Snow, Hare

A couple of weeks ago we had the first snow of the year - according to some pundits we are in for a cold winter this year. I was out on patrol that weekend, trying to finish my survey of the Bleaklow fence. Unfortunately the snow made it such slow going that by the time I'd reached Grinah it was time to turn around and come back. I finally got the survey finished yesterday, it took me seven days in total to cover the 32Km and record the 153 stiles and fences - much of the time being taken up by walking to and from the fenceline rather than along it.

Anyway, I got some photos of Bleaklow in the snow which I've posted below. The first one is of the 'mushroom rock' at Bleaklow Stones - a well-known example of the sometimes wierd shapes that the gritstone weathers into. I've jazzed the picture up a little, but the sun really was directly behind it ;-)

Mushroom rock

The footprints in the snow in from of the rock are those of the mountain hares that live up here - you can see the prints even more clearly in the photo below. This was taken from Bleaklow Stones, the western end of the Kinder plateau can be seen to the left of the photo.

Hare prints

On the same day I was out blundering around in the snow and falling through it into what seemed like just about every rank peat bog in the Peak District, Bob and John were over by Lightside, about 2Km from where I live. John spotted this hare up in the rocks - they often hide up in areas like this as it gives them protection from both the weather and predators - not that they actually have that many predators in the Peak District!

Mountain hare

They are normally fairly skittish (well, they are Lepus timidus after all ;-), so Bob and John spent some time carefully approaching it and as well as the superb photo below, John got some excellent video footage. It is just in the process of shedding its brown summer coat and switching into its white winter camouflage - not a particularly sucessful ruse bearing in mind the limeted amounts of snow we get - all the snow that was on the ground when these pictures were taken has long since gone.

Mountain hare

If you are interested in more information on Mountain Hares, I can recommend a visit to both The Mammal Society's page on them, and the image collection at ARKive.