THE moment a hare visits its young is one of nature’s most intimate secrets. So when I discovered two newborn leverets in my garden I trained a network of surveillance cameras on to them so I could study the action day and night.

At less than four inches long these leverets were only a day or so old. They crept around on unsteady feet in a small hollow dug into a patch of flowering pink campion.

Known as a forme, this tiny nest was scrated out by the adult female when she gave birth and was where she would return to feed them each night.

I focused a camera here as well as several more along the approach to it.

By the second night, as the cameras flipped over to infrared, an adult hare arrived in the car park. I followed her on my screens as she moved through the front gates, across the car park, behind my workshop and towards the woodland where the leverets waited.

She moved cautiously, stopping frequently to sniff the air, and it was a full 10 minutes before I saw the leveret’s ears flatten on screen.

A second later her shadow loomed over them as she bent to sniff each leveret in turn.

Once the greetings were over, the female braced her front legs and allowed her young to crawl underneath to feed.

I watched as she fussed over them. She turned them over one by one and licked their rear ends. Mammals will eat the droppings of their young to regain nutrients and minimise their scent, protecting them from predators.

After about 10 minutes, the female pawed gently at the ground and pulled leaves over her leverets.

I noticed I wasn’t the only one who watched her slowly hop out of the forme and across the gallery car park. Up above a tawny owl shadowed her as she made off into the fields.

It’s common for owls to follow hares in the hope they will lead them to their leverets.

Although this hare’s time with her young seemed brief, she had their best interests at heart.

The following evening her visit lasted just seven minutes. Again, she tucked her leverets under some leaves before she left, but shortly after she left I noticed a stoat venture uncomfortably close.

The next day I placed a new camera with a microphone at the forme. I had read that hares call up their young to be fed and I wanted to know if there was any truth to the theory.

I found it hard to believe a mother would draw attention to her leverets by calling out.

The microphone was so sensitive I could hear the thud of every hop as the female approached. As I suspected, she did not call out, but instead sniffed the ground.

The leverets also sniffed at the ground before they settled to wait for her. I suspect a hare locates her leverets by scent rather than sound. She possibly also leaves a scent to let her young know where to wait.

The leverets grew fast and soon split up and hid separately during the day. This tactic mitigates any risk of an entire litter being lost in one go.

But every evening both leverets would return to the same spot to wait for the female.

Then one evening there was only one leveret waiting. The female arrived checked all the places she had fed the pair over the course of the week.

The following day I too searched the woodland. I didn’t find the missing leveret, but I did spot its sibling at the base of a small tree. A single dandelion flower hung over it - as if marking this hiding place.

The leveret lay frozen-still, its ears back, looking as though it was a part of the tree. Only the gentle rise of its back as it breathed told me it was alive.

One morning a sudden movement on the camera caught my eye as the female hare rushed into shot. She crouched down near the forme, her ears back. Then a male hare charged onto the scene. They paused momentarily then she was off, with him in hot pursuit.

Hares can have four litters a year and clearly the life cycle was about to start again.

I can’t describe my feelings having finally managed to watch one of nature’s most secret moments.

Robert’s gallery in Thixendale is now open by appointment. To book a free, private viewing visit his website at