Small Landscapes-European or Brown Hares
Every year I give myself themes to focus my activities and build my portfolio. Last year it was the Common Kingfishers and the Grey Seal pups. This year the overall theme is what I call small landscapes. With that I try to capture common or regular animals in our direct environment.
One of the objectives is to try show how amazing your “back yard” can be. Unknown is often uncared. I will walk you trough the process that comes with making images through a series of blogs. Small Landscapes started out with the:
European or Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus)
I knew very little about hares when I started my research. The first thing you need to do is have a basic understanding of a species. This to ensure you know what kind of environments they live in and where you have the best chances to see and document behavior. And after an evening of Internet research I thought wow these things are actually pretty amazing and incredibly tough!
Preparing/knowledge build up:
Lets start with the basics. If you are not truly aware of it the differences between a Hare and a Rabbit are rather obvious when you know them. A Rabbit is smaller, fluffier and most importantly lives in a hole in the ground, usually in colonies. Its larger ears, long powerful hind legs, easily recognize a Hare.
So why are they tough? Imagine this: living above the ground, no double or greasy coat, having to feed on grasses and herby stuff means living in open landscapes. No hole in the ground means sleeping out in the open…and this for a creature that is basically hunted by almost everything that can catch it. Mating season depends on the climate they live in but can start early January and can continue up to as late as August. But the peak is March.
This is when you can see the boxing hares. Contrary to what people think it is usually the female (Jill) that does the boxing. Signaling the males (Jacks) she is not ready or testing them for toughness. She is truly a wily creature, leading males on for days at a time. She does this to find the fittest, strongest male to mate with.
About 6 weeks after mating the doe gives birth to 2 to 6 fully developed babies. The nest is nothing more than a depression in the ground and Mommy only comes once a day to feed them for about 5 minutes. And this for about 4 weeks and then they are on their own.
Location search/stake out:
So with this knowledge I started scouting for areas that could have Hares, open meadows. Preferably with backgrounds not to polluted by buildings and preferably in areas where there is no hunting. In combination with a reasonable amount of leisure activities for humans. The latter is important as Hares are usually very shy and tend to either run away when they hear or see you or disappear in the grasses.
With a spell of frost coming and Hares becoming less active it became more urgent for me to find a location. The reason for this as I have this image in my head of a group of Hares boxing in the foggy mists or snow.
My first location is close by a city called Leiden. And here are the first images I took. I have spent a number of mornings on this location, both early mornings as well as afternoons. But the weather turned colder so the mating there didn’t truly continue. Patience and repetition is going to be the key to get that image I would like to make. One of the best experiences was that a pair chasing each other got with in 10 meters of me on the first morning. So now it will be a game of repetition and ensuring that I will be out there somewhere in March!