“Guess How Much I Love You?” by McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram is one of my favourite children’s story books. A publishing phenomenon, first published in 1984, it is the tale of Little and Big Nutbrown Hare out-doing one another in their efforts to express their love to one another. The Isle of Tiree is a paradise for big brown hares and I guess little brown hares too!
The island is renown for its beaches, Machair and incredible range of birds. Perhaps less well known is the fact that while on the Mainland hares are increasingly rare, they are much in evidence on Tiree. Significantly, there are no no deer, foxes, stoats or weasels and Tiree remains the largest rabbit-free island in Britain.
Hares are the fastest land mammal in the UK, able to reach speeds of 35 miles per hour! They rely on running fast to put distance between themselves and danger and would appear to have very good hearing, both of which make it difficult to get near enough to photograph them without a powerful telephoto lens. March is a good month to see the hares, and especially at night, when driving about the island. You catch them in your headlights, but not with your camera!
Apparently the expression mad as a March hare refers to uninterested females fighting off courting males. In Episode Two of Life on the Edge a female hare is seen in leading the males in a merry dance. If you missed the episode or would like to see a clip again it is available here
As I witness the hares romping on Tiree and every time I tell the story of Little Brown Hare and Big Nut Brown hare I am reminded of just how much God loves me. John writes in the Bible saying, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us.“