Chasing Tails

I always look forward to the arrival of spring as winter loosens its grip and the land awakens. The weather is slowly warming and as the days get longer I can usually be found in full camouflage at the edge of a grassy meadow, waiting for a pair of ears to pop up.

The experience is inevitably uncomfortable, and quite often ends in disappointment as a white tail bounds away. It is, however, very exciting and extremely rewarding when things go well.

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The lighter evenings of late April are a great time to explore areas of grassland for juvenile rabbits, or kits. Rabbits live in underground burrows and come out to feed on vegetation, or bask on sunny days. This can make them relatively easy to find and photograph, although patience and basic fieldcraft skills are still needed.

Last year I discovered a very productive area by a small country lane. As always, I spent some time observing before attempting to take pictures. There was a large warren under a hedge between the meadow and the road. The adult rabbits would show first, followed by the kits which were less cautious, often hopping out in twos or threes.

Near to an entrance hole, and amongst the lush new spring grass, was a patch of nettles and Red Dead-nettles. A young kit would occasionally rest between the plants creating a lovely scene. On one occasion it had been sat a while when another appeared and they settled together for a moment giving me the image I had hoped for, a pair of wild bunnies together in the colours of spring.

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Recently, I have been working a new local site with several large open warrens and the potential for creating some nice images. Although I will photograph a single rabbit, if the setting or lighting is special, my aim is to try and get two or more animals together which obviously increases the level of difficulty.

The shot below came from one of my first visits to the new location and shows two juvenile rabbits backlit by the rising sun. This type of image works so much better if both subjects are in sharp focus so I had to be patient and wait for the right moment. The bunnies did not seem too bothered by the strange clicking thing hiding in a patch of nettles and I was able to capture this lovely scene.

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