'Addicted' collector found with thousands of illegally stolen wild bird eggs

  • Watch the moment police confront Daniel Lingham at his home in Norfolk.

A man has pleaded guilty in court to stealing nearly 3,000 rare birds eggs and hoarding them at his home.

Daniel Lingham, 71, from Newton St Faith, Norfolk had appeared in 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.

Lingham admitted five offences relating to the theft of eggs at Norwich magistrates court.

Just some of the thousands of rare bird eggs that Daniel Lingham, 71, from Newton St Faith, Norfolk, admitted stealing Credit: Norfolk Police

All bird species and their eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to take or possess wild birds’ eggs.

Lingham, was captured on a wildlife trap camera on 9 June 2023 sealing two eggs from a Nightjar nest in Holt Lowes.

Investigators were shown the footage and were able to identify him by his distinctive walking stick.

A subsequent search of his home on 25 July last year revealed the extent of his hoard where Norfolk Police found a total of 2,995 eggs.

The court was told that Lingham's collecting was a mental health issue.

Just some of the nearly 3,000 eggs found at Daniel Lingham's property in Norfolk Credit: Picture from Norfolk Police

A large collection was in his bedroom including some non-native species, alongside 2,429 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 a label ‘Nightjar 2, Holt Lowes June 9.’

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

In 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, said police.

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

He said he had been looking for adders and tiger beetles when he was “tempted” by the nightjar eggs due to his egg collecting addiction.

Lingham has previously been investigated and prosecuted.

In 2005 he 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.

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

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.

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."

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