My Favourites

Mountain Hare © Copyright Tom Marshall RSPB images

It’s the Big Ears of the Scottish uplands (and big-footed too). Sometimes called the 'blue' hare because of the tinge of its fur in spring and autumn, you can see mountain hares on the middle and upper levels of heathery hills and some other places besides.

What to look for

...Depends on the season. A mountain hare in its winter coat has a mix of white, blue-grey and black (on the ears) fur. The summer coat is much greyer, but still paler than the brown hare of lowland farmland. Be alert for the outline of large ears above heather, or for hares in winter whites that show-up against snow-free areas on hillsides.

Interesting facts

A mountain hare’s broad feet act like snowshoes (it’s North American cousins are called 'snowshoe hares'), spreading the animal’s weight over snow. Mountain hares thrive on healthy young heather, so can be abundant on the middle slopes of hills managed as grouse moors.

When and where to see

There are mountain hares in some unusual places, such as the boggy flatlands of Flanders Moss between Stirling and Aberfoyle. They can be quite easy to see on moorland in Shetland (where the local animals don’t turn white in winter). Strongholds are in grouse-moor areas such as the hills of Deeside in the Cairngorms. Travel the A939 road from Cock Bridge to Tomintoul (traditionally, one of the first to get blocked by snow) to journey across mountain-hare-rich moors.