So today I had decided to try for the Peak Districts Mountain Hares rather than go for birds for the year list, since I have never seen one before and I wanted to go while they would still be white.
My research gave me the location around the dark peak estate round Edale, and Kinder scout, though I would have to go by train rather than bus, as it was over the far side of the peak district. I cost a bit, but I hoped it would be worth it.
However, it was only when I was on the train that I discovered that Kinder Scout was the largest Peak in the Peaks, and that on the way up it goes up 200 meters in a Kilometer, and it was very steep. The day started with the peak in thick fog, and the wind was brutal. I could have leant out over the edge and not have fallen off it was so strong.
However, by 12:00 the wind had cleared the fog, and the view had come through and looked stunning. The only bird I saw at this point was a Meadow Pipit which quickly vanished into the fog as soon as I spotted it. However when the fog cleared and I left the edge of the moor and gone onto the Moor and the peak of Kinder Scout the wind dropped too. I found a small path that followed a river, which was strangely just like being back home on the moors there.
I wandered up the river, not really expecting to see hares since I had given up hope due to the weather being so poor, however I was in luck, as looking up one of the small side streams I spotted a white lump sat on a soil bank. Even though I could clearly see it I was still in doubt and thought it was a rock, but when I settled down I got a great view and was able to watch it for some time, sat huddled on the bank.
I wandered a bit closer and got great views, but it ran off as I got too close. A little further on I found another, sat in a similar position but it was much more flighty and I was unable to get very close.
I continued up the river for about a Kilometer with no more hares, but the path seemed to fade out and I decided it would probably be an idea to turn back rather than carry on through. Even as I thought this I flushed another hare from right under me. I lost it, but found it again a little later in a good position. I commando crawled closer and got some really good record shots which I am well pleased with.
I was well pleased that they were still in their lovely winter coat, though they were still difficult to track down despite what seemed an obvious looking coat.
I decided to make my way back down and rejoin the main path and wander home down the Pennine way. I did not spot any hares on the way back down until I reached the same area where I had seen them before. I spotted another hiding underneath an overhang on one of the soil banks. I commando crawled close to it to try and get some good record shots. I was well pleased with my results, and the Hare seemed very placid, which was feeding even as I approached it, until I was only about 3 meters away from it.
That was the final hare I saw on the walk, though it had been an excellent view on a great walk, in the sunshine on top of a great peak. It had been stunning. On the bird front, I spotted Red Grouse, one, and a falcon, though I am unsure what species it was as it was in the sun, but it was defiantly not a Merlin, I think it was a kestrel, though it seemed too big, I think it was too small for a peregrine. I mad my way round the ridge with outstanding views of Edale and the valley and of the Kinder scout peak. I saw a Raven on the way back, which was my first year tick of the day.
There was one point where I could look down on the entire valley on all four sides. It really was stunning, it felt great and the weather had picked up some much. It was just an awesome feeling.
I made my way back down from the peak via the Pennine way and back into the valley and the village. I had to wait an hour for the train but it was well worth it, it was without doubt one of the best days ever. I was so pleased I had spotted some hares, and that they were still in full coat and looking lovely, and that I had been out for a walk in the lovely peaks.
On the train back I spotted a group of Curlew in the fields, which brings my year tick up to 83 species this year...
Red Grouse, Raven, Kestrel, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, Common Buzzard, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Common Pheasant, Robin, Curlew, Jay