Watch boxing hares up close this winter

Hares boxing CREDIT Simon Stirrup/WWT;

Hares boxing CREDIT Simon Stirrup/WWT; - Credit: Archant

It's traditionally a sight associated with the springtime, but experts at a wildlife centre have said that this is an ideal time to watch one of the natural wonders of our region: boxing hares.

Welney Wetland Centre, near Downham Market, is offering visitors the chance to get closer to the creatures on a series of walks this winter.

There are currently about 60 hares on site, and spokeswoman Emma Brand said many people had the misconception that they only behaved abnormally during the March breeding season.

She said: 'While people are more likely to see hares boxing each other and behaving unpredictably in March, when they are all at it, they do box all the way through the winter. They breed all year round, as well.

'When it's sunny, and not too wet, hares can be quite active. With the mild weather, there is the potential for visitors to see hares boxing on our walks.

'People often struggle to see and truly appreciate hares. Being a creature that is well adapted to open countryside they are able to avoid detection, hiding amongst what little structures can be found.

'If they feel threatened or notice a rival nearby they can reach up to speeds of 45kmph, covering the ground very effectively.

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'The area of wetland creation at WWT Welney called Lady Fen, provides the ideal habitat for hares, a safe area to graze and to breed on.

'Unlike rabbits who keep their young tucked away in burrows, baby hares (leverets) are left out in the open, laying flat to the ground near tussocks of grass or mounds of earth for shelter.'

Hare walks are from 2-3pm Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. More information at www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/whats-on/2015/12/03/hare-walks/

Have you got a nature story for the EDP? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk