Birds' egg society faces inquiry

THE Charity Commission is considering an investigation into the Jourdain Society, a group of birds' eggs enthusiasts which conservationists claim is used as a network by illegal egg collectors, writes Mary Braid.

The move comes three months after Operation Avocet, Britain's biggest police operation against collectors of wild birds' eggs, in which 11,000 eggs - including those of golden eagles, ospreys and peregrines - were seized in raids on homes in over seven counties. Criminal charges may be pressed against some illegal collectors or "eggers".

A commission spokesman said that a complaint had been received about the society and was being considered. But he refused to give any details about the complaint or reveal when it was made.

The Jourdain Society recently rejected allegations by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds that the registered charity - named after the Reverend FCR Jourdain, a Victorian clergyman and prominent ornithologist and oologist (egg expert) - was be i ng used as an information exchange by Britain's 200 hard-core eggers. But Chris Mead, senior officer at the British Trust for Ornithology, insisted that the society provided a network for illegal collectors and said it had become the "pariah of the bird- watching world".