A WILDLIFE expert was nearly killed after a hunter mistook his night-vision binoculars for fox's eyes and shot him, a court has heard.

Journalist Trevor Lawson was looking for owls on a late-night nature walk on a footpath through farmland near Hyde Heath when he was shot by Anthony Burns, 52, Aylesbury Crown Court heard.

Mr Burns, a mechanic, of Blacksmith Lane, Prestwood, shot Mr Lawson after his binoculars were picked up in a friend's red filter, the court was told.

Prosecutor Neil Moore said Mr Lawson, 37, had a lung removed, spent two days in intensive care and still has part of the bullet under his skin following the incident in April last year.

The jury heard that Mr Lawson, a former member of the Government-appointed Chilterns Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty Conservation Board, had been out walking his dog and heard gunshots.

He decided to investigate and so took his dog home and returned in his car.

Mr Moore told the court that Mr Lawson continued his walk to look for owls and, at around 11pm, saw a red light in the distance and raised his binoculars to look more closely.

The light swept past him in one direction and swept back so he was in the spotlight, the jury heard.

Mr Lawson lowered his binoculars to call to whoever was operating the light, but felt a "huge impact'' on his left side as he was shot, Mr Moore said.

He then called his wife Elaine at their home half a mile away on his mobile phone and told her: "I'm going to die, I've been shot, I'm going to die, I love you."

She dialled 999 and went straight to the scene.

Mr Burns and his two companions also went to help and he too called an ambulance.

He had been out with the two companions in a specially adapted 4x4 vehicle.

Mr Moore said that the prosecution is not suggesting that Mr Burns intended to shoot Mr Lawson but that he had acted recklessly.

He told the court that the British Association for Shooting and Conservation's rules for night shooting state that you should never shoot at a pair of eyes unless you can identify the body of an animal.

The court heard Mr Burns said he had seen the eyes and profile of a fox which disappeared shortly before Mr Lawson was shot.

Mr Burns denies causing grevious bodily harm.

The trial continues.