The winter before last I started photographing Mountain Hares in the Peak District. Last winter was basically non-starter for them as terrible weather seemed to coincide with my free time and I only managed one unsuccessful visit.
The first visit and with all the preceding rain proved very soggy underfoot on the upland peat deposits and by the time I had finished crawling around, which is inevitable when photographing these shy animals, I resembled something emerging from the proverbial black lagoon. At first I thought something was wrong as the places where I expected find hares were all empty. Had their been a population crash? It took 2 hours searching before my first encounter. With the stiff cold wind the hares had decided to sensibly take shelter on the other side of the hill! In the end I managed to put a couple of hares in front of the camera. I had forgotten what hard work is involved with photographing these beautiful animals. Every photo ending up on the camera typically involves large amounts of trekking across the hills, subsequently followed by a long crawl to get in close to them. Every image is a hard won.
The third session was last weekend and needed an early start to get up to the hares for first light with the rapidly increasing day length. The ground was frozen and the wind light which meant making a quiet approach was going to present some challenges. It was interesting to note during this visit a change in the hares behaviour, as the spring hormone rush had obviously started to kick in. Many of the hares I encountered, instead of sitting in eroded peat gullies were sitting up on vantage points presumably scanning the area for other hares. Of course, this made the already difficult task of approaching these timid animals even more challenging.
This session was hard work involving lots of slow crawling to try and get in a good photography position on the hares. I was certainly feeling some aching muscles for a couples of days afterwards. Overall, it was another enjoyable sessions which produced a few more images for the slowly expanding library.