Sunday, April 19, 2009

The leaping hare (Jodie Randall)

Mad march hare: female leaps into the air.


Over the course of the past couple of months I have spent many wonderful evenings in the company of brown hares (Lepus europaeus). During my time watching these remarkable creatures I have had the opportunity to take a glimpse -albeit very brief- into their lives. I have come to know their habits and on the contrary, been surprised and delighted by their unpredictability.

An hour of so before the sun sets, I watch as what at first appear to be lumps of earth rise up from the ground, transforming into hares. They rely heavily on their ability to blend into the landscape. They do not live in warrens as rabbits do, but make a shallow depression in the ground called a form, where they sit motionless to avoid detection. In the evenings, after sitting still for much of the day, the hares lazily get up yawning and stretching their limbs, before they begin to feed. It is not until dusk that the real magic begins.

It is easy to see why the hare has deep roots in mythology and folk tales throughout the world. In Europe the hare has links with witches due to its sudden appearances and its fleetness. In many tales hares are strongly associated with the moon and intuition. And in Africa the hare is commonly portrayed as a trickster.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching four hares. They were in pairs: two groups of two, a short distance apart from each other. Each pair comprised of a male and a female. One pair was busy eating and they were not proving to be particularly interesting subjects, so I turned my attention to the pair on my left. Out of the blue the female of the pair leapt like a cat on hot bricks almost a metre into the air. The saying as mad as a March hare is clearly well founded.

Later that evening it was almost dark when I stumbled upon another pair as I was making my way back home. It turned out to be another male and female. When the male approached too close to the female, she turned around and delivered a harsh blow with her paw, which sent the male running. He settled down a few metres away, looking slightly vexed.

After many evenings in the field it was great to finally see what I had set out to see. Hopefully next year it won't be too dark to photograph the action...


Close up portrait


My website www.jodierandall.co.uk has been updated, featuring a new design and also new images. I upload recent photographs regularly including pictures featured on Nature's Best Photography Students blog, so please keep checking back.


- Jodie

16 comments:

Nathanael Gass said...

Nice shots!

I'm glad to hear your search has been worth it so far!

Jodie Randall said...

Thanks Nathanael!

Best Wishes,

Jodie

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