Above: Almost 5,000 wild bird eggs were confiscated from Daniel Lingham after his arrest and he was jailed for 18 weeks in November 2018. Photo: RSPB


THOUSANDS OF EGGS that were confiscated following the successful prosecution of a prolific egg collector have been donated to the Natural History Museum (NHM) Tring to aid conservation research.

Over the past 30 years, the NHM has received a small number of egg collections from the police and non-governmental organisations following prosecutions for wildlife crimes. Its most recent donation was the extensive collection seized from serial Norfolk egg collector Daniel Lingham following a court case in 2018 (see News, October 31, 2018 issue).

Douglas Russell, senior curator, birds at NHM, said: “Norfolk Police contacted me in 2018 about Lingham’s collection and I confirmed the eggs, as samples from modern populations of known locality, had major scientific research potential.”

Consequently, the police made representations to the court for the NHM for the collection to be archived on behalf of the nation. This ensures it is available to be studied as a research resource for ornithology and bird conservation.   

In January, Norfolk Police gave the NHM 1,246 egg clutches of 50 different species – including nightjar, nightingale, turtle dove, marsh harrier, kingfisher and little ringed plover – that were taken by Mr Lingham in the UK. They are in the process of being catalogued at NHM and archived for future study.         

Mr Russell added: “Preserved eggshells hold an enormous amount of vital information about the birds that laid them and the current environment. It is, in my view, extremely important that any information that might help us understand and save birds isn’t lost and, sad as illegal collecting is, we should make every effort to archive such material for study now and in the future.”

The NHM is currently involved in a joint project with Professor Tamas Szekely (University of Bath) alongside colleagues at Beijing Normal and Sheffield Universities, which is using the NHM egg collection to investigate changes in egg size and shape in waders in relation to climate change.

For more news from Cage & Aviary Birds, click here.