Hare today but tomorrow?
One early evening after a photographic trip to the Avon valley, I came across a local photographer returning to his car. He was dressed head to toe in camouflaged kit and carrying an extremely long lens. He told me that if I wanted good shots of hares then I should try the footpath he had just been on that ran up the hill from the Avon valley, starting opposite the car park. Yet another example of local knowledge being essential for the completion of my book.
I also gathered from local people some interesting information. A few years ago there were so many hares on this downland hill that there was a regular shoot when hundreds of hares were shot each time. There are no longer the numbers seen in those days but with some local help I identified where and when to look out for my photographic quarry. It took several two hour searches late afternoon in spring. Hares are shy and normally as you approach all you will see is their white tail as it scampers off ( see above)! However a local dog walker has experienced hares coming right up close to his dog. Reason? Because the hare is bravely distracting the dog from the leverets in the nearby shallow nest (called a form) in a depression in the field. I did manage a few long range shots of hares grazing on the wide grassy margin of the footpath, but I was not going to get close enough without resorting to a hide or extensive camouflage and lengthy waits. This is not practical with my enforced logistics for completing the book.
I ventured further onto the hill to find a field with a growing crop which provided more cover for the hares. I then waited patiently for an hour or so and kept still. The local farmer stopped by for chat and seemed unfazed by me sitting at the side of his field, indeed he was interested in my project to gather together images and record the wildlife before more species disappeared from the landscape. On the second trip, the light was kind and I was rewarded with a hare tentatively poking its head above the crop and then another one, a fair distance away, being a bit bolder and peering round briefly before vanishing. It was late, but I got my shot.
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