Peak District mountain hares left 'sticking out like sore thumb' as fur colour stays white due to unexpected snowfall
Mountain hares in the Peak District have been left ‘sticking out like sore thumb’ to predators after their fur has not changed colour from white to brown, as it usually would in spring because of recent snowfall.
The animals, which are found in the Peak District usually change their fur colour in the spring to blend in with the melting winter and green grass of spring.
But many have been left vulnerable to predators after they were confused by a recent cold snap and their coat remained white.
Mountain hares usually turn white in the winter to make it harder for predators to spot them in the snow and then change colour back to grey or brown in the spring, helping them to better blend in with grassy or muddy fields.
However the recent bursts of unexpected snowfall in the Scotland Highlands and in Peak District, has meant some mountain hares which had already started changing colour have been caught out.
In the Cairngorms National Park, photographer Brian Matthews spotted a few such hares that now stood out against their landscape - making them more visible to predators such as buzzards or golden eagles.
One hare had managed to stay white due to the cold weather - but prior to the snowfall, this made the animal stand out in stark contrast to its green surroundings.
But others had already started turning grey or brown - and were caught out by the blanket of white snow.
Brian, 42, said: "The hares do look quite grumpy.
"They are conscious that they are not the right colour to blend in with their surroundings.
"This puts them more at risk of being spotted by buzzards or golden eagles, which hunt the mountain hares as their main food source.
"The hares end up looking like brown or white blobs against a contrasting surrounding.
"They've been caught out by the weird weather - and it looks like there's going to be more of that moving in."
Mountain hares are just one of three UK species that change their fur colour in the winter - with the other two being stoats, and ptarmigan, a medium-sized game bird in the grouse family.