Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)
Although found in many areas across the southeast, L. europaeus has become much more intermittently distributed during the last century; no more so than in my home county of Sussex. Reasons for the decline are varied but are believed to be connected to a range of factors including agricultural intensification, predation, disease, and both legal and illegal human persecution. It is due to this decline in distribution and numbers that L. europaeus was made a UK BAP priority species for conservation in 1995. Despite its decline, L. europaeus is the only game species in Britain, which does not have a shooting close season.
Although mating can take place almost all year round, with February to September forming the principal breeding season, the familiar boxing and chasing is most easily observed during March and April. Most boxing is typically a doe, the female, fighting off the unwanted sexual advances of a buck, the male, although male to male fighting is also recorded. When a doe is ready to accept a buck, following a period of chasing and a variety of gymnastic like movements, she presents herself and allows the buck to advance and briefly mate with her.
I can't help thinking he's watching me ...
Bjärvall, A. and Ullström, S. (1986). Brown Hare. The Mammals of Britain and Europe. Beckenham, Kent: Croom Helm Ltd, pp. 60-62.
Corbet, G.B. and Harris, S. (1991, third edition). Brown Hare. The Handbook of British Mammals. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, pp. 154-161.