Thursday 9 February 2012

Hares, Pigeons & Deer

Brown Hare Lepus Europaeus

It was late morning when I bundled mutt and my camera into the car, to go out for the daily walk. Off to see what the snowy conditions might reveal, and although I didn't know it then, it was going to turn out to be a gamey sort of day.

Taking a slightly different route to our favourite woods, it took me past an area that can often be full of hares. However, it is usually quite difficult to spot these leggy ground-dwellers as they hunch themselves up, appearing like clods of earth, from a distance. Today, their cover was blown by the blanket of snow still lying over the fields and very quickly
I was able to spot around fifteen of them as I went by. I watched as they gracefully moved around each other, occasionally taking a practice punch from a startled buddy. (Yes, that season is approaching)

Suddenly, a huge flock of wood pigeon swarmed out of the nearby wood like a black cloud, smothering the white field as they landed to feed on the new crop shoots. This undesired grazing by hundreds of birds was clearly of great concern to the farmer as shortly after, the in-situ gas scarer let off three intense bangs. And did the pigeons move? No. Not a flinch! Only in their own good time did they flock up to move to the next field quarter.

It was time for me to move on too. Mutt was being patient but would rather be off on her way. With a heightened snowy contrast amongst the trees I was hopeful of catching sight of a deer or two during our walk and I wasn't disappointed. A group of five fallow deer pronked through the trees, stopping just long enough for me to catch a couple of shots before vanishing again. Any hope of sneaking up on them was thwarted by our crispy footstep alarm, but for once, I wasn't too worried as what I really wanted was to return to the hares.

Suitably exercised, mutt was left in the car as I set off alone, creeping along a drainage ditch down the side of the field (This is where for once, I was thankful for the dry Autumn/Winter) I wasn't the first to leave footprints in the snow here either. Mr fox had been along sometime before, probably with a similar hope of getting close to a hare or two. Thankfully for me, the air was completely still and so there was little risk of the hares picking up my sound or even, my scent. Conveniently, a stately tree gave me the cover I needed to climb out of the ditch, and I sat amongst its branches hoping that the hares, who were now in much better camera range, might continue their gambol around the field in front of me. Whilst it may have been -1, the lack of any breeze made the long, quiet wait quite bareable. Thanks to my substantial clothing I was snug. The only thing not provided by my coat was camouflage. My normally inconspicuous colour was woefully inadequate in the current conditions, but the hares didn't seem to mind. Instead they just sat, and sat.

Patience finally had to give way to conscience and I returned to the car where mutt had fallen asleep.


  1. Lovely shot of those wood pigeons. I also think I need to get myself a dog too, good incentive to get out and explore a bit more!

  2. Beautiful photos - I can picture there scene perfectly (because I probably often walk the same area!)

    The light on the fresh snowfall is amazing this morning, I wonder what you'll be photographing today?


  3. Thank you Nicholas. I was beginning to wonder if I had seen a 'murmuration' of wood pigeons- I had never seen so many at once.
    You're right, having a dog has taken me to places I would never have seen and with the benefit of the exercise too!

  4. Thank you Celia
    (You have another pseudonym but I soon recognised who you were by the favicon ;-))
    Just wish I could have been out and about in the glorious sunshine today but work was calling so only a couple of boring snatch shots in the street I'm afraid.
    You will have to come and join me on the walk one day!

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