Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Hare


Sitting Tight

On the Scottish Tour I ran earlier this month we found a rather scruffy moulting Mountain Hare. At first given his apparent ear length I thought he was a Brown Hare. However he was on a pasture aside a rough upland moor and was standing his ground but as I got a closer he got a little edgy and went around the other side of a drumlin. As he did so he showed his pure white tail that lacks the dark streak of the Brown Hares we often see in Norfolk. His darkening pelage is a far cry from the all white beasts Tania and I photographed up in Scotland during January. Sadly the numbers of Mountain Hares are now much depleted from when I first started running the trips to Scotland 11 years ago.

Next years tours to Scotland in April are now advertised. Two trips to choose from. Details are here and here


Hair of the Dog

Stumbling out of our hotel into minus seven degrees of frost took our breath away. But it didn’t take our breath away as much as climbing up the mountain through the frozen heather and snow fields. We must have seen twenty or more Mountain Hares last Wednesday on that crisp blue skied morning, but they weren’t easy to approach. As we ascended slowly up the gullies where the hares were basking in the sun the boggy ice cracked beneath our feet with the retort of a shotgun. Eventually one of these enigmatic animals hung-fast long enough to get a shot or two.



Sign here …

The Hen Harrier persecution continues in Scotland, England and Wales. There’s been lots on social media about what’s happening and last week the RSPB issued a paper on what they see as an impartial viewpoint on the state of driven grouse moors.

It has to be remembered the days of a small bag of grouse on an afternoons ‘entertainment’ on the moors are long gone. This is an industry.

What I’d thought I’d do is unwrap the salient environmental points raised to make the situation easily and quickly understood.

  • The management of driven grouse moors has benefits for some waders.
  • Some predators are legally killed to increase productivity.
  • Statistics indicate some predators including Peregrines, Red Kites, Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers are illegally persecuted to increase productivity.
  • Grouse Moors are a major originator of our fresh water.
  • Grouse are treated against worm infections by use of chemicals and there is concern that these chemicals are entering the wider environment.
  • To aid tick infection of Grouse Deer and Mountain Hares are culled.
  • Diseases may be spreading to Black Grouse due to the intensity of Red Grouse populations
  • Driven Grouse moors may be breaking article 7 within the EU bird directive designed to protect the habitat.
  • There is little or no legislation covering the grouse moor industry.
  • The burning on deep peat areas to achieve new bud growth on heather, which grouse feed upon, is breaking government regulation.

Please read the full paper for an in depth picture. I feel it’s now important we get this discussed in parliament and legislate the industry.

I’ve signed a petition here

At 10,000 signatures… the government will respond to this petition

At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

I don’t often ask anything of ‘Letter from Norfolk’ readers but I strongly urge you to sign too.

If this doesn’t work more direct action may need to be taken to stop persecution of Hen Harriers and Mountain Hares. The situation has got to a disgusting state and is out of control. This Red Grouse as taken on our Scottish Birders Long Weekend last April.

Red Grouse






Simply Unthinkable to ignore everything but the headlines

Hares are enigmatic creatures wrapped in folklore. Perhaps it is their mystique that makes them so appealing. During our trip to Scotland last weekend on the Cetacean Tour we saw several.

These were Mountain Hares; not white as we usually see them on our April Bird Watching Tours but donning their silver summer pelage. Now, before I generate a picture of a Hare bounding over a series of breaking waves like some adapted Guinness advert; I’d like to point out that the tours I run are headlined by a particular species or group of species. Last weekend it was cetaceans. However, if something lands in our lap like this Mountain Hare leveret we wouldn’t ignore it. To simply pass it by without so much as a sideways glance would be unthinkable.

Mountain Hare – just one of the 14 species of Mammal we saw on our four day tour which included Bottlenose Dolphins and Pine Marten.


Looking for Alice

While we were in the Scottish Highlands last weekend we saw a magical animal.

I love watching Hares at anytime but combine the moment with one that turns white in winter and adapts itself so well to its environment then they becomes irresistible. The Mountain Hare evades its nemesis, the Golden Eagle, by sitting motionless and becoming a rock. We found this one in an undisturbed part of the mountains. The only thing that gave it away was the neat row of footprints leading to its hiding place.

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Mar 2023


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