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.
His second wife Movita, who had a lock put on their refrigerator to stop pilfering by what she thought was the household staff, awoke one morning to find the lock broken and teeth marks on a round of cheese. The maid told her that Brando nightly raided the fridge. Movita also related how he often drove down to hot dog stands late at night, wolfing down as many as six at a time.
The Men (1950) co-star Richard Erdman claimed Brando's diet circa 1950 consisted "mainly of junk food, usually take-out Chinese or peanut butter, which he consumed by the jarful." By the mid-1950s he was renowned for eating boxes of Mallomars and cinnamon buns, washing them down with a quart of milk.
Close friend Carlo Fiore wrote that during the '50s and early '60s, Brando went on crash diets before his films commenced shooting, but when he lost his willpower, he would eat huge breakfasts consisting of corn flakes, sausages, eggs, bananas and cream, and a huge stack of pancakes drenched in syrup. Fiore was detailed by producers to drag him out of coffee shops.