The Eastern Daily Press offers £1,000 reward to catch egg thief who raided marsh harrier’s nest at Guist, near Fakenham in Norfolk

An egg thief has targeted a marsh harrier

An egg thief has targeted a marsh harrier’s nest near Fakenham. Picture: RSPB

Police say an unknown number of eggs were taken from the site, on the marsh off Bridge Road, on Sunday, May 10.There are around 380 breeding pairs of marsh harriers in the UK.

Most nest in East Anglia, with dense reedbeds on the Norfolk Broads, north Norfolk coast and Ouse Washes among their strongholds.

Feeding on small mammals and birds which live around the wetlands, harriers carry out low-level swoops of their hunting grounds, with their wings held in a distinctive ‘V’ shape.

They are famed for their aerobatic courtship displays carried out in spring, when the male and female birds soar and loop around each other, sometimes throwing items of food in mid-air.

While it is impossible to put a precise figure on the birds’ value to our tourism industry, tens of thousands visit Norfolk from across the UK and further afield each year to see our county’s rich birdlife, including marsh harriers.

Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, said: “Norfolk has an enviable position as being the birdwatching capital of the UK and incidents like this can only damage our reputation.”

Marsh harriers are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and police would like to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area.

Mark Thomas, senior investigations officer with the RSPB, said: “Marsh harriers lay between three and five eggs on the ground, usually in a reedbed or among tall vegetation.

“Whoever has taken them is clearly someone who’s been watching the birds. My understanding is it’s a bird which had only been sitting on eggs for a short time. It’s a species which has been targeted before. We’re all on high alert.”

Up to 300 illegal collectors are believed to be active in the UK, with eggs from rare species highly-prized. They “blow” their booty using small drills before displaying them in cabinets.

EDP editor Nigel Pickover said the newspaper would offer a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief.

“These people damage our wildlife and tourism business just so they can admire something in private. It shows the sort of individuals they are,” he said.

Norfolk is one of the once-rare harrier’s strongholds, with nature lovers flocking to bird reserves like the RSPB’s Titchwell Marsh, near Hunstanton, to see the birds.

Pete Waters, brand manager at Visit Norfolk, said: “Norfolk has an enviable position as being the bird watching capital of the UK and incidence like this can only damage our reputation.”

•Anyone with information should call PC Jason Pegden, at Norfolk police, on 101.

This article written by  Chris Bishop was first published by the Eastern Daily Press.

You can read the Norfolk Constabulary Press Release here.

 

 

 

 

 

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