In the far North, where I have done most of my research, Arctic hares retain their white coat in summer. One of my objectives for this trip was to see and document the grey summer coat of the more southern hares. Though we did see one young Arctic hare in Iqaluit, cruising through town and feeding on plants in the parking lot of the Iqaluit jail, it was disappointing to find only hare pellets when we were out on the land. So today at Itilleq Fjord was a special day. It was our last shore landing before returning home, our last group meeting, and everyone was being encouraged to return to the beach for our last Zodiac trip to the ship. It was then that I finally found an adult Arctic hare in the grey pelage!
I was meandering back along a rocky ridge towards the beach, when a hare popped up right in front of me. It ran briefly, stopped and looked at me long enough for a few shots with the still camera, then disappeared over the ridge.
Realizing I had little time, I crossed over the ridge, scanned along the slopes leading down to the water, and then headed back. I did not really expect to find the hare again, but suddenly there it was, sitting motionlessly in the shelter of the rocks. I positioned the video camera and set it on record, and snapped a few more still pictures. Clambering down the rocks, I tried to maneuver a little closer without spooking the hare. It was then that a voice came from the water below: “David, people are looking for you.” One of our team members in a Zodiac had been sent to find me for a last minute photo shoot! It was time to return to the ship, so I had to leave the hare. But I was satisfied. It was the best opportunity I have ever had to document the grey summer coat of an Arctic hare.