Posted 22nd Feb 2018
Reaching a speed of 40 miles per hour at full pelt, the brown hare is one of our great athletes - it could even outpace Usain Bolt
The brown hare's great speed can make it a tricky character to get a look at - luckily, 'made March hares' choose a different sport in the spring, taking up boxing instead of sprinting.
Pugilists are the females, spurning the advances of amorous males by boxing their prospective partners. Their activity is much more noticeable before the grass and crops have grown up to their full height, so it's perhaps not surprising that the 'mad March hare' has come to have a strong connection with the spring months. The pagan festival of the spring equinox took its name from the Teutonic goddess of the dawn, Eostre, whose sacred animal was the hare. Despite rumours pointing to the contrary, the Easter Bunny, who visits us later in the spring is not a rabbit but a hare.
How to do it
Changes in agriculture have led to a dramatic decline in the number of hares. The best places to find them are open grassy or arable fields, especially near to woodland fringes or decent hedgerows where hares can easily find shelter. Get up early to increase your chances of finding a boxing match and stay down wind to prevent your scent giving you away. And remember to leave your dog at home.
The great flat expanses of the Fens are as good a place as any to spot boxing hares. Try visiging the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserves at Willow Tree Fen or Baston Fen and check the fields in between the two.
Derbyshire, Woodside Farm
Devon, Meeth Quarry
Durham, Rainton Meadows
Essex, Blue House Farm
Norfolk, Upton Broad and Marshes
Sussex, Malling Down
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Don Sutherland