Safari in Northern Germany: at “Hare Paradise” Nordfriesland

Feldhase, frontal, Radierung, Chine Collé, Heike Pander

Feldhase, frontal, Radierung, Chine Collé, Heike Pander

Never did I imagine that hares could become the highlights of a vacation. All I intended was hiking in the mud and to spend some time at the sea.

Nordfriesland – until recently a white spot on my internal map. That has changed significantly. I thought of the area as flat, with more sheep and cattle than inhabitants, long walks in the mud and a strong wind blowing 24/7.

We have made ourselves comfortable in the “Druidenhain” somewhere out there near the little town of Neukirchen which is close to the border of Denmark. Huge trees line the narrow road, flowers bloom on the roadside. Nothing moves except us, two sheep, twittering birds, a peaceful hornet, a rabbit and the self-propelled lawn mower. The farm is idyllic, indeed.

Hares at Dawn

Neukirchen has a few restaurants and a shop for basic shopping which is done quickly. On the way back after dinner I detect brown spots in the low cut grass. The brand new binoculars unravel the secret: Hares! In Brandenburg one rarely sees them. I surely enjoy seeing them here. They like large, wide meadows with wild herbs and plenty of opportunities to hide. Industrially operated agriculture does not allow for that. Manure and sterile fields make this habitat unattractive for the rare hares. Apparently to a degree that they prefer to open up new space in the urban areas of Berlin’s east. But that’s a different story.

Starting a hare-safari

We came to this spot to enjoy nature and the North Sea – I always dreamt of hiking in the mud and to look for shells. Nature is aplenty here – but that the hares become the greatest attraction, comes as a surprise. The days are long in June and distractions of the bigger cities are far enough away. As a matter of fact I have enough of city life on a daily basis at home. So what can one do on the “plat land” if one still has energy in the evening after the day trips and one does not want to rot in front of the TV? Exactly: get off the couch and go on safari. Which is possible even in this northernmost part of Germany. My travel companion drives the car, I clinge to my binocs. We cruise the small streets between Neukirchen and villages with sonorous names like Rodenäs, Klanxbüll and Aventoft.

Feldhase, Rückansicht, Radierung, Chine Collé, Heike Pander, grau

Feldhase, Rückansicht, Radierung, Chine Collé, Heike Pander, grau

Dozens of Hares

As we drive along I scan the fields and pastures and count – hares. After only five days, I add up the hare sightings to the incredible number of 111. That I did not expect as their numbers have been declining for years. Nevertheless I have to admit I might have counted one or the other twice… We even saw the animals hanging out in small groups. This is rather unusual, because they prefer to move on their own. Except during the mating season. Then you see them sitting in the meadows, sniffing each other scrambling around. After fierce fights, males and females can be seen mating. In good years they produce offspring several times a year – that’s why we see them now. I could just stay here and watch them feeding and playing all day.

Hares in etchings & print

Unfortunately, my old SLR camera gave up. The Hares are way too far away for the smaller camera to take good shots. I guess I have to do without photographs of this safari. I take the images with me – stored in my mind and draw the hares later, do etchings and print them on the printing press. These results are good enough to be enjoyed.

Feldhase, läuft, Radierung, Chine Collé, grau, Heike Pander

Feldhase, läuft, Radierung, Chine Collé, grau, Heike Pander

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