Police and bird conservation experts seized more than 5000 eggs in a raid on a home in a Scots village, it was revealed yesterday.
Officers from Lothian and Borders Police and Tayside Police, along with representatives from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), took the haul from a house in Torphichen, near Bathgate, West Lothian.
They also seized equipment used by egg collectors.
A 57-year-old man has been reported to the procurator fiscal.
Police and RSPB officials have not yet identified all the species of eggs that make up the huge collection.
But they fear it may include eggs laid by rare and iconic Scottish birds – such as the golden eagle, red kite, osprey and perigrine falcon.
A spokesman for the RSPB said the group were battling to “subject egg collectors to the full force of the law”.
He said: “The evidence that has been gathered is being sifted through to establish the full facts and, with a collection of this size, that will take some time.
“The police are now progressing this as a criminal investigation.
“In a collection of this size we would expect to see a vast spectrum of the native bird species in the UK represented, although we do not know as yet precisely what eggs are in the collection.”
He added: “This type of activity is illegal and for a good reason, as it impacts on the ability of breeding birds to maintain their population levels.
“Egg collecting belongs in the past. However, there are a hardcore of people who are continuing the practice.”