Egg poacher. Two words from a newspaper headline caught my eye and immediately evoked memories of childhood teatime after an afternoon in the fresh air. The egg poacher – four little metal containers in a pan – was put on the hob, eggs were cracked into them, and four minutes later we had poached eggs on toast – delicious.

It quickly became apparent, however, that the newspaper article wasn’t about a metal pan but about a person who poached (ie stole) eggs from birds’ nests. And not just any eggs but highly valued eggs from birds such as eagles and peregrine falcons.

Back in the 50s, looking for birds’ nests was high on a child’s list of ‘Let’s find…’ Did I steal from nests? No, but I searched for eggs that had fallen from a nest. Bird numbers of some species have declined drastically since the 50s and there is an emphasis on protection and conservation. For a few people, however, money gained from poaching birds’ eggs rates more highly than the joy of seeing fledglings and their attentive parents.

Are you a poacher? Or even a poached egg? C S Lewis wrote: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.” Indeed. And if you want to poach eggs, there’s a choice there too. Put some eggs in hot water to poach for your tea or, as the man in the headline did, risk getting into hot water yourself.

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