'˜Bootleg' bird egg collection delivered to Drusillas

A large collection of rare bird eggs has been anonymously delivered to Drusillas.

Thursday, 26th April 2018, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:34 am

The collection, which features eggs which are more than a century old, was dropped off at the park earlier this week.

A middle-aged couple, who wish to remain unnamed, discovered the collection while clearing out the belongings of a recently deceased relative.

After conducting a bit of research, the couple discovered that perhaps not all of the eggs had been obtained and kept legally and were unsure what to do with the vast collection.

It has been illegal to take the eggs of most wild birds since the Protection of Birds Act 1954.

It is also illegal to possess or control any wild birds’ eggs taken since that time under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

However, Drusillas Park holds a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit which allows the zoo to exhibit such items for conservation and educational purposes.

A person can face serious charges if they are found to be holding on to an unlicensed bird egg collection, so this couple did the right thing by handing them over to an organisation which is licensed to display and store them.

Despite walking a thin line of legality, the collection in itself is highly impressive. It features every type of egg from ostrich, to puffin, to barn owl, hawks and more.

James Woodward, head of education at Drusillas, said, “Two eggs in particular caught my attention. The first was a Brown Noddy egg from Morant Cays in Jamaica. The egg is dated 1902, making it 116 years old. All of the eggs have been blown, which leaves just a hollow shell that can be preserved.

“The second egg I noticed was a sparrowhawk egg, dated from 1908, making it 100 years old. This egg was collected much more locally than Jamaica though, and is listed as having been recovered in Heathfield – so just down the road from us.

“All of the eggs have been impeccably persevered.

“Of course it is completely illegal to take these eggs from the wild and under no circumstances should anyone attempt to remove bird eggs from a nest. But thanks to this donation we are now able to display the eggs for the general public to see and learn about; particularly we will focus on why we must work to conserve each species.

“It’s quite a strange feeling to hold these eggs that pre-date you by nearly a century. It’s a bit surreal when you think about the fact that these tiny things having been on this planet since before you were even a flicker in someone’s eye. Fascinating really.”

The eggs will be going on display in Drusillas’ discovery centre as soon as they have been catalogued and inventoried. Keep an eye out for the collection, which will be available to the public in the very near future.