BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Brown Hare.

I haven't tried to trace my record of 32 Brown Hare seen during a visit to the Cockersands area a few years ago now, but this is/was always a good place to find good numbers of them. But it was the question last week by someone I met at Cockersands....'had I see any Brown Hares'....that prompted me to realise that I hadn't seen any recently and in particular that it was now the season of the 'Mad March Hare' and I should be seeing them....I need to make enquiries with the locals/farmers and look into the case of the missing Brown Hares in the Cockersands area.


Hare
Brown Hare David Cookson  


There are three hare species in the British Isles, the Irish Hare found only in Ireland, the Mountain Hare, found in Scotland and the Peak District, and the Brown Hare (BH) which is actually not a native to Britain but is believed to have been introduced by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Today the population of the BH in Britain is thought to be in the region of 800,000.

Readings about the BH would lead you to believe that the sight of one is a rare thing, but this is certainly not my experience in the Cockersands area where - until the recent discovery of their apparent absence from here - I could easily count a double figure of them on a two hour circuit of the area. Spring it seems is the dawn of a burst of energy by this usually shy and secretive creature, and March spells the boxing season for this endearing field-dwelling creature and represents a captivating display of courtship. It is commonly thought that the males are the ones which stand on their hind legs boxing in the fields, but the fact is that its likely to be the females who are the champions of the art of boxing in the act of fighting off the overzealous males.

Brown Hare Phillip Tomkinson  


Although this sparing behaviour is mainly confined to the spring, mating isn't only at this time of the year, the breeding season for the BH actually lasts from February right through until September, and an even bigger surprise about the BH is that the female is able to carry an astonishing three - sometimes four - litters in a year. 


Ancient Motif Dunhuang Museum

Mythology and ancient folklore also surrounds the BH throughout the world and it was once believed to have had the powers of solitude due to its nocturnal and mysterious behaviour. There is also a riddle yet to be solved surrounding the BH, that of the infamous motif depicting three symmetrical hares with adjoining ears which appears in many churches across England and the world. This is believed to have originated from 6th century Chinese Buddhism, the ancient motif is seen as both a religious symbol and work of art, but its true meaning remains unclear.

There's something really worrying here, and I must find out why the Brown Hare seems to have disappeared from the area around Cockersands where it once roamed free and abundant according to my personal observations of this fascinating mammal. Thanks to DC/PT for the excellent images of the equally excellent Brown Hares. 

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING. But not looking to good....at the moment at least.      

4 comments:

Martin Jump said...

Wonderful images of the hare Peter,I'm finding them harder to find this year.

Adam said...

nice hare

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Love it.. A regard from Madrid..

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks Martin....Interesting - and worrying - your'e finding them hard to find too.

Thanks Adam....Yes, a nice creature the Brown Hare.

Thanks Ana....A regard from Lancaster too.