TWO men obsessed with birds disturbed the nest of a rare goshawk, causing it to abandon a clutch of eggs, a court heard.
John Latham and John Kinsley were arrested last May after being spotted by police near the nest in north Wales.
Magistrates heard that both had previous convictions for offences committed out of their obsession with ornithology.
A month before being arrested in the Clocaenog Forest, Latham, 26, of Spurling Road, Burtonwood, Warrington, received a mobile phone text message from a prolific egg collector about the nesting site.
After Latham and Kinsley were arrested, two rolls of camera film were seized.
Kinsley, of Valentine Road, Newton-le-Willows, admitted going to the site to covertly photograph the goshawk nest.
Three unhatched eggs were found later in the nest, prosecutor Peter Humphrey Jones told Llandudno magistrates.
It was `virtually certain' a disturbance had taken place, he said.
"In this case, the defendant's action caused the goshawk to leave the nest permanently," said Mr Humphrey Jones.
He said this led to the failure of the clutch.
"The defendants have an obsession with ornithology, an obsession which has previously caused them to disregard the wildlife legislation," said Mr Humphrey Jones.
In 2003 Latham was jailed for three months after 14 kingfisher eggs and 260 other eggs were found at his home.
In 1997 Kinsley was convicted of disturbing a peregrine falcon. In 2001 a case of intentionally disturbing a golden eagle was declared `not proven' by a Scottish court.
But in 2003 he and Latham were back in court in Scotland and were both fined, said Mr Humphrey Jones. The case involved a red-throated diver.
Last May the two men were arrested after police, probing unrelated thefts from a sailing club at the Brenig reservoir, came across Latham in a car.
Later the same day a police wildlife sergeant saw the pair in the vicinity of the nest, Mr Humphrey Jones added.
Both men denied intentionally disturbing the bird and having items to commit a wildlife offence.
Kinsley admitted recklessly disturbing the bird, but on a basis not accepted by the prosecution.
Latham denied reckless disturbance.