Hares Today …

March 14, 2017

hare outside front doorAs I may have mentioned, we have a resident hare in the garden. It has a few favoured spots where it likes to hang out, and it’s a bit fly to be photographed on a mobile phone, although today I did my best when I went into our entranceway today and found we had a visitor right outside (possibly contemplating nibbling the second of the pair of little bay trees that I had been hoping would frame our doorway; it’s already decapitated the first.)

When I was in Inverness, I also got a text from the other half to tell me that not one but two hares were hanging out on the manky pink carpet, waiting for the rain to stop. As hares are largely solitary, two hares can mean only one thing: that the time has come when a young hare’s fancy turns to, well, other hares (the ‘boxing’ they are famous for in March is generally down to the female hare not yet being similarly inclined and reminding the male hare that hares are largely solitary and she would prefer to keep it that way, thankyouverymuch). So far we’ve seen neither boxing nor any sign that they are doing more than just tolerating each others’ presence, but we live in hope of more hares tomorrow.

hare haring off

Naturally this makes the hare-proof defences for the vegetable patch increasingly urgent, but for now we are just enjoying their presence and trying to work out a means by which we and the hares can continue to share the garden nicely.


When Wildlife Goes Bad

June 13, 2014

I have to admit, I didn’t exactly set out to get the paper with a song in my heart this morning. More of a sort of nervous keeping-one’s-spirits-up whistling. Being struck by a buzzard out of the blue is one thing, and frankly it’s scary enough. Knowingly setting off on your bike to face an angry buzzard is quite another. As I rode down to the papershop I found myself counting off the miles: Nearest Village is pretty safe, then the bit down to the sharp corner is fine, then there’s a long stretch which has never been buzzard infested to my knowledge, then that nice downhill bit to the ruined cottage…

buzzard alley

Here be buzzards

… that marks the entrance to buzzard alley.

The stretch of road where I’ve been attacked only amounts to about half a mile of the whole five-and-a-half mile run down to Papershop Village. Clearly, that’s about the size of an angry buzzard’s territory. It happens to be surrounded by conifer plantation – lots of nice buzzard ambush points – and goes up the longest, steepest hill of the whole ride, meaning any cyclists are going slow enough to be swooped upon. As I approached the entrance, I stopped to put my hood up, nerved myself up, had a quick look around for any obviously enraged raptors, and set off.

To cut a long story short, ASBO buzzard is still there, and it’s still angry. But its aim has either improved or worsened, depending on its intentions, because I only got two close-ish passes this morning, rather than the full buzzard-across-the-back-of-the-head treatment.

And lest you think it’s all wildlife-related terror round here, once safely out of Buzzard territory, I then rounded the corner and encountered two hares who were more interested in either beating or chatting* each other up than me. Apologies for the quality of the photos; my camera phone zoom is worse than useless. But you know what they say: the best camera is the one you have.

hares fighting hares fighting

Anyway, now I am safely in Edinburgh where at least I only have to deal with the trams and the lorries in two dimensions, rather than three. If any of you are also in the city and at a loose end, may I recommend this followed by this?

* Like herons and humans, their fighting and courtship rituals are hard to distinguish


Double Standards

May 6, 2011

Cycling back from the shop this morning I nearly ran over a leveret,* which had decided to sit on the road and nibble at the grass of the verge. I only spotted it at the very last minute as my wheels passed inches away from its tail. Given that a hare’s instinct when threatened is to sit tight and that its greyish-brown coat made it blend very nicely with the muddy tarmac, I could see this wasn’t going to end well. Which was how I found myself taking part in the world’s slowest chase scene, as I tried to persuade the youngster to seek safety away from the road and it kept returning to the tarmac. I didn’t want to chase it too far as its mother would no doubt be coming back for it but finally we compromised on it going up and sitting on a stone by the wall and me leaving it alone. Undoubtedly the minute the scary bicycle monster was gone it went straight back to the road but I had at least done what I could.

These things never happen when you’ve got your camera with you, do they? Still it’s one more reason why I avoid driving: in a car, the first thing I’d have known about it would be when I scraped it off my wheel.

*I’m fully aware that I’m completely inconsistent on the subject of hares vs rabbits, but at least I am consistent in that even when the hares are eating my garden, I’d still rather have them than not. Call me speciesist, but that’s the way it is…


Half Speed

September 24, 2010

I had to take my bike in for a service today*. This meant rather an elaborate journey via Papershop village (which is more or less in the complete opposite direction from Bigtown) and the Old Military Road and then back via the bus and a mile-and-a-half walk from Nearest village (this was at least slightly less painful and a lot less expensive than the other half’s experience getting the car serviced where he discovered that round here it’s generally the wives who take cars in to be serviced and thus that he’d be spending the morning perusing women’s magazines while he waited). Sometimes I resent the sheer amount of time it takes to do things without resorting to the car, particularly when it means ten miles into a nippy headwind along my least favourite cycle route, but there were some compensations, for while I was on the  way there I came round a bend and started up a hare along the road in front of me.

I’ll never get over just how big hares are, especially when they hoist themselves up on their long, long legs and set off with their ears up. Nor how effortlessly fast. And this was my chance to find out just how fast, because I had my GPS with me and I decided to give chase and see how quickly it could go. The hare seemed to be in no hurry to get off the road – indeed, the hare didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry full stop – so I got a good run at it. I topped out (hey, it was uphill and into the wind) at 18.7 mph at which point the hare was pulling away without really breaking sweat. And then it kicked it up a little and lost me on the next bend. By the time I’d rounded the corner and sat up it was gone. The internet tells me their top speed is 45 mph, making them Britain’s fastest land animal. Mine, downhill and more or less out of control, is nearer 30. Hares one, cyclists nil.

* actually I had to take my bike in for a service about three months ago, it’s just that I only got round to doing it today. ‘You’ve broken a tooth on one of your rear cogs,’ the bike shop guy said as he looked at it. ‘That actually takes some doing.’ I probably shouldn’t feel like that was some sort of an achievement…


Waste Not

July 19, 2010

My mother returned home last night, and was driven back from the station by a friend. The journey went smoothly, but sadly they did hit a hare on the way back. The hare, fortunately, was killed outright and the friend, having stopped to check that it was dead and to observe a proper moment of sadness at the passing of such a magical and beautiful creature, then popped it in the boot to hang it for the pot.

This is, of course, the right and proper way to handle such a thing. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to start scraping hares off the road – even freshly killed ones – but it does occur to me that we might not be quite so diligent about avoiding pheasants in the future. They do say, after all, that if you eat meat you should be prepared to kill at least some of it yourself. And it doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t do it by hitting it with your car…


On the Other Hand…

June 26, 2010

… if you do get behind with the weeding

There’s always the chance that someone

or something

will come and do it for you.

As long as you don’t scare them away.

(people ask why I don’t simply use Roundup on the gravel. I think this is reason enough, don’t you?)


Splitting Hares

May 16, 2010

Weeding in the garden yesterday, I had the unmistakable sensation that I was being watched.

Nestled in among the day lillies was a leveret – a young hare.


It was keeping a close eye on the big monster but it sat tight like its mother had taught it and I was able to get my camera and take a couple of photographs before it stood up and unhurriedly loped away.

I suppose it’s a bit inconsistent of me to be charmed by a baby hare but ferocious in pursuit of what’s probably a similarly-aged rabbit. But there’s something about hares – their unflappable air, their long legs, their speed, that makes me look kindly on them. And this one wasn’t in the veg patch, which helps. I was just thinking, before I saw it, that I didn’t really know what to do with that particular bit of garden. It’s too big for a flower bed, too full of shrubs to be much of a lawn, too weedy, too rocky, too rooty to grow anything interesting – altogether more of a pain than anything else. But it does, apparently, make very good hare habitat.

That’ll do me.