I think the robin has been ousted from its nest by a blackbird; there was a beady eye and haughty beak peeping out of the crack in the wall the wren had shown me the other day. I didn’t like to get too close, but I am pretty sure.
After checking on the nest I was in creeping mode, and once I am in creeping mode, it’s pretty hard to get out of it in the woods; it feels a bit rowdy and uncouth somehow. Hence the reason I was creeping up the path towards basecamp.
If I hadn’t decided on the spur of the moment to change direction to check on the badger sett, I would never have seen it. On the path in the sun, perfectly blended into the brown leaves still lying around – a shape. First thought, rabbit, second thought, too big, third thought exploding into my brain… hare? NO WAY! HARE!
I had frozen on the spot. The hare, obviously surprised during a doze in the sun, had raised its head. It looked at me. I looked at the hare. It was side on to me. Its coat was a beautiful warm brown colour, shiny and sleek. Its ears were up now, though they had been down, I think, when I surprised it. We continued to eye each other up – it deciding if I was danger, me wondering if it would make a run for it. There was one thing for sure, that camera would have to stay on my back in my backpack – I was scared to move a muscle. So apparently was the hare.
After a while of complete stillness, the hare stood and stretched out all its four legs. No danger of mistaking it for a rabbit now – perhaps a muntjac deer. Its legs were delicate and spindly. Then the hare turned towards me; a completely different profile. We stared at each other again, this time the hare using both its eyes that I could see bulging at each side of its head. Its ears were upright, turned towards me like huge black rimmed radar dishes, dark at their centres too.
The hare seemed to make the decision to move on. I stayed still and watched. The hare stopped behind a trunk. It felt like a test. Making sure I was so very slow, I crouched. And then the hare came back, nibbling a bit here and there. It made its way back across the path in no hurry, not exactly walking, but not exactly hopping either. More of a lollop. I watched it slowly disappear into the trees, the last thing I saw of it, a white tail with a black centre.
I had known we had a hare in the wood. I have disturbed one occasionally and just caught just a glimpse of its tail flashing as it disappeared from sight. Recently on the camera trap we have seen two hares at once so there are at least two here. But never in my life have I been so close to a hare, or in the presence of a hare for that amount of time. Hares have been linked with myth and magic throughout history. I certainly felt the magic today.