Monday, 26 January 2015

Hare watching, Belfast International Airport

I had briefest of visits to Northern Ireland today, I arrived at Belfast International at about 9am and left at 3:30pm, and barely moved out of the airport all day. However, the day wasn't quite as grim as it might seem, because Belfast International has one of the largest populations of the endangered endemic, Irish hare Lepus timidus hibernicus, and I managed  to see at least 19 of these animals. The first five were from gate 11 in the terminal building (fortunately I had my binoculars with me) and the other 14 were together alongside the runway as we taxied into position for take off.

Despite being quite numerous at the airport, Irish hare is actually a race of the mountain hare that occurs in Scotland and parts of the Pennines. One of the major differences between it and the Scottish hares is that L.t. hibernicus does not turn white in winter. In fact it may even be different enough to warrant species status in it's own right.

Also of note, especially when it comes to totting up the year list, there were several hooded crows flying around the airport.

There is more information on these hares on the Belfast International Airport website here, which is where the photo is borrowed from.

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