We have lots of rabbits around the County. I see them every year, all summer long, hopping into the tall grass along side roads, or in the middle of the driveway at night, eyes bright and ears tall in the headlights before they disappear into the shadows.
What I mostly see in winter are trails in the snow, sometimes ending at the base of a shrub, where the paw prints become muddled with their pellets and half eaten branches. In past years I’ve surrounded the tastier shrubs with cut buckthorn branches – one of the very few positive uses I will grudgingly ascribe to this invasive and really annoying shrub. I didn’t bother this past fall because the past two winters have been mild – rabbits had more appealing choices to nibble on. This year, with a return to normal snow falls, the varmints have targeted the tender young bark and dormant buds of their favourite woody plants.
Also targeted, interestingly enough, have been two purple kales – leaves and stalks – but not a green kale. Here’s a photo of them in September and one from last week. You can see the naked stalks of the purple kale stalk but the green one has simply died with nary a nibble. Weird eh?
End Note… Also seen last weekend —bits of rabbit fur, blood, guts….I think the local coyote may have discovered his or her own source of food this winter; perhaps my shrubs are safe after all…