If left to their own devices brown hares live a mainly peaceful existence hopping around the beautiful British countryside. These stunning little herbivores need to eat a lot, feeding on grasses, herbs, twigs, buds, bark and field crops. They rely on heightened senses to detect predators and once disturbed can reach speeds of up to a whopping 45mph using their powerful long limbs. They prefer a varied landscape of farmland and woodland since this provides them with plenty of food, and a place to rest and take cover. They shelter in ‘forms’, which are shallow depressions in the ground and often use farming vehicle tracks to navigate the rural landscape.

Brown hares have become one of my favourite UK mammals to photograph. I’m very fortunate to have found a location not far from home, enabling me to put in the hours needed to get the portfolio I’ve put together. Their iconic long, black-tipped oversized ears, beautiful fur coats and charismatic personalities make them an absolute joy to watch and photograph. Being a city dweller I find escaping to the countryside in the search of hares extremely relaxing and a great way to forget about my daily worries.

I started this project back in the summer of 2020 when I found a field with several of these stunning little animals hopping around. With permission from the farmer I embarked on one of my most time-heavy photographic ventures to date. At first it was very difficult to capture the type of images I was after but with tenacity my frequent visits started to yield the desired results.

One hare in particular (who I affectionately call Albert) became used to my presence and therefore realised I wasn’t a threat. I still have to approach carefully, but since then I’ve been able to capture shots of a relaxed hare going about his daily business (mainly consisting of eating), which I could only dreamt of when I started this project.

The place that these hares call home is ever changing throughout the seasons. This offers me a wealth of endless photographic opportunities, from bare muddy landscapes in the winter to golden fields and the stubbly remnants of recently harvested crops in late summer. Also the light in open fields with a decent sunrise or sunset is simply jaw dropping. The only problem as the crops grow is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to find my furry subjects.

Sadly brown hares are still hunted in the UK despite the bloodsport being made illegal as part of the Hunting Act of 2004. Hare coursing involves dogs such as greyhounds and lurchers being released to chase and violently tear their victims apart. The human hunters follow on foot or in vehicles and will have bets with other hunters on who will be first to make a kill. These cruel individuals have no regard for wildlife and farmers’ livelihoods. The dogs used in this terrible act will be abandoned once they are too old or injured, since they can no longer keep up with the hares and are deemed to serve no further purpose. This often happens in late August/September, so if you see any suspicious activity please contact the police and if possible the land owner.

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