Thursday 5 May 2016

The thing that has to happen before it becomes hare-raising

Warning! This evening's blogpost contains material of a sexual nature. Well, to be more exact, some nature in the act of mating.

Hare activity near Tense Towers continues to be sporadic and a mite frustrating. If the light is good (as it was this morning before 7am), the hares are way, way, way in the distance at the far side of a field. But if the light isn't so great (as it was this evening after 7pm) then the blighters come much closer to the side of the field nearest to home.

After requests for info about the behaviour we had witnessed last week, I was lent a copy of the booklet The Brown Hare by Stephen Tapper, a Shire Natural History. Many thanks AG, it has proved to be very informative.

For instance, I now know that mate guarding by the male is a common behaviour as the female approaches oestrus. And mating is not confined to Spring, but continues through the Summer until September. We notice this behaviour more in Spring because the crops and grass fields are short at this time of year, so the activity is visible.

This evening, things started off much the same as usual, with a little light exercise for a couple of courting hares.

Then, another joined in the chase.

The female, at the front, was initially content to keep the guys at a distance...

 but she soon stopped playing quite so hard to get.

Then it all got a bit complicated, as the chosen mate was continually interrupted by the unsuccessful male...

But after another bout of running around...

the loving couple were finally able to have a few moments of peace.

In five decades of nature watching, this is the first time that I have witnessed hares mating. We didn't have to get up early, or walk for miles in absolute silence, or sit for hours on a patch of damp grass. We didn't even worry about staying down wind. I can heartily recommend the great fortune of being in the right place at the right time.


Mark said...

Wonderful nature. You live in a wonderful place. Thought you might at least like the title! I read your blogs regularly. Best wishes, Mark.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Thanks, Mark. Ha ha, yes, that's a great title! The view from the window this morning is of rain and fog, which three separate weather forecasters (BBC, Windfinder, YR) have inexplicably failed to mention. At least the lawn mower can have a lie-in (the machine, not me).