Friday, January 8, 2010

Bedfordshire fields

I’ve always found the countryside a place of healing. After listening to a colleague’s experience of deep sadness this morning I needed to walk in the fresh air for a short while so, on the way home, I stopped off at some of my favourite Bedfordshire fields.

I came across 24 Brown Hares in total, including 12 fairly close to one another. You may have heard of the expression, ‘a Parliament of Rooks’, referring to the occasions when they perch on the ground cawing at one another. But you can also get a Parliament of Hares!

Brown Hares are thought to have been introduced to our shores by the Romans. Chinese Water Deer come from Asia….and we know exactly who they were introduced by: the Duke of Bedford, which I'll come to in a moment. You can tell that this individual is a male by the 'tusk' protruding from under the top lip.

It was the 11th Duke of Bedford who first imported a pair of Chinese Water Deer for his collection at Woburn around the turn of the twentieth century. Both of these died, but individuals from further introductions escaped during the war and established themselves in the local area. I came across 7 here today, with another 7 seen from the car in various places. Last Saturday I went for a walk in Millbrook Plantation and had 21 separate sightings, plus another 5 in the field nearby! On one occasion in February last year, I counted 40 whilst standing at a gateway and panning across the nearby fields!

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