Wednesday, 5 March 2014

March Madness

March has arrived and with it Winter slowly seems to be slipping away as Spring begins to take hold. I've heard Skylarks singing, seen Robins collecting twigs for their nests, and admired the copious Snowdrops and Daffodils that have been popping up all over the village. Yesterday I even saw a bee!
Spring is on the way!
But as Winter fades away, there is one animal I'm particularly excited about filming this month: The European Hare. Hares are famous for the mania that consumes them at this time of year, as testosterone levels reach their peak in the male 'bucks'.

Unfortunately for the bucks, the female 'does' aren't always too keen on all the extra attention and will often rebuff the males' unwanted advances by lashing out violently with their fists- an act known as boxing. To further test the resolve of their senseless suitors, a doe will also challenge competing bucks to a race. She charges across the countryside at speeds of over 70 km/hour, and only the male that can keep up with her for longest (and hence the fittest) wins the right to mate with her.

Although the breeding season of European Hares lasts from January until August, in April testosterone levels in bucks start to decrease and their madness begins to subside, so this month is my best shot at filming this awesome behaviour. I've only ever filmed my local Hares boxing once, briefly, a few years ago. To film them do the same again this year would be a major wildlife aim of mine ticked off the list!

This morning I went back to the Badger sett to set up my trail cam again. The water in the flooded entrance to the sett had receded, and what's more a strong, musky, vulpine smell lingered in the air around it. Could it be that the Foxes have moved into the recently abandoned Badger sett, effectively switching homes with their mustelid neighbours? To find out I'm going to have to monitor the mound with my trail cam over the next few days, but I'll post an update on here as soon as anything new comes up. 

video
                 A clip of last year's Fox Cubs, shortly after they emerged from their den for the first time in April 2013

The Barn Owl still hasn't shown up, despite weeks of intensive searching. I'll be keeping an eye out for it over the next few months, but for this month at least I'm going to focus all my efforts on finding Mad March Hares.

Let the madness begin!

Billy

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