notorious egg collector #72

Colin Watson's prey was precious, rare and hidden in dangerous places. And on a windy afternoon this week his risk-taking finally caught up with him.  

While a friend watched in horror, Watson, 63, lost his grip on the slender trunk of a 12-metre (40ft) larch tree he had climbed to check out yet another unusual bird's nest.

The former power station worker tumbled to the ground in woods in south Yorkshire, a region where collectors have often played hide-and-seek with police. Paramedics arrived soon afterwards but the father-of-three had suffered massive injuries and was declared dead at the scene.  

"This is a very tragic incident, but Colin Watson's misuse of his great knowledge was also a tragedy," said Grahame Madge of the RSPB yesterday. "He undoubtedly knew more about birds than many of our own people, but his egg collecting put the very species he hunted in danger. It was in the true sense of the word a perversion of expertise and talent."  

Watson worked as a maintenance man in the big power stations that line the M62 between Ferrybridge and Drax. The scale of his obsession was revealed in 1985 when the RSPB raided the home he shared with his disabled son near Selby, and found more than 2,000 eggs, including those of golden eagles and ospreys.

The Guardian (UK)

May 27 2006

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