Tuesday, 19 January 2010
It looks like I will have to declare war
As a rule I am a peaceful kind of guy, I am usually courteous and I avoid confrontation wherever possible, but now I am angry, really really angry because of something I discovered today.
The day started well and I decided to head up to the hills to see if I could spot our local Mountain Hare wearing their white winter coats. Last time I was up at my favourite hare spotting location the Mountain Hare were still brown but beginning to turn white. That trip was ruined because of a chance encounter with a large group of killers/hunters and their hounds.
I knew finding the Mountain Hare would be a challenge because as their coats turn white they are perfectly camouflaged against the snow, and on the tops there is still snow present. Check out Sean Woods wildlife column in the Advertiser, he has a brilliant picture of a white Mountain Hare.
On the way up I took a picture of an inquisitive sheep and a finely coloured pheasant, the clouds were low and the air was cold - just as I like it! All was well when I reached the top, but I discovered I was not the only mad man crazy enough to venture up to such a desolate place at this time of year as I saw a set of footsteps in the snow. However, that was of no concern, what was of concern was that I could not find any trace of hare footprints in the snow.
Snow has been quite a rarity over recent years, but as we know this year there has been snow in abundance. In years gone by the Mountain Hare’s camouflage has worked against it because a brilliant white hare stands out against the greenish brown moor land grass which makes it very easy for enthusiastic amateurs such as I to spot.
But with snow still on the ground in many places I thought this year I will find them by following their footprints in the snow. However, I was puzzled and then worried as I could find absolutely no trace of hare footprints. It was at this point I started thinking back to my December 9th encounter with the hunters and hounds. I knew they did not kill the hares I know of on that day, but had they returned since and killed these timid creatures? Creatures which could never be accused of killing livestock like hunters accuse foxes of. They could not be accused of spreading disease or destroying farmers crops either. In fact a Mountain Hare is neither a predator nor a pest and only people with sick minds could ever dream of butchering them, unless of course they were starving and needed food.
Sadly I found no Mountain Hare today, but I did find remains close to where I encountered the hunters and their hounds. It looks like war has been declared!