10 a.m., Nostell Park: As we reach the southeast corner of Priory Wood a brown hare runs right in front of us, only ten yards away, crosses the (filled in) cattle grid and hares off across the bottom corner of the wood.
“Did you see that?” I ask the man who’s just been putting a lead on his black labrador “I think your dog must have disturbed it.”
“It’s the farmer cutting this field,” he suggests, “I often see them around. There are a few setts around here.”
He’s wrong actually; a sett would be badgers, it’s just a form for a hare: a shallow depression in the ground. But I don’t like to be pedantic!
It’s great to see a hare so close up, close enough to see the prominent black and white markings at the tips of its long ears and its black and white tail.
Accounts suggest that hares aren’t doing well in the English countryside. Traditionally managed parkland, as here at Nostell, gives them a refuge and hopefully there isn’t too much lamping: hunting at night using powerful spotlights, which is thought to have led to a decline in their numbers in some areas.