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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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no 1113963
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more


Mon 15th March 2010 20:22 by Graham Smith
Marsh Harrier versus Brown Hare Thursday March 11th : Blue House Farm EWT Reserve, North Fambridge. An adult female Marsh Harrier was seen to attack a Brown Hare leveret this afternoon. The latter, which was around a third the size of an adult hare, seemed bemused by the assault. It made no attempt to flee but sat looking at the harrier as, with talons extended, the latter hovered above it and several times attempted to pounce on its head. It was only when the harrier tried to grab it by the ears that it reacted, leaping in the air towards it. A female Marsh Harrier is powerful enough to tackle an animal this size but the fact that it had been hunting all afternoon without success probably meant that there was an element of desperation behind this attack. Eventually, a couple of Carrion Crows came inadvertantly to the leveret's aid, mobbing the harrier and distracting it. Meanwhile, the hare stood close by as a spectator, seeming to be unclear as to what to do next. It was only when the harrier resumed its attack, which was again thwarted by the crows, that it appeared to snap out of its trance and skedaddle to safety. Friends have observed female hares protecting their young from harriers by leaping into the air and 'boxing' them, much as they do during courtship, so this youngster had already learned the rudiments of defensive behaviour. As far as I can ascertain most leverets are born from February onwards but this one must have been born early, perhaps having a baptism of snow in December or January.
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