This book is lovely. There are lots of photographs, very good photographs, the author is a professional cameraman and photographer, and some pretty good words.
It’s the story of a year spent looking at Brown Hares in North Norfolk, in the part of the world that birders and people with boats, both drive through quickly, because they know they are nearing the coast. But just inland the fields are full of Brown Hares and they are worth a look too.
There’s something about Brown Hares that attracts artists – from Durer to our own Robert Gillmor – and this species is particularly photogenic. Why is it that Brown Hares are so much more attractive than Rabbits? On the face of it, they look pretty much the same. They can be mistaken for each other. But a Rabbit is only a Rabbit, but a good Brown Hare is a gem.
I think one attraction of Brown Hares is that they don’t go popping down burrows when the going gets tough – they tough it out up here with the rest of us. When danger looms they must either crouch still (and there are some marvellous close-ups of Brown Hares in their forms) or they must run, and boy can they run! The author captures Brown Hares in motion in several stunning images in this book. Even though they are immobile on the page they look like they are haring along (as indeed they were).
The landscape of North Norfolk is a great setting for images of Brown Hares and the various weather conditions, from mist to hot harvest days and from frosty mornings to snowy afternoons, set off the Brown Hares nicely and help tell the tale of the passing months. Other wildlife, such as flocks of Pinkfeet and Barn Owls on posts, add to the variety and a few characteristic buildings, typical Norfolk churches and windmills, add to the character of the tale.
I could have done without the interlude of looking after an orphan Brown Hare (lots of ‘Awww!’ photographs in this section) but others will find that the best bit of the book, I’m sure.
I spent ages looking at this book – much longer than I thought I would. I kept going back to it and now it is on a shelf I will try to remember to take it down in March, or better, late February, to read about and look at Mad March Hares before going out to look for some myself.
A Message from Martha by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury.