We are lucky enough to live in the country, we love what we do. When we are out on the farm we see all sorts of things. Ireland was lacking in lots of wild creatures due to intensive farming, but following a special scheme for farmers to try and protect the environment, there has been some improvement. We also try very hard to make our farm a place where nature can thrive. Every year we plant new trees and hedges.
I can tell you where every oak tree is on our land, where the crab-apple trees are (whose fruit I use for jam). Also where the damsons grow (more jam). I have strong opinions about how hedges should be cut to have the best nesting areas for birds! Our rivers are fenced in such a way to keep the farm animals away from the water, to let the wild-life thrive. Riparian zones, no less!
We have a long stretch of land along a pretty large river, about 30 mins away, which is where we graze a lot of our animals during the summer. I get to go there almost everyday from April to October..I see lots of normal things..rabbits, hares, swans....one day I almost walked into a fox as I turned a corner, around the end of a hedge! However occasionaly you get to see something very special, like Kingfishers and Otters. I can't tell you how excited I get when I see things like this!
At the farm where we milk our cows, about 10 minutes from our house, we have a resident Buzzard...there were very few in Ireland until recent years, but they are slowly repopulating the country, so we consider this a great honour. We see a kestrel regularly and occasionaly a sparrow hawk, and again, rabbits, hares, all manner of birds, including a heron who lives on a small river on the land.
We have land at our house too, which has a beautiful fast-flowing river at the bottom of the farm....a really lovely spot to sit and think....not that I ever do, but if I did, this is where I would go!
After milking this morning, Colm drove in our lane at the house, and came into the house and told me that he had seen something unusual in the field, and that I should go out with my camera....so I changed the lens and off I went in search of treasure.
This is what I found....
Isn't he/she beutiful....
A White Hare...now I know that white hares are not that rare in the "wide world", but in Ireland, they are really quite rare. It seems that following our very harsh winter that hares have started turning white. There is even a survey of sightings of them.
They turn white sometime during the winter and moult back to brown in Spring, which this one seems to be doing.
It was so incredibly exciting for us to have seen this creature, let alone to get a chance to photograph one...we are not serious birdwatchers, or nature watchers...just a couple of people trying to make our farms better places for birds and animals to live, whilst still trying to run an efficient, money making business.