Country diary: hare today, and tomorrow

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Allendale, Northumberland: Soon these ‘mad’ hares will be less wary as their mating instincts take over. Then the males will chase the females full pelt through these upland fields

We saw their tracks in the February snow, sensing energy in the mass of overlaying prints. Swirling, twisting and doubling back, they were evidence that brown hares, Lepus europaeus, had been having some wild party. Now, with the snow gone, I have to rely on sightings to know what they are up to, but brown hares are clever at hiding themselves, even out in the open.

I watch one crossing the field. Every time the hare pauses, it stops beside a clump of dead thistles. Without seeing it move, I would never spot it among the dull stalks and the faded rushes. Sometimes it flattens down, camouflaged as a molehill or a heap from the muckspreader.

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