Sunday, 27 March 2016

Four Seasons of Hares



One of the real pleasures of walking across the fields, at any time of year, is coming across a hare. If I'm really lucky, I'll see several at once running around or simply sitting in the sun together.


In March and April, I always hope to see them chasing around or rearing up to begin boxing each other. It used to be thought that two males boxed, but now it's said that the females box away the amorous males. Although I've often come across them at this time of year, I've never seen a full 'boxing match' between two hares. I have, though, seen a sort of half-box, when one hare backed down very quickly faced with the challenge of the other. So one of them, the male or the female, wasn't up for the fight!


Hares and Easter go together, because the original Easter Bunny was supposed to have been a hare. The idea of an Easter hare originated in Europe and then, when this custom moved to America, the hare became a cute-looking rabbit.

Hares have also been regarded as symbols of fertility. Bizarrely, the Easter hare was seen as laying eggs.

I've often wondered why hares have been thought of as sacred in some cultures. Perhaps it's because they come out to graze at night and so are seen as shadowy, otherworldly creatures in the moonlight.


When I'm out walking, I look out for leverets, but they must be well hidden. I seem to trip over just-born, baby rabbits here all the time, but never young hares. Of course the rabbits come into the garden, and sit around quite happily in full view - and the hares are shy and don't. I know that the leverets hide and wait for their mother to come out and feed them at dusk. This happens for a short while after they're born and then the mother will stop feeding them. They have to be independent very quickly in life.

The adults can lay very still in a small depression in the ground called a form. They do this as a means of defence and it isn't a good strategy in an agricultural field.

But how is the hare supposed to know that?


There are some terrible news stories of hares locally, and so when I see them,  I just enjoy the sight of them, safe - at that moment - and enjoying the sun.


In late winter/early spring I tend to see two or more gathered together. Last year I counted up to seven in one field, but I haven't see that number since.  The rest of year, I usually to see them on their own.


In summer, I spot them in the corn or they sit at the edge of fields or under the hedges...


In autumn, after the harvest, their cover in the fields has gone and so they find new protection where they can. This is the same in winter, although they sometimes venture out into the frosty fields...


They really are one of my favourite creatures.



41 comments:

  1. Wonderful post and lovely photos, there is something special about seeing a Hard, a privilege moment.
    Amanda xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it's a very special moment when they appear and it's even better when they don't run off at once, but let me watch them for a short while. Thanks Amanda

      Delete
  2. I was reading about hares and rabbits the other day, and the differences between them are so great. You would imagine that their diet, and the way they live would be similar, but not at all.
    I do love your wonderful captures especially the one on the frosty grass - I haven't seen boxing hares since I was a child.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is interesting about the difference between hares and rabbits. I haven't really looked that up and must do so. I've just assumed that hares would do some damage in the garden (like rabbits) if they ever visited, but perhaps they wouldn't.

      Delete
  3. Rabbits here can be really destructive to gardens. Are hares destructive, too? I didn't know they really boxed! I thought that was a myth. Happy Easter! :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I've replied to Rosemary, I've assumed that hares would do some damage, but perhaps not. They do box and I would so love to see a proper match! Happy Easter to you, too!

      Delete
  4. They are absolutely beautiful, although we tend to see more rabbits round here, hares are rarely seen. I love the picture of the hare in the frosty field. Happy Easter xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if there are many hares on the coast. I know rabbits are everywhere!
      Happy Easter!

      Delete
  5. A wonderful set of photographs - particularly, of course, the one on the frosty morning. We rarely see hares here in NE Wales but treasure the sight when we do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ian. Yes - hares tend to be found on the large arable fields (which we have here in East Anglia of course). It would be great if local farmers would manage their land to help the hares here.

      Delete
  6. Hares are one of my favourite creatures too. How lucky you are to be able to see them often and in all seasons. I've enjoyed looking at your wonderful photos and I can imagine the hare being the origin of the Easter bunny:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is lovely coming across them all year around, although in summer they're often hidden in the corn and I can miss them. Then they usually see me first and my only sight of them is of them dashing off in the opposite direction!

      Delete
  7. A wonderful post and photos Wendy. It must be lovely to see them so often. There are plenty of rabbits round here but rarely see hares - went out looking for them last weekend at a place where I have seen them before but had no success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Caroline. I don't know how fixed they are to a particular territory. Sometimes I see them every day and then I may not see them for weeks. I wonder how much they move around.

      Delete
  8. Wonderful photos of a wonderful mammal, hares are definitely one of my favourite British animals as well, the Yorkshire Wolds thankfully hosting a healthy population of them. However even here we get hare coursers coming from other parts of the country and once my father and I helped the police intercept a trio of coursers whom had come down from Durham!

    The best 'boxing' match I ever saw was actually in Orkney whilst waiting for a ferry. It was certainly a memorable scrap!

    Thanks for another interesting read and kindest regards :-)

    PS. Hope you had a lovely Easter :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is good news that there is a healthy population of hares near you and it's great to hear that you helped to intercept the hare coursers. That's such an brilliant thing to do. Unfortunately the coursers have been coming at night locally and so aren't getting stopped.
      That's wonderful that you saw the hares boxing. It must have been a terrific moment.
      Thanks David

      Delete
  9. Beautiful series of photos.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lovely animals and lovely images Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've only once seen a hare, in a Scottish field. How special to see so many. Thanks for the photos.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We see rabbits every day on our walks. There are meant to be hares in the fields to although we have not spotted any yet. The only time we have ever seen a hare was in Ireland. Do you find that they are more timid than rabbits? Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I do find them much more timid than rabbits. Rabbits surround me here, for example last year a young rabbit sat in the chicken pen completely unfazed by everything going on around it. I would never see a hare at home, and can only get close in the fields if they don't see me first!

      Delete
  13. And my favourites, well taken Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bob and thanks for visiting.

      Delete
  14. What fantastic photos of the hares, how lovely to see so many of them. We have them in the fields opposite but I've rarely seen more than two. Altcar was on our doorstep, appalling it was, I'm so glad hare coursing is now banned, although it still goes on illegally, sadly.Now you mention it, I've never seen a leveret either. Another wonderful post, I did enjoy it.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least coursing is banned legally. It's horrible to think of it.
      I hope you see many more of your own local hares. They do seem to come and go here, some years I see more than others. I suspect there are several reasons why, the crops in the field must be one. Thanks Dina.

      Delete
  15. I do envy you the relatively common experience of seeing hares, we do have them here, but years go by without me spotting them. Wonderful pics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Janet. They do seem to like the arable fields that we have here. I haven't seen them yet in the meadows and smaller fields.

      Delete
  16. Those are some amazing images Wendy - you must be extremely patient.
    We have heaps of rabbits here but I have yet to see a hare - I would absolutely love to though.
    We also have alot of wild black rabbits - I assume this has come from a release of pet rabbits at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is interesting about the black rabbits. We had a couple of black rabbits in the lane a few years ago. We assumed, too, that they were originally pet rabbits (or had come from them). I wonder if they'd escaped or been let loose here.

      Delete
  17. What a lovely informative post with great photos! I don't see hares very often where I live (Brittany) as they've been hunted too much in the past, and these days I'm glad that hunters are only allowed to hunt them for one specific day during the hunting season in my commune. Obviously I'd rather they weren't hunted at all!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello Mandy and thanks for visiting! It is very sad to think that these lovely creatures are hunted anywhere, but thank goodness there are some restrictions where you are. Hopefully, one day, they won't be hunted at all.

    ReplyDelete
  19. lovely captures,love the last two images.
    John.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Goodness you are lucky to see them so often. What wonderful photographs. We get them on the chalk here but at a distance. I found a form this winter which fascinated me and I have seen them boxing once many years ago. It is a sight to behold for sure x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello CT - lovely to hear from you. How lucky you are to have seen them boxing. The hares I'm seeing at the moment just don't seem inclined to have a go - but I'll keep hoping! x

      Delete
  21. I very rarely see Hares so its good to see your pictures.I had no idea the Easter Bunny started off as a Hare! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shazza. I often see Hares here, but it's always a real pleasure when I do. They're very special creatures.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Shazza. I often see Hares here, but it's always a real pleasure when I do. They're very special creatures.

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave any comments. I do love to read them.