12 OCTOBER 2018 • 3:07PM
Britain's most prolific bird egg thief single-handedly put the future of nightjars and turtle doves at risk, the RSPB has said.
Daniel Lingham, 65, is facing jail after illegally collecting more than 5,000 bird eggs, including a number of endangered species.
Lingham, who pleaded guilty to five offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, was caught after a member of the public told police she had seen a man “head-to-toe in camouflage gear" picking eggs up off the ground at Cawston Heath in Norfolk, the court heard on Friday.
Officers then searched his home address and found tubs containing eggs under his bed and in the kitchen and living room, with many of them handwritten on.
Colette Harpe, prosecuting, said officers found a total of 5,266 eggs of species including nightingales, nightjars, turtle doves, chiffchaffs, little-ringed plovers, woodlarks and kingfishers.
She said Lingham told the officers who arrested him: "I've been a silly man, haven't I?"
Speaking outside the court, RSPB senior investigator Mark Thomas Lingham’s crimes would have a “huge impact” on the local, regional and national populations of some of Britain’s “rarest and most threatened birds, including nightjar and turtle dove.
He 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.