‘Obsessive’ collector admitted stealing thousands of rare birds’ eggs 

An “obsessive” wild bird egg collector from Norfolk has admitted to illegally hoarding thousands of rare birds’ eggs. 

The eggs were found throughout Daniel Lingham’s home, photo by Norfolk Police.

Daniel Lingham from Newton St Faith appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court on Tuesday 20th February, where he pleaded guilty to five offences. 

He was already summoned to court twice before for similar egg offences and was given custodial sentences in 2005 and 2018. 

In total, since 2005, over 10,000 wild bird eggs have been seized at Lingham’s home by Norfolk Police, comprising of many rare and threatened species, including turtle doves and nightjars. 

Home collection 

The 71-year-old man was captured on a wildlife trap camera on 9th June 2023 stealing two eggs from a nightjar nest in Holt Lowes. 

A police search of his home in July 2023 subsequently revealed the extent of his hoard. The officers found a total of 2995 eggs. 

Lingham stored a large collection of eggs in his bedroom, including some non-native species, alongside 2429 native birds’ eggs protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act. 

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, house sparrow and many more. 

A further collection of eggs, which looked much newer, was found behind the bath panel, including a box containing a pair of nightjar eggs with the label ‘Nightjar 2, Holt Lowes June 9.’ 

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

The eggs were found throughout Daniel Lingham’s home, photo by Norfolk Police.

Mental health issue

In the interview, Lingham said all of the eggs, bar the nightjar ones, had been taken before his previous conviction in 2018, although the way they were stored suggested otherwise. 

He further 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. 

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. 

Shocking offence 

In 2005, the Norfolk man was jailed for 10 weeks after police found a collection of almost 4,000 eggs in his home. 

Then in 2018, he was found to be in possession of over 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. 

The eggs were found throughout Daniel Lingham’s home, photo by Norfolk Police.

Under the CBO, the man is banned from entering Holt Lowes between 1st February and 1st October as well as many other sites across Norfolk and nationally.  

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said that the scale of egg theft that Lingham has committed over the last 20 years is “shocking”. 

He added: “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.” 

Lingham will appear for sentencing on 3rd May 2024. 

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