A MAN who took eggs from the nest of one of Britain’s rarest birds of prey has avoided jail but been placed under curfew during the nesting season.

Jason North, 49, illegally disturbed golden eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon and little-ringed plover nests on Dartmoor and in Scotland, a court heard.

In late April 2016 he disturbed the nest of an osprey at Carrick Burn in Scotland, returning a few days later when he took the birds’ entire clutch of three eggs.

North pleaded guilty to eight charges of disturbing nesting birds and one charge of taking eggs from an osprey nest in Scotland. Five charges were withdrawn.

He was given a fine and a ten week curfew alongside a six-week suspended prison sentences on each of the nine charges to run concurrently when he appeared at Plymouth Magistrates's Court.

Kenneth Papenfus, defending, said North had never had a collection of birds’ eggs.

He said that “this bird watching is something he has done since he was a child” and he has a “genuine love of wildlife”, adding that North no longer felt able to go our birdwatching on the moors.

North, of Plymouth, Devon, had insisted that he had carried on watching the nests he disturbed and “to the best of his knowledge these are not eggs that failed”.

A probation report said that North did not believe he caused any significant damage.

In a statement given to the court, Claire Tresidder, prosecuting, said conduct like that of North could have a real impact on the survival of rare birds.

There are only 508 breeding pairs of golden eagles in Scotland and just 225 osprey pairs, making them among the rarest breeding birds.

Peregrine falcons are also rare, with only 1,505 breeding pairs and 1,200 little ringed plover pairs.

She said: “In many respects disturbance is no less serious than actually taking the eggs themselves.

The number of cases like this has fallen since 2001, when jail sentences were introduced, from about ten a year in the 1990s to just one or two now.

“Every egg in a collector’s cabinet is a bird that was denied a chance to live,” Ms Shelton said.

The court ordered the confiscation of items related to North’s activity, found at his house in December 2016. these included a Pretzl ascender – a device used to climb a fixed rope, and egg-blowing kits.

Photos and videos of some of his trips were also found.

He was ordered to pay a fine of £665, costs of £750 and a victim surcharge of £115.