Man, 71, admits illegally hoarding thousands of wild bird eggs

A man described as having an “obsession with collecting wild birds’ eggs” has admitted illegally hoarding almost 3,000 of them.

Daniel Lingham, of 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.

Some of the bird eggs found in the possession of Daniel Lingham
Police found 2,995 eggs at Daniel Lingham’s home in Newton St Faith (Norfolk Police/PA)

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.

A further 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”, police said.

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

Some of the bird eggs found in the possession of Daniel Lingham
A collection of eggs was found behind a bath panel at Lingham’s home, including a box containing nightjar eggs (Norfolk Police/PA)

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, he was jailed for 10 weeks after police found 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, Norfolk Police said.

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 force said.

Some of the birds eggs found in the possession of Daniel Lingham
Lingham admitted five counts relating to the illegal collection of eggs, police said (Norfolk Police/PA)

Tom Grose, RSPB investigations officer, 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.”

Some of the birds eggs found in the possession of Daniel Lingham
The RSPB said the scale of egg theft which Lingham had committed over 20 years was ‘shocking’ (Norfolk Police/PA)

“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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