I was down at one of the fields the other day, and as I was stomping back through the grass, cursing the person who stole my camera trap, I almost trod on a hare.
Springing out from beneath my feet it dashed off to the other side of the field, tall and brown and elegant. Where it had lain there was a perfect hare-shaped imprint in the short growth. Needless to say it cheered me up.
Hares are sadly becoming rather rare now, and indeed, are increasingly hard to find in large parts of the West Country. Loss of habitat, and changes in agricultural practice are big factors. Growing grass monocultures for silage has deprived them of food, while cutting too early and too often can kill whole families of leverets. Spraying with pesticides too takes its toll as the young hares will stay still as the beams pass over them, dousing them in toxic chemicals.
Hunting is an issue as well, with tens of thousands killed by shooting and dogs, and no closed season or quotas.
Given the pressures they are under it brought back to me the importance and the relevance of small islands like the one I can trying to make. Places safe from sprays, or combines or shooting. With any luck they will stick around.