“Every minute was magical… to be sat there with a Kestrel, a real live Kestrel, my own real live Kestrel on my wrist! I felt like I’d climbed through a hole in heaven’s fence”.
So begins the list of ‘Names of the Hare in English’, a late 13th Century poem from Shropshire – an incantation of 77 names recited to bring the animal under the hunter’s power.
The common, or brown, hare is a special and enigmatic animal woven into the fabric of folklore and mythology, and an unfortunately rare sight across most of the country. Hares declined by 75% in the years after WW2 due to the all too common causes of intensive farming, agrichemicals, removal of shelter hedgerows and general habitat degradation.
‘Welcome, pale Primrose!’ exclaimed John Clare in his ‘Rural Poems’ and there can be few more heart-warming sights than this herald of the returning Spring. With their subtly-beautiful pale yellow flowers with orange-custard centres, Primroses have an almost ethereal presence as they shine gently from hedgerows and amongst woodland leaves as nature unfurls itself in the gradually warming days.
For February the Book of the Month becomes the Author of the Month, as the 12th marks the second anniversary of the death of the outstanding and hugely inspirational botanist, historical ecologist and nature writer Oliver Rackham.