Shell-shocked: 'Addicted' Norfolk man 'illegally collected 3,000 native bird eggs'

20 February 2024, 21:01 | Updated: 20 February 2024, 23:59

Under the order, Lingham is banned from entering Holt Lowes between February 1 and October 1.
Under the order, Lingham is banned from entering Holt Lowes between February 1 and October 1. Picture: Alamy, Norfolk Police
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Police have 'cracked' down on a man, described as having an "obsession with collecting wild birds' eggs", after the force found nearly 3,000 of them in his home.

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Daniel Lingham, from Newton St Faith, was captured on a wildlife trap camera stealing two eggs from a nightjar nest in Holt Lowes, Norfolk Police said.

The force said the 71-year-old was identified by his distinctive walking stick which is seen in the footage, shot on June 9 last year, and a subsequent search of his home revealed the extent of the hoard.

A total of 2,995 eggs were found within the home, including 2,429 eggs from native birds - protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act - in his bedroom.

Of those, 548 were from native birds on the amber list of birds of conservation concern, and a further 546 were of the most serious concern on the red list including linnet, green finch, yellowhammer and house sparrow.

The egg bandit admitted on Tuesday at Norwich Magistrates' Court to five offences relating to the illegal collection of eggs, Norfolk Police said.
The egg bandit admitted on Tuesday at Norwich Magistrates' Court to five offences relating to the illegal collection of eggs, Norfolk Police said. Picture: Norfolk Police
European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) male in Norfolk, England, UK.
European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) male in Norfolk, England, UK. Picture: Alamy

Another collection of eggs, which appeared newer, was found behind a bath panel including a box containing a pair of nightjar eggs with a label "Nightjar 2, Holt Lowes June 9".

Officers also found identifying books, binoculars and an egg-blowing kit.

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The egg bandit admitted on Tuesday at Norwich Magistrates' Court to five offences relating to the illegal collection of eggs, Norfolk Police said.

These included taking eggs from a nightjar on June 9 2023 at Holt, and possessing 2,429 eggs of a non-schedule 1 wild bird on July 25 2023, the day police searched his home.

He also admitted possessing 22 Schedule 1 bird eggs in July 2023, possessing articles capable of being used to identify and take eggs and breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order on June 9 2023.

Lingham has two previous convictions for similar crimes.

In 2005, police 'cracked' down on Lingham’s crimes, resulting in the 71-year old being jailed for 10 weeks after he was found with a collection of almost 4,000 eggs in his home.

While in 2018, he was found to be in possession of more than 5,000 eggs for which he was jailed for 18 weeks and handed a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order aimed at stopping him from committing similar crimes in the future, Norfolk Police said.

Under the order, Lingham is banned from entering Holt Lowes between February 1 and October 1 as well as many other sites across Norfolk and nationally - many of which appeared on place-name labels among the boxes.

Lingham said he had been looking for adders and tiger beetles when he was "tempted" by the nightjar eggs due to his egg-collecting addiction, which was a mental health issue, the court heard.

He claimed a collection on display in a cabinet in the bedroom had come from an Essex house clearance and while they were his, he had not taken them himself from the wild.

Daniel Lingham, from Newton St Faith, was captured on a wildlife trap camera stealing two eggs from a nightjar nest in Holt Lowes, Norfolk Police said.
Daniel Lingham, from Newton St Faith, was captured on a wildlife trap camera stealing two eggs from a nightjar nest in Holt Lowes, Norfolk Police said. Picture: Norfolk Police

Tom Grose, an investigations officer from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: "The scale of egg theft which Lingham has committed over the last 20 years is shocking.

"Sadly, his obsession with collecting wild birds' eggs has ultimately resulted in thousands of breeding birds, which have invested huge amounts of energy into rearing young, to fail.

"We're relieved that this type of crime is now relatively rare in the UK, but this latest case has revealed that the breeding success of the nightjar, a species of conservation concern, has again been targeted in Norfolk by Lingham's illegal actions."

A total of 2,995 eggs were found within the home, including 2,429 eggs from native birds - protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act - in his bedroom.
A total of 2,995 eggs were found within the home, including 2,429 eggs from native birds - protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act - in his bedroom. Picture: Norfolk Police

PC Chris Shelley, from the Op Randall Rural Crime Team, said: "Egg collecting should be a hobby that is confined to the history books, having been made illegal in 1954.

"Thankfully, there are very few individuals now committing this crime but these few, including Lingham, cause a huge amount of harm to thousands of birds, including some of our most at-risk species - in this case nightjar, linnet, yellow hammer and house sparrows to name just a few.

"We would always encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity around bird nests in the coming months to report as much detail as possible using our online form or 999 if in progress."

Lingham is due to be sentenced on May 3.

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