Hare today and tomorrow

A hare on a road

Loved, feared or revered. Folklore has hares as witches and in fiction they’ve a seat at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Glimpse a resting hare at Sherborne and they may work their magic on you. Those big eyes, droopy whiskers and hunched shoulders brim with personality. Then they’re up and away, darting out of sight while you’re still focusing eyes and camera. That’s the fastest living UK land mammal for you.

March is traditionally the month to spot them, up on hind legs ‘boxing’ like an agitated game of patty cake. But their mating season extends through the year so you could be lucky. It’s always worth scanning the edges of fields and longer grass to catch their grey/brown outlines.

Over the past 20 years or so hare numbers have been slightly more stable after years of decline, even going up in some areas. And at Sherborne the mix of arable, woodland and lush field margins is proving to be just the right mix. As Countryside Manager Simon Nicholas says: ‘The more sensitive approach to farming is making all the difference. The patchwork of hedgerows and meadows alongside the arable fields with uncropped margins also helps.’ Farmers who’ve known and loved Sherborne for decades report seeing up to 12 hares together in one field.

Which makes Simon very happy. For him the hare sums up Sherborne: ‘On a practical level it means we are farming in the right way. We’re helping nature. But I’m fascinated by everything the hare represents. Their rich mythology connects us to the past while their energy propels us into the future.’