After the success of our first dedicated Hare weekend back in mid April, it was decided that the time had come to count our Hares on Havergate. The Hares have been in good form recently boxing, chasing and looking quite stunning in the bright early morning sunshine and for us on Havergate this count would have particular importance as we would get out first glimpse as to how badly the cold winter had affected them.
So Charles and Richard (the two residential volunteers on Havergate this week) and I set out bright and early to get our counts. After a brief discussion about how to do it and some gentle ribbing of Charles as to how far he had to walk we set off. The process is relatively simple, the island is walked by three or more people who count the number of different Hares they see. At first results were disappointing, only two Hares were recorded in the southern part of the island. Indeed estimates where quickly being revised downwards!? However, approaching the huts and the thick gorse behind, results began to improve. Soon Hares where being flushed out of the Gorse and along the track and along the Saltmarsh at regular intervals.
One of the hardest things about conducting transects of a fast, mobile creature but also one that is quite adept at hiding is never been entirely sure if you are counting the same individual twice. Also, I must confess as to feeling a twinge of guilt as I chased one poor fellow all the way along the track and down to the Gullery hide (eventually, he was able to escape and head back to the south of the island). So as Charles and Richard headed down and around Main and North lagoons I headed along Cuckolds marsh, eventually meeting back up.
What would our results tell us? Well, the Hares have fared well. Last years count revealed that the island hosted 29 hares and this year the count was.... also 29. A tremendous result! Our Hare population is happy and stable. Largely our Hares are unaffected by many of the stresses of there mainland cousins but the trade off of that is a less than ideal habitat and an above average intake of salt in there diet but with results like these Hares look to have a safe and secure future on Havergate. So, there will be many more Hare weekends to enjoy in the future, however it is worth noting that our regular monthly visits also offer good hare watching opportunities all year round.
Finally, A huge thanks must go to Charles and Richard for their help in these counts.
How are things looking weatherwise for tomorrow? I am booked on the 1May trip to island.
The weather for Saturday afternoon looks great, warm, dry and sunny with little wind. The morning does'nt look so great, overcast but dry.
Hope you have a great day.
Thanks. Hope to see some boxing this time.