Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Three Little Hares

Hares have been scarce these past few years, but their cycle is finally on an upswing. We have a long-term monitoring transect along part of Bolton Road, a narrow gravel road through Jack Pine plantation and Cedar fencerows. This evening I was passing that way on my way to Meeting, and saw three Hares - the most in as many years! The first one vanished into the woods without having crossed the road. The second one, half a kilometre south on same side (west), was sitting thoughtfully, not noticing me at all. Perhaps it was in shock, having just witnessed the fate of the next Hare I saw, which was being eaten on the shoulder of the road by a gray & white raptor – male Marsh Hawk I think. I made a sketch of it on my handheld computer, not having brought my camera. When I drove past the hawk at first, I noticed it as a white bird sitting at the edge of the ditch, less than half a metre from my passing wheels. It hardly looked up from its eating. When I backed up, glancing around for my absent camera, it looked wary. As I stopped and stared, creeping the vehicle forward a little, the hawk became nervous, and flew up, lifting the carcass a bit before dropping it to take off eastward across the road and away. Pale grey back, wings & tail, and white rump. The Hare's flesh was exposed about its shoulders. I took off too, leaving the Hare to the hawk, supposing that it would still be wanted - but stopped again to do my quick memory sketch.


memory sketch of Marsh Hawk and Snowshoe Hare


 


As we stepped out of Ray's doorway after meeting, one of us stepped on a June Beetle – I retrieved it as evidence of early emergence. No-one has seen them before this.


On my way home, I passed a large deer, still grey-coated, watching my lights on the road surface and hesitating. I realized how little hope I would have had of avoidance if it had decided to cross just as I passed.

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