Cut­ting the grass re­veals a lev­eret on the lawn

It took An­drew Fusek Peters much pa­tience – and a lawn trim – to fi­nally pho­to­graph a hare and her young.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World - AN­DREW FUSEK PETERS is an au­thor and wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher: an­drew­fusekpeter­

W hen ru­mours of a brown hare suck­ling her lev­eret sur­faced, I felt like a snif­fer dog out to un­cover buried trea­sure. My friend told me that a jill had been vis­it­ing her gar­den in the Shrop­shire border­lands for three years, and was used to hu­mans.

This year, the hare was hid­ing her lev­erets in the gar­den and suck­ling at dusk. My friend de­scribed sit­ting in her lounge each even­ing to watch this mir­a­cle of na­ture through the win­dow. Such be­hav­iour has been rarely pho­tographed, so I felt huge pres­sure to nail it.

I’m no fan of sit­ting in a flimsy pop-up tent for hours, but at least I had my por­ta­ble uri­nal. A badly timed call of na­ture could com­pletely de­stroy my mis­sion. This may be too much in­for­ma­tion, but as any wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher will tell you, hide work re­quires ded­i­ca­tion.

On the first night, af­ter hours of sit­ting and wait­ing, I wit­nessed a graz­ing rab­bit go­ing bonkers and at­tack­ing the hare. And then, as it grew darker, a lev­eret ap­peared. It scam­pered around and headed straight for its mum – it was in­cred­i­ble. Or rather, it wasn’t, from a pho­tog­ra­phy point of view, as the lawn had not been cut and the high grass made the suck­ling baby van­ish – my im­age showed only a placid lago­morph. I was sit­ting on the ‘self-pity pot’ and my wife later told me to “get a life.”

But I am stub­born, and when my friend mowed her lawn, I re­turned to the gar­den, de­ter­mined to wait for won­der. Af­ter three hours, my legs seized with cramp and my thoughts drifted. The lawn edges onto wild up­land and from that wilder­ness the jill popped through the fence to nib­ble on the cut grass. A few min­utes later, she was fol­lowed by her lev­eret, small but per­fectly formed, like a squishy, doughy ver­sion of its mother.

Hav­ing re­cently changed my cam­era to a smaller sys­tem with a to­tally silent shut­ter, I had been trans­formed into ‘in­vis­i­ble man’ on lawn pa­trol, only a few me­tres from where the hare sat con­tent­edly feed­ing her young­ster. Sheer ex­cite­ment made my hands trem­ble. Could I re­ally be wit­ness­ing such a sight? ‘Hare-rais­ing’ doesn’t even come close, and I got my pic­ture.

S The hare was hid­ing her lev­erets in the gar­den and suck­ling at dusk. T

Fe­male hares can pro­duce three to four lit­ters of two to four lev­erets in a sin­gle year.

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