20 April 2016

Death

Why did she die? The night before had been chilly for April with snow flurries on the high moors. She snuggled down in the lee of a wall above Hordron Farm and died. Perhaps there was a complication with her pregnancy. Perhaps she just got old and it was her time to go.

That's not the way that I want to depart - curled up by an old stone wall in the middle of a cold night and on my own, never to see another dawn. Nearby two other sheep were watching me as I caught her image with my camera. I wonder if they felt anything at all about her passing.

Then yesterday as I rambled over the Midhope Moor to Pike Lowe, I had a joyous moment when I disturbed a mountain hare. It ran off through the rocks with the unmistakable whiteness of its underside showing. They are extremely rare in England but have been here for several millennia - much longer than the smaller brown hare which arrived during The Iron Age. This was the first time I had ever seen a wild mountain hare and I was thrilled.

Later, I descended the moors towards Gilroyd Lane and Midhope Reservoir. I passed several grouse butts. Then by the gate I saw my second mountain hare but she was stone dead. I guess she had been dead for three or four days because there were some flies around her and her innards seemed swollen. I turned her over looking for signs of a bullet hole. Perhaps she had been killed by a grouse shooter or gamekeeper but there were no signs of injury. I am guessing that she was hit by a passing vehicle on the adjacent country road. Either that or she was poisoned. The grouse shooting brigade don't like mountain hares or falcons or anything else that allegedly interferes with the doubtful pleasure of blasting small brown birds out of the sky.

The joy of the first sighting had given way to a feeling of sorrow and loss. We human beings are privileged to live on a planet that includes such varied and fascinating fauna. She may not have been a rhino or a tiger but the continued existence of mountain hares remains equally uncertain and challenging. If these beautiful creatures join the long list of the extinct then who is to blame?

Anyway, that's my nearby countryside. Not all evocative ruins and lunky holes and frolicking spring lambs and daffodils. Sometimes The Grim Reaper waves his scythe. Farewell Mrs Sheep and goodbye Ms Hare. I bet you both never imagined that you would make the blogosphere and live on just a little while longer. Rest in Peace.

25 comments:

  1. That picture of the sheep is especially heartbreaking. I wonder if she just got too cold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There have been much colder nights during the winter Steve. they are very hardy creatures. The cold the night before should not have killed her.

      Delete
  2. Much as would like to blame game keepers for killing the hare I think it most unlikely. It is sad about the sheep but they require constant attention if one is going to deter them from committing suicide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It must be depressing being a sheep - out in all weathers. I am surprised that The Samaritans don't have a dedicated service for them.

      Delete
  3. A bit too upsetting for me...I'm a sook...and freely admit it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to have upset you Lee. I know you are a very sensitive woman.

      Delete
  4. Really troubling indeed. Poor animals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope those deaths are not ominous for me Blogoratti.

      Delete
  5. Poor things, but such is the course of nature, I suppose. It isn't cruel or benign, it just IS.
    Both Mrs. Sheep and Mrs. Hare may just as well have died of perfectly natural causes than of anything else. If the hare was poisoned, though, that is definitely something to be upset about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today a man I met suggested the hare could have been killed by a stoat but I'm not so sure. Like you say Nature has its ways in both life and death. Nothing lasts forever.

      Delete
  6. I'm glad you saw one mountain hare that was alive and well; it balances out I suppose. What a sad post for a bright spring morning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the next post I promise not to refer to death Jennifer.

      Delete
  7. Heartbreaking indeed. Doubly so when it's a truly wild animal and humans are the cause - whether deliberate or unwitting. I travelled the length of Scotland twice last week and once again I was made sick to my stomach by the sheer numbers of deer and badgers - adults and cubs - killed by motorists and laying at the side of the A9 :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't realise that so many animals died on Scotland's main roads Wanda. Very sad.

      Delete
  8. So sad to read this YP, but it's the way of all things. Poor animals, distressing to think they might have suffered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it is the way of things. You're right.

      Delete
    2. And now we have the devastating news that our National Treasure, Victoria Wood, has died.

      Delete
  9. The sheep makes me wonder about the owner. The mountain hare is exposed to many hazards. I do hope that the species is able to survive in the wild.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These sheep are not really wild Red. They live on the moors from early spring to late autumn but are brought down to the farms and valleys in the wintertime by shepherds with their amazing sheepdogs.

      Delete
  10. Sheep up on the moors and high ground like that have to be hardy. I think there is always a percentage lost every year. They do say that sheep have a death wish - they certainly die very easily - and often alone like that.
    As to the hare. I have seen mountain hares in Scotland but never in England, so you were very lucky. They are my favourite animal and I have a large collection of pictures, statuettes and picture postcards of them. I think my love of the creatures goes back to my Lincolnshire childhood - flat lands in those days meant plentiful hares.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you like tortoises as well Mrs Weaver?

      Delete
  11. I would say you had a very mean day, Mr. Pudding. As witness to the death of two lovely animals. I do hope that the live hare you saw is still not looking for the dear departed mate.

    My mountain had four feet of snow over the weekend. Lots of little budded out trees were casualties in the aftermath.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mother Nature can be so cruel. I hadn't linked the two hares but their story could make a moving feature film - a bit like "Watership Down". You could do the voice over for Harriet Hare and we'll bring in George Clooney for Humphrey Hare. You may have to go out for dinner with him.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful tribute to our animal kingdom.
    www.woodlandtravels.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.