6 May 2007

Hare today...

I spent a couple of early hours at the southern end of my walkable patch this morning - the fields and farmland around Radford Semele.

There was plenty of wildlife to complement the woodland and riverside birding I did yesterday at Leam Valley. Yellowhammer were much in evidence, cock birds sitting high on hedgerows and singing lustily. A Willow Warbler joined in from a patch of woodland near the village, and the well-hidden village pond harboured a Grey Heron, Moorhen and two Mallards.

Further out from the village I was delighted to find four Lapwings flying about. Although they are relatively common in local farm fields during the winter months, they are getting scarce across the county as a breeding bird. A lot of work has gone into encouraging farmers to operate in a manner that is helpful to birds like Lapwings, so who knows - perhaps this is a sign of better things to come.

A Buzzard patrolled overhead, a Kestrel scoured the hedgerow edges for prey, and high over them both were a good number of trilling Skylarks.

There were plenty of other birds on show, including some favourites like Whitethroat, a Green Woodpecker, and the recently arrived Swallows. But the final words goes to the mammals, perhaps fittingly after yesterday's fox and muncjac deer sightings.

As I returned home along the main farm track, three 'lumps' in a ploughed field turned out to be Brown Hares, and I was able to spend a good 15 minutes watching two males sparring over a female. She was clearly, and submissively, in the 'possession' of one of the males, a situation not entirely accepted by the other. Sadly for him his repeated attacks had got him nowhere near her - I left him regaining his breath and considering fresh strategies.

The photo is not, you may have noticed, of a hare in a ploughed field. Correct. This, as they say, is one I took earlier. In fact, it's perhaps worth saying that I had no camera with me for the whole weekend - something I wasn't much looking forward to. However, I think it did free me up to be a more acute observer - so if you're a birdwatcher reading this and in the habit of taking your camera everywhere (as I am), why not leave it at home every now and again - you might be surprised how it changes your birding experience (PS. I'm taking no responsibility if an incredibly rare bird perches photogenically in front of you on that day).

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