The airport hare, otherwise called Harry the hare, took off at the speed of light on Twitter in recent days.
Barely had a tweet gone out from academic, Dr Neil Reid of Queen’s University, than ‘twittersphere’ went into overdrive with chatter and puns galore.
We had “hare-port”, “United-hare-lines”, to mention but two, but there was also a serious point to it all.
The airport, with cross-runways and a 24/7 operation, is home to the largest population of protected hares in the island of Ireland.
And Neil and his colleague, Anthony Caravaggi, conducted a night time headcount to check on the lively and loveable creatures. In a 90-minute period, they counted 48 hares.
Further analysis of their first survey suggested there were 70 hares on the vast site which is the highest density recorded! For the scientists out there, that’s just under 10 times higher than mean densities in the wider countryside. And that’s superb news for the species!
The survey work continues this weekend.
The airport’s hare expert, John Jeffers, said: “Our hares know they’re on to a good thing. Inside our perimeter, there’s little or nothing to prevent a flourishing population. Our long grass creates a perfect habitat for the hares.
They’re not in the least put off by aircraft or people and co-exist happily.
“No other airport has what we have, and we’re justifiably proud of ‘Harry the hare’ and the expanding population of this iconic wild animal. There’s lots that we do to help the hare such as using specially selected fertilisers.
“The hare is synonymous with the airport and we’re delighted to be doing our bit to protect and promote the species.”