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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brown Hares of the Derbyshire Dales - A Superb Book!, 2 Dec 2012
By 
Tattersall "Tatman" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales is documented by Christine Gregory on location in the place closest to my heart, my home county of Derbyshire. This is in essence two books, with much of the first part covering the brown hare and their cultural and physical make-up. From their inception in ancient Britain to the mythical and spiritual references of this once sacred creature to their breeding patterns and courtships. We find out that they like a good scrap and are quite adept in the green boxing arena often causing serious injuries; that they have tremendous speed and can turn sharply to throw off most pursuing predators regardless of their agility with some getting up to speeds of 45 mph.

Part two widens the story to where the hare fits in within modern farming and life. With much of Britain's hedgerows and wild pastures now gone, replaced by modern intensive farming practices we find out how this has affected the hare and in turn brought about a large reduction in their numbers. To supplement all of this evidence there are some interesting monologues by local farmers who cite a collection of issues that have brought us to where we are as they try to meet demands from modern society alongside financial pressure brought on by huge supermarkets. One interview features Lord Edward Manners of Haddon Hall, interviewed especially for the book by the author. Much of what is captured paints a potentially bleak picture for many involved in agriculture today which in turn is bleak for the creatures that habitat this landscape.

I cannot help but feel that the real work comes from the pictures in this book, and goes back to my own experiences of `not' seeing hares out and about. Given it takes knowledge to know where they are and how to avoid disturbing them, this is no small task. It takes a lot of patience and personal sacrifice by having to get up at the crack of dawn with the final ingredient of optimism that you are actually going to see one nether mind capture it on film. This alone is a testament to the work Christine has put into the project and have resulted in this most excellent of artefacts. There are also tips on where and how to see hares in the wild, and I will certainly view molehills in a nearby field as potentially a low-lying hare from now on. There are dozens of beautiful photos that not only capture the many facets of the hare, but the Derbyshire landscape.

We find out about the personality of a hare and much to my own ignorance that it is considerably different from a rabbit. Beyond the sleeker body, longer legs and bigger ears, the hare has very different personality traits, almost coming across as the oddity of the British countryside. With an ease for loud noise, yet a desire for silence, and an acceptance of solitude and one for company, the hare seems to have more in common with us than it does with rabbits. That they can gather in groups for fleeting instances and then go on their own way and that they have been known to travel the same paths for generations.

Christine Gregory has done a brilliant job of bringing together the beauty of the Derbyshire Dales with the little known character of the brown hare. The images are themselves worth obtaining a copy of the book, but the text allows you a nice insight into these creatures and their lives in this most special place.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brown hares - a revelation, 22 Nov 2012
This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
The stunning photos are what first strikes anyone fortunate enough to have a copy of this brilliant book. Newly born leverets, hares leaping in the air, hunkered down in the grass, picking their way through snow, feeding, climbing walls, boxing, frisking in the sunshine...... so many wonderful images of one of the most secret and special mammals. And then the photographic range widens, to include other mammals and birds, plus several glorious panoramas of the Derbyshire Dales, setting the brown hare in context of the whole of its local environment. In Christine Gregory's breath-taking close-ups, we see every whisker, all the delicate markings, we see the eyes of the hares shining, in the light of dawn or in the setting sun. The eyes are always watchful and the ears are erect, for these are creatures under threat, on the margins of existence. The photos are glorious but the text, while celebrating the fascinating life cycle of the hare, spells out the threats to wildlife in the way the countryside is managed. We learn how the hare is the perfect indicator of biodiversity and how changes in government policy and agricultural practices impact crucially on wildlife. Although this book focuses on brown hares in the Derbyshire Dales, it has a much wider remit and will delight anyone who cares about the environment. Christine Gregory has stalked hares on the moors at dawn and loitered in midge-ridden fields at dusk, making a commitment to understanding these creatures in a way few could manage. She brings us a comprehensive vision of these beguiling creatures who, with the appropriate protection, could once again thrive, an indicator of positive change in the environment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique, stunning and fascinating wildlife book, 18 Nov 2012
This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
This is both a wonderful book of wildlife photography, and a fascinating work on biodiversity and the loss of natural wildlife habitats. Christine Gregory combines her skill as a photographer with her passion for the brown hare and her extensive knowledge of biodiversity and the impact of modern agricultural practices.

One of the best photos is the picture of a newborn leveret that has been rescued from a stoat on p66. The picture of the tiny hare, fur ruffled and unarguably beautiful, contrasts with a comment from the introduction to the book where the author notes that "they live their often solitary and tough lives out in the open from birth".

On the title page of the book there is a quote from the United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan which states that the plan will "use the popularity of the brown hare to highlight the impact on biodiversity of modern agricultural practices and loss of mixed farms". The author then adds that "this book attempts in a small way to do just that". Christine Gregory has more than achieved her aim.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars updated edition of Christine Gregory's excellent book, 18 Nov 2012
This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
This is the updated edition of Christine Gregory's excellent book about brown hares in the Derbyshire Dales. The format size is slightly different and better proportioned in my opinion and includes a lot of new photographs. These are the result of the authors painstaking field work and it is particularly impressive to see the use of the authors original photography to help illustrate a story which includes sections on the life cycle of the brown hare and perhaps of greater importance, the environmental factors impacting on the ultimate survival of this wonderful animal. It is particularly good to read the comments by local farmers who often go unacknowledged in their pivotal role in maintaining these increasingly rare habitats. However, for me it is the photographs that make the book and anyone who has had the privilege of encountering these creatures of myth and legend will surely delight in this excellent publication.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brown Hares & Wildflower Meadows, 13 Oct 2012
This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
A fabulous book about these exciting and exotic animals. Though packed with brilliant photographs of hares in every season and mood, the concise text is not overshadowed - it is plain and highly informative, authoritative but never condescending. The hare is celebrated in these pages for its speed, lunacy and solitary splendour but also revealed as hunted, exposed to weather and starved by today's sterile pastures. The back story here is the loss of natural due to farming which relies on rye grass. Natural England figures suggest that we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows, much of this in the last 30 years. The good news is that the brown hare is making a modest comeback. If you buy this lovely book you will not regret it - it may even encourage you to get up early in the morning and go look for hares.
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4.0 out of 5 stars ... well packaged - the quality of the photos is good and a decent size so this will make a ..., 13 Aug 2014
By 
Bobby Gittins (Bedford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
Book came quickly well packaged - the quality of the photos is good and a decent size so this will make a good gift. The content is more informative than you might think when you first look at it due to the author's style of writing and it is less of a naturalist's book than I was expecting - however, perfectly happy with it overall.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic photos, 10 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
Beautiful! This book is not only full of information about one of our best loved wild animals, it has a stunning display of photographs showing hares in all aspects of their lives from new born leverets to hares surveying the countryside from a convenient wall! It is worth buying for the photos alone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A WINNER, 7 May 2014
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This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
A beautifully written book with excellent photographs. I would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in wildlife and particularly the Brown Hare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales, 28 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
I absolutely love this book. I love brown hares and this book met my expectations. Beautiful photos accompany a very well written book which will delight anyone with a true feel for this iconic animal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brown Hares as you have never seen them, 16 Nov 2012
This review is from: Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales: The Story of One of the Peak District's Most Enigmatic Mammals (Paperback)
I don't expect I will find a lovelier book anywhere, ever.
In `Brown Hares in the Derbyshire Dales' Christine Gregory aims to show us the links between the health of the hare population and the changes in farming practices and in particular the threats to bio-diversity.
You may want to read it for that - but be prepared most of all to be over-whelmed by the photographs of hares. They are stunning. Hares are so elusive that most of us will only have seen fleeting glimpses: Christine's photographs, from what must be hundreds of hours of patient waiting and observation, take you closer than you are ever likely to be and into a world to which most of us are oblivious. You'll see hares alert, at play, resting, foraging, boxing, fleeing, in groups, close to and in their landscape. She guides you to notice details you never knew - for me the delicate dark face markings, the dark line on their tails.
The hare photos are supplemented by equally magical ones of the Derbyshire landscape in which these hares live and of their companion flora and fauna.
It took me awhile to get beyond gawping at the photos to reading the text but it is well worth it when you get there. You'll find all you could want to know about hares, including tips on where and how to see them, what makes them so clearly distinct from rabbits, their life style, their cultural significance.
The book concludes with a section, again wrapped around translucent, sparkling photos, on their role as indicators of healthy diverse habitats, on how these habitats have been degraded and destroyed and on the conservation measures that would increase the chance of a future thriving population of hares. And by the end of this book, you will know how important a goal that is.
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