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The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World

Chris Merkord
  • Vernon R. L. Head Jacana Media 2014 http://www.jacana.co.za/component/virtuemart/the-search-for-the-rarest-bird-in-the-world-detail

    Size (mm): 205x130mm

    Pages: 244pp

    Colour: Black and White

    English , Afrotropic, , Ethiopia, , Nightjars (Caprimulgidae), 09/01/2014 1431410926 9781431410927 No value No value

Part detective trail, part love affair and pure story telling at its best.


In 1990 an expedition of Cambridge scientists arrived at the Plains of Nechisar, tucked between the hills of the Great Rift Valley in the Gamo Gofa province in the country of Ethiopia. On that expedition, 315 species of birds were seen; 61 species of mammal and 69 species of butterfly were identified; 20 species of dragonflies and damselflies; 17 reptile species were recorded; three frog species were filed; plants were listed. And the wing of a road-killed bird was packed into a brown paper bag.


It was to become the most famous wing in the world.


When the specimens finally arrived at the British Natural History Museum in Tring it set the world of science aflutter. It seemed that the wing was unique, but they questioned, can you name a species for the first time based only on the description of a wing, based on just one wing?


After much to and fro, confirmation was unanimous, and the new species was announced, Nechisar Nightjar, Caprimulgus solala, (solus:only and ala:wing).


And birdwatchers like Vernon began to dream.


Twenty-two years later an expedition of four led by Ian Sinclair set off to try to find this rarest bird in the world.


Vernon R.L. Head captivates and enchants as he tells of the adventures of Ian, Dennis, Gerry and himself as they navigate the wilderness of the plains, searching by spotlight for the elusive Nechisar Nightjar.

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