Colin Watson (egg collector)

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Colin Watson
Born c. 1943
Died May 24, 2006(2006-05-24)[1]
Cause of death
Fall from tree[1]
Nationality British
Occupation Power station maintenance worker[2]
Known for Egg collecting
Criminal charge
Criminal penalty

Colin Watson (c. 1943 – May 24, 2006) was a British egg collector who stole the eggs of rare and wild birds from protected wildlife sites throughout Great Britain for over twenty years before his death.

Despite six convictions and fines in thousands of pounds, he amassed the largest egg collection in the country before the collection was confiscated by agents of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) during a 1985 raid on his home. The collection numbered more than 2,000 eggs, including eggs from species such as golden eagles and osprey.[2] He successfully defended himself against the subsequent charge of illegal possession in April 1985, claiming that, with the exception of sixteen eggs, he had collected his eggs before the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. Later in his life, he was convicted on other charges and was issued a £2,800 fine. A year later, he was accused of attempting to cut down an osprey nesting tree with a chainsaw in Loch Garten, Scotland.

Family and friends claimed he had retired from egg collecting during the early 1990s, and his last conviction was 10 years prior to his death.[3] However, he remained on several informal lists maintained by the RSPB and other organizations, detailing around 300 known or suspected egg collectors; the RSPB would log these collectors' cars if they went near the nesting sites of rare birds.[2]

He died in 2006 after falling 12 metres (39 ft) from a larch tree he climbed to observe a nest of a protected species, in woodland near the village of Campsall in South Yorkshire. Although he remained alive shortly after his fall, he died before the arrival of paramedics and was officially pronounced dead on the scene.[2] An inquest at Doncaster Coroner's Court heard from Watson's wife that he had a history of high blood pressure and that he suffered from "dizzy spells". On 30th of August 2006, the Coroner ruled that Watson's death was accidental.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Johnson, Wesley (30 August 2006). "Egg collector died in tree fall, coroner rules". The Independent (London). Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wainwright, Martin (May 27, 2006). "The day Britain's most notorious egg collector climbed his last tree". The Guardian (London). Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Egg thief death 'was accidental'". BBC News. 29 August 2006. Retrieved November 23, 2012.