Walking back from feeding the pigs this morning I stopped for a while to watch the Lapwing in the stubble field. If you catch sight of these birds on the ground they seem quite exotic with a black plume that sweeps off the back of their proud heads, however when they take to the sky they loose their air of superiority with a playful display of rather ungainly acrobatics, looping and swirling around the sky and regularly flapping their large awkward white and black wings. Their call too is playful, they emit a shriek of ’pee-wit, pee-wit.’ Occasionally on a calm spring evening we hear the Lapwing calling through the darkness and it makes me think of friendly dolphin chatter.
As I watched them, it occurred to me that they may be nesting. Like the Sky lark they nest on the ground. I was suddenly tempted to see if I could find a nest, I guiltily walked closer to where the birds were flying, searching the ground all the time in hope of stumbling upon a nest, which in my mind I imagined to be full of eggs. Of course I know that this is wrong and that I should leave the birds alone and not seek out their nests and anyway it was probably too early in the season for nests. In all probability, what I had witnessed in the sky was an elaborate courtship display. Just at that moment I was stopped in my tracks by a hare. The creature had been inches from my foot but so motionless and camouflaged that it had remain invisible to me. It had obviously lain silently watching my approach until my closeness became unbearable and it had to make a dash for safety. Far too quick for my little pocket camera to capture I watched it speed away over the expanse of stubble until it disappeared over the horizon. As I looked down I could see a small indentation in the bare earth. This shallow hole is called a ‘form’ and is the only ‘home’ a hare makes, unlike a rabbit it does not burrow. Hares are shy and elusive creatures and although I often see them in the quieter spots of the farm they are not as common a sight as the rabbit. They live a mainly solitary life out in the open, even giving birth in a simple form, lined with their own fur. The young are born with fur on and eyes wide open , able to run within hours. Maybe it is this that adds to the hares mystical image. It is a free spirit not tied to one place, born into the elements, it does not live a life of mundane domestic monotony, but springs from the earth and runs like the wind.