'Serial' wild bird egg thief pleads guilty


Daniel Lingham, a prolific egg thief from Norfolk, has pleaded guilty to five charges ahead of his sentencing in May.

Lingham, 71, was caught on a wildlife camera during June 2023 taking European Nightjar eggs from a nature reserve near Holt in Norfolk. He had previously been jailed in 2005 and 2018 after thousands of eggs were found at his home in Newton St Faith near Norwich.

The RSPB said Lingham, who is due to be sentenced in May, was a "one-man machine for devastation" who had caused "untold damage" to the populations of some species.

Some of the thousands of eggs in Lingham's collection (Norfolk Constabulary).


Stealing wild birds' eggs

At Norwich Magistrates' Court, Lingham admitted taking and possessing more 2,400 protected wild birds' eggs. Lingham also admitted breaching a criminal behaviour order following a previous conviction.

In June 2023, Lingham was caught by a remote camera, which had been set up to monitor breeding nightjars at Holt Lowes Nature Reserve, removing eggs from a nest. Police said he was identified by his distinctive walking stick.

In July, officers supported by the RSPB and National Wildlife Crime Unit raided his home and found 2,429 native birds' eggs.

In a police interview, Lingham told officers that his egg-collecting addiction was a "mental health issue" and that some of the eggs had been found prior to his conviction in 2018. Lingham has been released on bail ahead of his sentencing hearing on 3 May.


Egg collecting still a concern

An RSPB spokesperson said: "Although egg collecting incidents have decreased sharply since 2001, when custodial sentences for these offences were introduced some individuals in the UK still engage in these crimes, collecting significant numbers of birds' eggs illegally for purely personal gratification rather than any monetary value."

Following Lingham's 2018 imprisonment, his clutch of thousands of rare birds' eggs were donated to the Natural History Museum.