This mountain hare was painted by my friend Jenny Fell. She used it on the cover of her Christmas card this year. It was lovely to open the card and come face to face with this beautiful creature racing through the snow.
Mountain hares live in upland areas in Scotland and the Peak District and their Latin name is Lepus Timidus .They are also known as blue hares or snow hares.
I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of mountain hares. I assumed that hares were all of the same brown variety. Brown hares were believed to have been introduced to this country in the Iron Age but the mountain hare was always here.
The fascinating thing about these creatures is that their fur changes colour. In winter their coat becomes white with a bluish tinge which helps them to blend in with their surroundings.
Hares have challenges though. The ones that live close to grouse moors are often in danger of being killed in large numbers by the estate managers who manage the land. In August 2016 the Scottish charity OneKind launched a campaign to help protect them.
They also form a substantial part of the diet for golden eagles so if the hare numbers are reduced then it affects the eagles as well.
Fortunately, as you can see from Jenny’s painting, they have powerful legs which allow them to run very fast and leap long distances and their furry feet make perfect snow shoes.
Jenny is a great person to go walking with because she know the names of plants and she can identify the calls of birds. She is also a talented artist. Her artwork inspired me to think about nature. I hope it inspires you too.
I also think the hare would be a great character for a story.