Photo Gallery: North Norfolk wildlife photographer spends a year chasing hares

My Year With Hares by Martin Haywood Smith

My Year With Hares by Martin Haywood Smith - Credit: Supplied

Martin Hayward Smith has worked all over the world from the steamy jungles of the Amazon to hot sun of the desert, but his latest book follows his journey through the fields of North Norfolk.

My Year With Hares by Martin Haywood Smith

My Year With Hares by Martin Haywood Smith - Credit: Supplied

My Year With Hares combines breathtaking photography with the tales of how Mr Hayward Smith got close to the creatures.

After being commissioned to film hares for a foreign television company, Mr Hayward Smith decided to continue the project for a full year to capture hares in every season.

He said: 'Hares are very appealing, very iconic.

'I remember the first time I saw one when I was a small child walking across the stubble fields on a local farmer's shoot. Suddenly this large mammal jumped up from under me and bounded off across the field. I don't know who was more startled.


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'You are always seeing hares whether you are driving or on the train and I think that just adds to the interest. I was taking stills as well during the comission and I just thought 'this is something I have always wanted to do'.'

Mr Hayward Smith spent the year in various spots in a triangular area between Holkham, the Barshams and Burham Market, covering more than 1,000 acres.

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Like most wildlife photography the project involved finding a spot out of sight and down wind, then waiting patiently.

'Sometimes you would come back with nothing at all in the can,' said Mr Hayward Smith.

'Sometimes you would go out and they would be charging around the fields.'

Although he has travelled the globe, Mr Hayward Smith's love for North Norfolk and the area around his home in East Barsham has not abated.

He said: 'It is fantastic to be doing something on your own doorstep and being able to put something back in there. To be able to make people aware of the animals around them and what the species needs is great.'

The book has a foreword from survival expert Ray Mears, who Mr Hayward Smith worked with on the television series Wild Britain.

As well as following the seasonal journeys of hares, the book also follows Mr Hayward Smith in his attempts to picture the elusive blue hare. He said: 'I was told there was a blue hare, which is like the Holy Grail of hares.

'Blue is what they call a certain colouration, it is kind of silvery coloured. Once I heard that it became my challenge to find it.'

Another remarkable strand of the tale sees the photographer get closer on to one young hare than he would have expected.

Mr Hayward Smith rescued a baby hare that he discovered during one of his trips. Naming her Harlene, she lived in his home for about a month and a half before he returned her to the wild when she was strong enough.

'That was a bit of a wrench but it had to be done,' he said. 'When I first took her in I swore she would not go upstairs but soon she was bounding up and down and eventually she ended up sleeping under my bed.

'She had to go back to the wild it is where she belonged.'

• To find out more about Mr Hayward Smith's work or to buy his book visit www.martinhaywardsmith.com

Have you had a book published? Email Doug Faulkner at doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk

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