One by one, Britain's racing pigeons are disappearing mysteriously from the sky and worried pigeon-fanciers are blaming everything from comets hitting Jupiter to pollution.
Graham Chupka, a pigeon racer from Reading, about 40 miles west of London, says he has lost 24 of 34 young birds and 10 out of 18 adults this year. Last year he lost none."It's not just me - I'm one of the many hundreds," he said. "No one knows what's actually happening. I've put it down to a lot of the electrical storms in the atmosphere."
But Chupka also said there was a chance that the crash of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter last month had somehow disrupted the Earth's magnetic field on which, scientists believe, the birds in part depend for navigation.
"As the year is progressing things are getting worse," he said.
Major Edward Camilleri, general manager of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, agreed. "The losses appear to be much greater now than 10 or 20 years ago," he told the Times newspaper.
He blamed traffic fumes, which have worsened across Britain with an unusually warm and humid summer.