Today I've found out about 2 further cases of some appalling bird persecution that have occurred in the UK this year, in a year that has seen numerous cases of persecution hit the headlines, e.g. here.
Firstly: The case of serial egg-collector Matthew Gonshaw (aged 49) of Cherrywood Close, Bow in East London who has extended his infamy as Britain's most imprisoned egg collector. He has been sentenced to yet another jail term, for six months, following conviction for stealing and possessing wild birds' eggs, including those of some of the rarest and most threatened birds in the UK.
Watch out for this guy on your local patch - and then phone the police, or maybe some other birders...
Gonshaw's home in East London was raided by officers from the Metropolitan Police and RSPB Investigations unit on 2nd June this year. Nearly 700 eggs were found at the premises.
Gonshaw faced 10 charges, including taking five Golden Eagle eggs and 12 Avocet eggs from the wild, and possessing eggs from specially protected species, including seven Golden Eagle eggs, eight Osprey eggs, 12 Avocet eggs, three Peregrine eggs, three Red Kite eggs, and 12 eggs of other specially protected species. The remaining wild birds' eggs were all illegally held but were from species not covered by Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Eggs seized Press Association
More Eggs seized Press Association
Avocet Eggs Press Association
Becky Owen, reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service in London, said: "We have worked closely with the RSPB and the Met Police Wildlife Crime Unit to secure this conviction and our hope is it sends out a strong message about the seriousness of these crimes. Matthew Gonshaw's criminal actions caused untold damage to wildlife in the UK. He has plundered nearly 700 eggs, including some from endangered species such as Golden Eagles and Ospreys."
This is his fifth conviction relating to his collection.
In April 2001, he was caught raiding a golden eagle's nest in the outer Hebrides and fined £500. In 2002, he received a three-month sentence for stealing rare British species of eggs, but officers were unable to find his collection. In 2004, he was jailed for four months and fined £5,000 in Scotland for taking eggs and he was jailed again for six months in 2005 after being caught with more than 700 eggs.
I would hope the court has set this guys prison sentence to cover the 6 month breeding season, he obviously likes two things: 1) Collecting birds eggs and 2) Spending time in a cell. A bit of advice for Mr Gonshaw - don't drop the soap.
Secondly: The hunting of wild birds in Malta and Cyprus is widely reported, though little ever seems to happen to anyone caught doing it, despite so called EU protection for our migratory birds. Last year I read about hunters from these countries catching boats to Egypt to hunt birds over there and today I found out about Maltese hunters that have been coming to the UK to shoot our birds - see press release below:
Three persons were on Monday night apprehended by customs at Malta International Airport in possession of dead protected birds. The three persons were returning from a hunting trip in the UK.
A joint operation between Customs, Administrative Law Enforcement police, MEPA officials and veterinary services officials revealed a number of protected birds including birds of prey concealed in their luggage amongst other legal game.
The birds were protected by international law. The persons in question are expected to be arraigned in court soon.
This news, along with that above totally appall me, and I hope all people involved in birds conservation and birding get together and stop this from happening, whether it is a "gentle word" in the ear of a known egger, or pressure on politicians...