These cute animals were on my list for quite some time. On my way to the northwest coast of Scotland to attend a workshop on woodland photography (a blog follows soon) I scheduled a few days in the Cairngorms region to look for them.
I arrived in Inverness on Wednesday and did some scouting in an area where they should be according to information I got from friends and colleagues photographers (many thanks for that!). Time was too short to get up the mountain but conditions looked wonderful: good snow cover and the weather forecast for Thursday looked good!
Next day, eager to start the adventure, I was on the spot at 09,00am ready to climb the mountain path. But this is what a hunter in his quad also decided. I saw him driving up the hill, looking with his binoculars, the riffle ready. Worried and concerned I nevertheless decided to go up; in any way it would take me at least an hour to get up the path full of drifting snow. A Frenchman who came down the path (was he happy he could speak French!) told me he had seen several hares running away, but that the hunter would be gone by 11,00am and the hares would return some time afterwards.
The beautiful valley I was in opened up when I got higher up. What an incredible marvelous environment I was in; I could sit down and look at this for hours. And this is what I also did when the path leveled out on a plateau. Waiting for the hares to come back and enjoying the landscape. In the distance I saw the hunter driving down, but on the other hand a new danger climbed up: other photographers; I hoped there would not be too many! It would take them an hour so I had to find a hare before that: my hare!
This was my hare and I stayed with this guy for over 3 hours; in that time I could carefully approach him within less than 3 meter: (I know for certain because the minimal focusing distance of my 500mm lens is 3 meters). After a while he was so confident with me that he closed his eyes for a while enjoying being outside in his little cosy niche he had made for himself. Lying down in the snow for too long is not a healthy occupation and I had to stand up; my knees were hurting and the snow became wet; but even then the hare kept on snoozing. What a wonderful feeling this is to get tolerated by an animal!
Next day, Friday, I would come back! But an approaching storm ruined the plans; the Frenchman told me he tried to get up but that it was impossible; the winds up there were terrible; you could not stand your feet!
On Saturday I had to drive to the coast so that would be it with the hares! So I only managed to photograph one hare (all the picture are the same animal) but oh boy, did he give me some splendid opportunities! Thank you hare!
The rest of the pictures can be seen here: https://www.mountain-hares.julienherremansphotography.com