I've been planning on visiting WWT Welney for the swans for a while. Huge numbers of Mute, Whooper and Bewick Swans return to WWT Welney during the winter months. I was hoping to get swan flight images as they come in for the daily feeds. Due to recent bad weather Welney was badly flooded so the majority of the swans had moved in land to feed.
The wetland centre staff had a plan up their sleeve and were taking small groups out onto Lady Fen to see the Brown Hares. Lady Fen is not open to the public so be being able to step foot out onto Lady Fen was a real treat, especially as I've wanted to try to photograph Brown Hares now for quite a while. Our group was quite small with only 4 of us and the WWT warden, this allowed us to ask many questions and get a real insight of the area and Lady Fen.
Lady Fen is specially protected by 4-5ft fences surrounding the whole site to stop any predators, mainly foxes from accessing the fen. This protects the ground nesting birds and the Brown Hare population from predators. It wasn't long before we spotted our first Brown Hare, they were harder to spot when they were sitting still than I thought they would be. They look like mole hills or tuffs of grass from a distance. Most hares would run as soon as we got close but a couple did stay still long enough for me to get some great low perspective images.
As soon as anyone says Brown Hares the first thing most think of is them "boxing", I was hoping we would see some of this behaviour but there wasn't much hope really. Brown Hares are the fastest land mammal in Great Britain, reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. We did get a few that ran past us at speed, thankfully nothing near 40mph. I did manage to get a few shots of them running at speed.
The Brown Hares were definitely the highlight of the trip up to Welney and its one animal I'm hoping to photograph more throughout this year. The only problem now is finding a local population of them near me in Bedfordshire, this is something that I'm scouting locations for at present so watch this space.
Another highlight of the visit to Welney was getting the image below in the Flickr Winterwatch section on the BBC nature website for a few hours the next day. Welney is some where Im going to go back to visit soon, and hopefully see some swans this time too.