thinking of checking out tomorrow given an improving forecast, is a return to some Water Voles which I am really looking forward to. This will be a reconnaissance mission for some plans I have to photograph them for when it warms up a little.