Sunday, September 28, 2014


During this summer I have spent a fair amount of my time photographing Little Owls which will be the subject of a couple of future blog posts. The owls were resident in an old farm building which had a gravel track running down its side which separated it from a field with a potato crop. As Little Owls are most active during dawn and dusk and it was inevitable that during these sessions I would also encounter some other birds and animals which show a preference for these times of day.
Whilst sitting waiting for owls I would see the occasional brown hare coming down the track and cutting across the grass verge and into the potato plants.
During July three leverets appeared briefly for a couple of weeks and not only gave some good opportunities for photography, which does not happen to often,  but were also a great deal of fun to watch. Leverets always seem slightly comic in appearance with their ears and feet which they always seem to need to grow into. They also always seem slightly uncoordinated in their movements as if someone above is pulling strings attached to the legs in the opposite direction to that which they want to go. These mini hares are also highly unpredictable, sitting still one moment and then bouncing around all over the place the next as if they are receiving repeated electric shocks.

They are actually fairly difficult to photograph given the apparent randomness of their movements, u combines with their small size and impressive speed.  Sometimes they have the appearance of a turbo-charged guinea pig. The world must seem a very large place to a small leveret.
It was interesting to watch the three of them interacting and most of their time was spent chasing each other in circles among the potato plants. Important 'playtime' training to avoid future predation. There was another interesting moment when one approached a rabbit and seemed to be trying to provoke it into a chase although the rabbit was having none of it.

My brief moments with these leverets was very enjoyable especially when combined with the Little Owls and provide a useful and entertaining distraction whilst waiting for the owls to appear. I hope these hares are all still around and fairing well as this declining species is currently afforded no statutory protection in the UK. In my view this is one of our most enigmatic small mammal species and deserves a higher legal conservation status to ensure that future generations can enjoy the spectacle of the 'mad' March hares running around the fields.


Carol Blackburn said...

The little hares are adorable!

Betty said...

I have been following your blog for a few months now and look forward to your posts, I love the hares - you have captured such detail - most of all their movement and alertness. Through your lens I have had the chance to see these beautiful creatures in far better detail than a glimpse with the naked eye would have afforded me (I saw one recently watching me at a great distance and felt privileged). I would like to see them become a protected species too. Looking forward to your next post.

Esben Reiersen said...

Very nice shots of the little brown hare. Good details og sharpness. I really liked the last picture. Looking forward to your next post about the Little Owl.

biobabbler said...

Wow, super charming--wonderful shots. I LOVE the shot where the leveret is levitating. =) They sound like a wonderful species to have around.


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