Sad to see this story in the Daily Mail today, and on the paper's website. On the face of it, someone at the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk was seen to shoot two hen harriers. But look closer and it's all supposition - someone from Natural England, and a couple of 'members of the public' heard a bang, and thought they saw what they thought was a hen harrier fall from the sky. Twice (a right and left?). Add two and two to make five - and you have a headline-grabbing story about the Queen's gamekeeper shooting rare birds. A similar story appears on the BBC website.
So how did it make the papers? Well there wasn't a journalist standing watching at the time. So one can only assume that someone from Natural England - either officially or unofficially - called up the paper with their 'hot news story'.
And what really happened? Time will tell. In the meantime, where is the quote from NGO or BASC emphasising all the sound conservation work that's done by shooters and keepers? I'm prepared to bet that neither the Mail nor the BBC thought to ask them for a comment.
Update Wed 31 Oct: Hard to believe that Prince Harry is now in the frame for the alleged killing (story here). Apparently "the Prince and a friend were the only people known to be shooting in the area last Wednesday when the two hen harriers were killed".
There are still huge gaps in the story though. Like, where are the dead harriers? And why is is that the spokesman for Natural England "heard a shot and saw one of them fall and heard another shot and saw that one fall"? Does sound travel faster than light in Norfolk these days?