This story about obsessive egg collectors in the UK and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds investigators who track them is as strange and wonderful as it sounds.
On the table next to him was an embossed photo album titled “Egg Collectors and Their Associates.” Under one photograph of a group of men around a picnic table, someone had written, “Who are these guys?” Most egg collectors don’t seem interested in selling or even trading eggs, only in possessing them. “They’re not normal criminals,” Shorrock said. Thomas estimated that there were about fifty active collectors left. “We know who they are,” he added.
Between them, Thomas and Shorrock had been inside many of the collectors’ homes, some of them several times. It was like one big family, almost. Daniel Lingham, whose home contained thirty-six hundred eggs, broke into tears when Thomas and the police arrived in 2004. “Thank God you’ve come,” he said. “I can’t stop.” In 2006, when Colin Watson, an infamous collector, fell to his death from a tree while attempting to reach a sparrow-hawk nest, a Jourdain Society member called the R.S.P.B. as a courtesy. (The headline in the London Daily Mirror read “nest in peace.”) Another time, during a raid on a collector’s house, Shorrock found a piece of paper with his own name and address on it; he subsequently moved.