Most prolific egg collector in recent times took nearly 5,000 eggs, including those of rare and declining birds.
Today (12 October) Daniel Lingham appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court facing five charges contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, relating to the taking and possession of wild bird eggs. He pleaded guilty to all five charges. Sentencing is due to take place at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on 27 November.
The court heard how, on 21 May 2018, Norfolk Constabulary were called to Cawston Heath following reports of a man acting suspiciously. The man – Lingham – was located and arrested after being found with nine linnet eggs on his person.
The police contacted the RSPB and, following their advice, a search was conducted at Lingham’s home in Newton St Faith. Here nearly 5,000 eggs were found stored and catalogued in wooden trays. The collection included the eggs of some of the UK’s rarest birds such as marsh harriers, and those of greatest conservation concern, like nightjars and turtle doves. They had been taken from Norfolk reserves.
Lingham was also jailed in 2005 for 10 weeks after police found a collection of almost 4,000 eggs at his home.
Mark Thomas, RSPB Senior Investigator, said: “At a time when egg collecting is on the decline, Lingham is the most prolific egg collector in recent years. It’s very rare that an egg collection of this magnitude comes to light these days.
“Lingham has taken significant numbers of eggs from some of our rarest and most threatened birds, including nightjar and turtle dove. This will have a huge impact on their local, regional and national population. Birds like the turtle dove are in long term decline – we have lost 94% of our turtle doves in the UK since 1995 and no UK bird is declining faster. These are species that conservationists are working tirelessly to save, for the benefit of future generations.”
PC Tom Pellew and PC Leah Hutchins, both based at Aylsham Police Station, led the investigation.
PC Pellew said: "The sheer scale of the collection of eggs that Lingham had in his possession was very worrying with many of the species involved being endangered.
“We know that crimes of this nature often go under-reported, which is why cases and convictions like this are so important in raising awareness of such wildlife offences.
“The vigilance and assistance of the public is key in preserving Norfolk's natural beauty and wildlife diversity, which is why I would urge anyone who has witnessed offences like this to contact police on 101.”
If you notice any suspicious behaviour around birds’ nests or breeding sites, including people looking in bushes or wading out to islands, often at unsociable hours, please call the police on 101 and RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551.
The five charges were:
- Taking 9 linnet eggs at Cawston Heath on 21/05/2018
- Possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence – items from stop/search
- Possession of 75 Schedule 1 listed wild bird eggs on 21/05/2018
- Possession of 4070 ordinarily protected wild bird eggs on 21/05/2018
- Possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence – items from home address