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.
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.