Egg collector's hoard to help study of evolution


A clutch of thousands of rare birds eggs, seized from an illegal Norfolk collector, are set to help with research into the evolution of birds after being donated to a national museum.

Daniel Lingham, 65, was sentenced to 18 weeks' imprisonment in November last year after more than 5,000 eggs were found at his home in Newton St Faith. He was also ordered to hand his entire collection of eggs to the Natural History Museum – where they are now set to provide researchers with insights into how egg shapes and sizes have evolved over time.

The collection of some 5,000 eggs is being studied by the Natural History Museum (RSPB).

A researcher from the museum told BBC Radio Norfolk: "We're about to use these three clutches of lapwing eggs in a major study on the evolution of egg shape and size. One of the things that the team is most interested in is the changes over time."

At a sentencing hearing at Norwich Magistrates Court in November, chairman of the bench, Darren Gilkes, heard Lingham, of Newton Park Homes, was described as a "one man crime wave" and told officers who stop-searched him on 21 May 2018, at Cawston Heath in north Norfolk: "I've been a silly man, haven't I?"

Officers later found 5,266 eggs throughout his home, from species including Common Nightingale, European Nightjar, European Turtle Dove, Little Ringed Plover, Woodlark and Common Kingfisher, which had been taken from 134 different locations, including in Norfolk.

He previously admitted five offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, with 53 of the eggs protected under Schedule One of the act. The court had heard Lingham was convicted of similar offences in 2005 when he was jailed for 12 weeks for illegally collecting 3,603 eggs.

He pleaded guilty to taking nine Common Linnet eggs at Cawston Heath on 21 May and possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence – climbing spikes, binoculars and padded containers. Lingham was also made subject of a 10-year criminal behaviour order (CBO).