Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Iberian Hare

Much of our bird photography in Portugal is done from a hide or, more often, from the car. We find a likely spot, make ourselves as comfortable as we can and then wait for something to come within range of the camera. Sometimes we wait for just a few minutes, often longer - much longer.

Of course, it helps if we can be waiting in the right place and we now have several favourite sites which can be very productive when conditions are favourable. In most cases, ’favourable’ has to do with water; unlike in the UK, we have had no success at all in attracting birds to an artificially provided food source. Why is it that birds in Portugal won’t come to seed, peanuts or, it seems, anything else?

One of our last sessions in the Algarve, before we returned for a short break here in the UK, was at a pond where we have seen and photographed a good variety of species in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, on this occasion birds were few but our eventual reward was an Iberian Hare that came to the water. We see plenty of Hares but haven’t before managed to photograph one. This one we were able to watch for several minutes as it came down to drink.

The Iberian Hare (Lepus granatensis), sometimes referred to as Granada Hare, is endemic to the Iberian peninsula and is the only Hare that occurs in Portugal. There has been debate in the past about the taxonomy and previously it was regarded as a subspecies of the Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) that is familiar elsewhere in Europe. However, it is smaller than that species, has relatively long ears and ginger, brown, black and white fur.

We're always happy to see them and were particularly grateful to this one for brightening an otherwise uneventful morning!

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