Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Hare & The Harrier

This afternoon we were driving a back road through Hare country. I was busy scanning the trees in a hedgerow for Little Owls, when the wife said "There's a Harrier". Sure enough a ringtail Hen Harrier flew down the road in front of us and into a stubble field, where it landed next to a hedgerow. As it flew we could see that it was carrying prey.

Within a minute of the Harrier settling in the long grass, a Hare came down the side of the Hedgerow and 'flushed' the Harrier, which then flew low across the field. At this point the Hare appeared to give chase with the successful intention of preventing the Harrier from landing in the field.

It would be easy to suppose that the Hare was the mother of the Leveret that the Harrier had caught [on blowing up some pictures the Harrier is either carrying a young Rabbit or a Leveret] chasing away its killer. It could though be that the Hare just wanted to be rid of a large and possibly dangerous predator. This would be a similar strategy to that adopted by flocks of small birds that come together to mob Raptors and Corvids. A risky strategy, but an effective one, as the harassed predators tend to move on far enough away from the scene of the mobbing so as to cease to be an immediate danger to the birds. Whatever was happening it was an exciting couple of minutes.

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