Earlier this week I was due to attend an organised walk with the Small Mammal Society, looking for Brown Hares and Mountain Hares around Dove Stone Reservoir on the edge of the Peak District. Have you been?
If you aren’t already familiar with the place, I recommend you take a look at the Rspb website on the link below There is a large car park, picnic area and toilet facilities (but no cafe) and dogs are allowed. My short walk only gave me a glimpse of the area but there is a 3 mile circular route along a wheelchair/pushchair accessible footpath. Or you can climb higher for a different viewpoint and some good views to be photographed!
If you visit, scan the hillsides for the beautiful Mountain Hare.
By now (December) they have their winter-white coat and as long as there is no snow they are fairly easy to spot: if they are there! Look for their regular runs which tend to go straight up and down the hillside unlike, say, sheep which tend to zig-zag their way.
Check for large boulders and use binoculars to scan beneath the stones as I am told this is where the hares often hide during the day – the morning and dusk being the best time to spot them. Their ears are shorter than that of the Brown Hare and tipped with black.
Sounds like a good photo opportunity if you can get close enough or a chance just to admire the wildlife and scenery through binoculars at a distance.
Here’s a link to the BBC Springwatch programme for a short film on the Mountain Hare: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Mountain_Hare#p007xbdb
If you spot either Brown Hares – or Mountain Hares, the Rspb on the following link would be pleased to hear about your sightings.
If you have visited Dove Stones and have any tips for where to walk, or what to look out for, please let us know by writing in the box at the foot of the page.