Norfolk businessman increases reward for catching egg thieves to £7,000

PUBLISHED: 14:46 09 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:20 09 June 2015

A kestrel is among birds which have been targeted by egg thieves.

A kestrel is among birds which have been targeted by egg thieves.

(C)2014 {Steve Plume}, all rights reserved

A Norfolk businessman has upped the ante in the battle against those who persecute rare birds of prey.

Mervyn Lambert, who is offering £5,000 for information about egg thieves.Mervyn Lambert, who is offering £5,000 for information about egg thieves.

Bressingham-based plant hire boss Mervyn Lambert is offering a £5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of egg thieves.

The total for bringing to book those who devastated a marsh harrier, kestrel and wagtail’s nests is now £7,000.

“I’ll give £5,000 for any information, not only about stealing birds’ eggs but poisoning, trapping and shooting protected birds,” said Mr Lambert, 67.

“As a countryman I’m appalled at what’s happening to our birds. There used to be an abundance of birds, we’re getting less and less and we’re a poorer society for it.

“It’s just horrendous, something needs to be done. Those who steal their eggs, who kill them by shooting them, trapping or poisoning them, they must be brought to book.”

Police are linking the thefts of eggs from three nests in the Wensum Valley near Fakenham.

Breeding sites at Guist and Sculthorpe have been targeted.

The Fakenham and Wells Times and EDP are offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

That sum has been matched by the Hawk and Owl Trust, meaning the thief or thieves have a £7,000 price on their heads.

Nigel Middleton, the trust’s conservation officer, said: “Someone’s gone along the valley and had a bit of a field day.”

He said four eggs were taken from a kestrel’s nesting box, which was positioned on top of a 15ft pole on Sculthorpe Meadow.

“I’ve looked at could it be a predator, could it be a crow, but the female was still on the nest when the police officer and I went up there.

“If it had been a jackdaw or a crow, it would have scuffled the nest about, but there was just a neat depression where the bird was sitting.”

Four eggs were also taken from a grey wagtail’s nest at Sculthorpe Mill.

“All these things have happened at the same time as the marsh harrier’s nest,” said Mr Middleton. “I’m just so angry.”

Police are trying to trace a black Renault Clio, which was seen in the Guist area before the harrier’s eggs were stolen on Sunday, May 10.

A man described as aged in his mid-50s, with brown hair, of slim to medium build and wearing a camouflage jacket was in the vehicle and appeared to be taking photographs with a long lens camera.

Wardens from the trust believe the thief watched the female harrier for some time in order to pinpoint her breeding site near Guist Bridge.

They discovered the thief had left a trail through the reeds, leading to the empty nest.

Police believe there are around 300 active egg thieves in the country.

Norfolk is a prime target, because the county is home to so many rare species, whose eggs are extremely desirable.

Nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Egg thieves can be jailed for up to six months.

Police are urging the public to report any unusual activity during the nesting season.

•Anyone with information about egg thefts should call PC Jason Pegden, at Wells police, on 101.

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