I never thought I'd read that headline, never mind write it. But birdwatchers are, seriously, accusing the RSPB of killing birds of prey. Eagle owls to be precise. On the flimsy grounds that a) an eagle owl was videoed attacking a nesting harrier and b) said eagle owl appears to have met with an unfortunate accident.
Mark Avery is adopting the demeanour of a smacked puppy: "Just to stress," he implores, "there is no truth in the suggestion that the RSPB has been involved in the killing of these eagle owls."
Welcome to my world Mark. I've been a shooter all my life, and never persecuted a bird of prey. When some soppy urban bird-lover asked me to shoot the sparrowhawk killing 'her' blue tits, I told her to get lost.
And I'm sick of all the abuse thrown at 'the shooting industry' (myself included) for, apparently, killing wildlife wholesale out of sheer greed. I'm not an industry, I'm me. I grew up surrounded by wildlife. I love to watch it. Sometimes I like to catch some and eat it. Nothing could be more natural, unless you're one of those 'nature lovers' who hate humans.
Sure, there are some greedy people making a lot of money out of grouse moors, and some of those will be happy to kill harriers etc along the way. I'm not one of them. I despise them, and I wouldn't dignify them with the name 'shooter'.
They are developers, pure and simple. Like a property developer demolishing a bat roost, if wildlife gets in their way, they'll trample it.
I take no pleasure from seeing harriers harmed by owls. But I can't suppress a little smile as I watch the birders tie themselves in semantic knots about which bird of prey is more worthy than another, which one is more deserving of a place in Britain because it lived here before, and how man should intervene (or not) to correct an imbalance that man created (or not) etc, etc.
There's a real battle brewing between the 'leave nature alone and it'll all work out perfectly' brigade, and those who have some fluffy notion of a moment in prehistory when everything was just as it should be, and are forever trying to shoehorn nature into their picture of loveliness.
They're both wrong, and neither can succeed. Nature isn't (and never was) like that, and even if it was there's the little inconvenience of 60m or so humans sharing this small island, most of whom can't tell a house sparrow from a dunnock and are far more concerned with which footballer is going clubbing with whose wife this week, and what shoes she's wearing.
And yes, they'll happily sign a fluffy little letter to say how much they'd like to save the polar bears, but just try asking them to pay another tenner on the weekly shopping so their chicken nuggets can stretch their wings.
You can tell it's been a long week, can't you. Right-o, I'm off to have a weekend before I dissolve into a little steaming heap of cynicism. I might even go and sit in the woods and see if I can get some film of the fox cubs. That or fishing. Best therapy I know!