Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Brown Hare

Brown Hare
Brown Hare




The Brown Hare

The Brown Hare used to be plentiful on Bute when I was a lot younger, but it is now in serious decline with the fox and mink now on the increase.


They had enough predators before to keep their numbers down before, like Buzzards and cars being driven around the Island at nightime with their headlights blinding the hares, so they just ran along the road in front of these cars until they could see an escape route, or, sometimes doing an about turn right into the oncoming vehicle, (and I know for a fact that some teenagers went looking for them to run them over.) That sentence is up to you if you want to include it Craig.
I had a Jack Russell dog (Zoe) that was a very poor traveller, and if I took it more than five miles, she would throw up. This went on for a long while, until one night when travelling along the road to Rhubodach, in the dark, with headlights on high beam, a hare left the verge and headed along in front of us. Then Zoe who was sitting on the engine cover ( The engine was inside the cabin of my van) spotted the hare and became excited, so, as all was quiet on this road and Zoe was still a pup, we opened the door and she went off like a hare and chased the hare, but was no match, but this went on for about 200 yards when the hare spotted a gate and disappeared leaving Zoe a bit frustrated, but since that night she was never car sick again but sat on the engine cover all the time looking for hares, which was in itself was a problem as all the light, heater, etc. Switches were the toggle kind and were right in front of her and if I braked too quickly she would switch all of them on. Like humans, if you have something to keep your attention in a vehicle it is certainly a good cure for travel sickness.

Back to the main subject.
I still occasionally find a dead one on the road, as well as birds a, and not very often a rabbit, so I pick them up and throw them over a hedge where there are no livestock, giving other animals and insects a feast, as, if I left them on the road and they were being eaten by others, they themselves could be run over, and if it is near a tight corner, then drivers going around the body on to the wrong side of the road may meet another vehicle on their own side of the road = collision, so with myself dealing with it, I may help to avoid these collisions.
We used to call the Brown Hare a March Hare, as that was when we saw most of them, some times more than a dozen or so males in a field having a boxing match, with the winner taking his pick of the females. It was fun watching them standing upright on their long hind legs and boxing with their shorter front ones.
Unlike Rabbits, hares live on the surface and their bed consists of a depression in long grass, pushing it back with their back side till it gives them a bit of shelter, and that in itself can give you a fright if you pass beside it while it is having 40 winks, then takes off right at your feet increasing your heart beat by 20-30 beats per minute, then again you are it the countryside, so you should expect things like this but it still gives you a fright.

Norrie Mulholland
First Published in the Buteman 27-01-2012

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