Full article, by Julian Sawyer.
Click on images to enlarge.
Hare (Lepus europaeus)
The Brown Hare is struggling in some parts of the country but here on the Isle of Purbeck there are still several places that they can call home. In the Spring, before the crops are too high, they can be seen in groups but more commonly in just ones and twos. Early morning and in the evening as the Sun goes down gives you the best chance of a sighting as during the day they prefer to settle in a depression and stay almost completely invisible.
This makes looking for Hares difficult to say the least, you can almost step on them before they decide to run and their strong hind legs can take them to speeds in excess of 40mph. As the crops are cut in late summer it becomes a little easier to spot a Hare but it is always difficult to get close, they are timid by nature and will not tolerate any intrusion. Patience, respect and more than a little luck will help you get good views of these beautiful animals though and those views are always special.
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
We are lucky on the Isle of Purbeck to obtain good views of one of our more common Raptors, the Kestrel, which although often witnessed hovering above main roads in search of mice and voles in the verge, are here found nesting along the cliffs and glimpsed flying at eye level. Triplets have been successfully reared for the last few years and watching them being trained in the arts of flying and hunting is very special. Keep your eyes open and there is always a chance that you will see them hunting for Crickets in the meadows, this is one of nature’s most heart-warming scenes and one that I have consistently failed to catch with a camera.
Sika (Cervus nippon)
The hours around sunset are always a good time to watch wildlife and as the Sun goes down the senses seem to get keener. Sika are by no means rare around here and spotting them is easy, but in the evening they make a noise that has to be heard to be believed.
It is an eerie sound, almost a cross between a crying baby and a rusty door hinge, certainly enough to take you by surprise. Keep out of sight though, wander the quieter paths and let them get on with their own business. This is a ‘must do’ walk.
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
We know that the Sika are common on the Isle of Purbeck but they are not the only deer we have. A much smaller population of Roe share this place and tend to find areas that Sika do not care for. Far more delicate than their Asian cousins, our Roe are shy of people and prefer smaller groups. You are more likely to see them at a distance but if you are lucky enough to get close you may well be treated to a smile that Mona Lisa would be proud of. To me they are at their best in the Summer when they are likely to be seen eating the flowers that fill the meadows and in the evening they have a glow that is only enhanced by the golden light of a setting Sun.
Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
In the Summer the Whitethroat is everywhere and is a very pretty little bird. They spend the Winter in Africa and soon make themselves at home in the Gorse upon arrival in the Spring. Once they start to appear, the air becomes full of their scratchy little song and the sight of a little brown bird with their trademark white throat bobbing up and down on the topmost branches becomes commonplace. The youngsters, as the young of any species, are incredibly cute and sit in two’s or three’s within the hedgerows waiting for a seemingly endless supply of caterpillars.
See More of Julian Sawyer’s excellent Purbeck images at his website, www.purbeckfootprints.co.uk