The thing about hares is that they are really good at running away. It’s the one big thing they know. Speed is at the heart of a hare’s world: the certainty that they can outrun and out-turn anything that lives.
Turn a corner, enter a field with two or three hares in it: and at once the field is a festival of speed, of vanishing sprinters.
There’s a field half a mile away where, before the corn grows big, I often see half a dozen or more hares – always from about 300 yards. They’re comfortable with that.
I have watched their spring games, and they’re all about speed: chase me, chase me – and then leap and tumble and scuffle, all part of the March madness. They don’t mind me watching: they have speed and distance on their side.
On Sunday evening I took a stroll round the marsh. It had been raining on and off for most of the day. I turned a corner of our nice, new-mown path, came on a hare – and stopped at once. The hare froze too, huge feet doubled beneath it, like Usain Bolt waiting for the B of the Bang.
And then it unfroze. And, of all things, nibbled. Fed on the vegetation. Unworried. I moved a little closer. We held this for a while, until he cantered into cover.
So I walked on, round another corner – and there he was again. So we did it all over again. Both froze. Hare nibbled. Human advanced. Both froze. Hare nibbled… eventually, the hare decided I was getting cheeky and — lolloped away.
He didn’t streak or sprint and gallop or race or dash. He didn’t even canter. Just easy, confident strides at an easy, confident lollop. I measured the distance: he had let me within 15 yards, and for about five minutes, and even when I got too closely he only lolloped.
Humans present no danger on this tiny bit of land, and hare and human both know it. A hint, just the tiniest hint of trust, in the wet June air.
Wild June day 7 Eddie’s Blog