Growing up hares seemed much more common a sight, hiding in the long grass or boxing in the fields. These days I rarely see them, but when I do they delight and transfix me, like the one last summer that appeared when I was lost down a country lane and lolloped along in front for several minutes, as if to guide me in the right direction.
For my Wild Encounters blog I researched where I might see some brown hares, and discovered that the Peak district has its own colony of mountain hares, whose coats turn Artic white in winter. Unlike brown hares, which arrived with the Romans, mountain hares are native to the UK, but only naturally in Scotland. They arrived in England probably thanks to introduction by landowners interested in increasing the variety of game to hunt. As with much wildlife, mountain hares are at risk due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting, but in the Peak District, the RSPB conservation work is helping the population of mountain hares to recover. (more…)