I figure that what cousin Hal saw was an young adult Ent, possibly out looking for an Entwife with which to start a family. The older Ents had probably given up looking and had to settle for mere hope, while the younger ones still had a natural drive to continue looking.
For more discussion about the Entwives pertainent to what Hal saw, see A thought about ents under The Lord of the Rings under Books starting with Rednell's post of 16/12/2002 at 12:42.
I have been thinking about entwives lately, and you'all have really explained alot of it to me.But I dont have much else to add that Grondmaster hasent already said.
I have always been under the impression that the hobbits themselves were descendants of entwives. If you think about it:
The entwives disappeared--they are not found after the beginnings of the hobbits.
The hobbits appeared--we have no clear origin of the hobbits, the earliest their history goes back is to the Fallohides and Stoors.
The hobbits were not on the old lists of beings--they are a relatively 'new' species
The entwives would like the shire--the hobbits like similar things the entwives loved.
There is also the effect of the ent-draught on Merry and Pippin ( I don't know if the draught had that effect on everyone who drank it, though).
I disagree about Hobbits being descendents of Entwives. It says at the begining of FotR that Hobbits are descended from Men. Also, why would they be so short if they are descended from Entwives.
I think your disagreement is completely valid Lasgalen. Also, the hair on hobbit feet and heads wasn't anything like lichen and their skin was only green when they got hold of some tainted beer or bad mushrooms.
I think that there is still some entwives left or at least I hope! Ents are the oldest creatures in middle earth. They have to survive forever!