Attenborough Nature Reserve concerns over rare bird egg 'thief'

Eggs Image copyright Attenborough Nature Reserve
Image caption Egg collectors can face up to six months in prison per egg stolen

Fears a collector is planning to steal rare bird eggs from a nest at a nature reserve have been reported to police.

A man has been seen in dense vegetation at Attenborough Nature Reserve, close to the nest of a bird, which has only recently started breeding in Nottinghamshire.

The reserve has been home to rare species like the white-winged black tern, the squacco heron and bitterns.

Egg collectors face sentences of up to six months or a £5,000 fine.

Image copyright John Farrell
Image caption The nature reserve has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Erin McDaid, from the reserve, said staff contacted the police after the man was seen a number of times over the Bank Holiday weekend close to where the nest was known to be.

"It's not the normal behaviour of a bird watcher - he didn't appear to have a pair of binoculars and was clearly observing something quite intently," he said.

"When challenged he said he was new to bird watching and was hoping to see birds but we're pretty confident he was looking to precisely identify where a nest was."

Image copyright Sean Browne
Image caption Common terns are often spotted at the reserve

Mr McDaid would not reveal the species for fear it could attract more collectors but said it was a bird that had not nested in Nottinghamshire "for many years".

"Egg collectors can be quite obsessive about having a particular egg from a particular site or from their own county," he said.

"There is a possibility that he wasn't looking to collect the eggs but what he was doing was potentially putting the nest at risk anyway."

Magistrates have the power to impose a fine of up to £5,000 and six months' imprisonment per egg, under the Protection of Birds Act 1954.

Image caption The nature reserve celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year

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