Highlands & Islands

Image shows mountain hare with nowhere to hide in Cairngorms

Snow hare Image copyright SAIS Southern Cairngorms

A photograph of a mountain hare in its white winter colouring shows the effect mild temperatures and high winds have had on snow cover in Scotland's hills.

The image was taken by a Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) forecaster in the Southern Cairngorms on Thursday.

Also known as blue hares, Scotland has almost all of the British mountain hare population.

They are Britain's only native hare and may have been here since the Ice Age.

Snow hare Image copyright SAIS Cairngorms
Image caption The hare was photographed in the Southern Cairngorms on Thursday

The hares change colour from brown to white to better camouflage themselves against winter snow.

In December 2015, a mountain hare was photographed against a snowless, green hillside also in the Southern Cairngorms, highlighting the unseasonably mild conditions experienced that winter.

Strong winds

Every winter, SAIS provides reports for Lochaber, Glen Coe, Northern Cairngorms, Southern Cairngorms, Torridon and Creag Meagaidh.

It provides information on the stability of snowpack on the mountains from December until mid-April.

This season, the service has experienced "extremes" of freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls and then thawing mild temperatures and strong winds that strip snow from mountainsides.

Snow could return to Scotland's hills next week.

Long-term temperature maps produced by the Met Office indicate a colder air mass, which raises the possibility of the white stuff - and some cover for mountain hares.

Mountain hare in Southern Cairngorms Image copyright Paul Noble/SAIS Southern Cairngorms
Image caption A mountain hare looking exposed in the Cairngorms in December 2015

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