Part detective story, part love affair, and pure adventure storytelling at its best, a celebration of the thrill of exploration and the lure of wild places during the search for the elusive Nechisar Nightjar.
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 they found three hundred and fifteen species of birds; sixty one species of mammal and sixty nine species of butterfly were identified; twenty species of dragonflies and damselflies; seventeen 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, (only 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.
But The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World is more than a boy's own adventure in search of the rarest bird in the world. It is a meditation on nature, on ways of seeing, on the naming of things and why we feel so compelled to label. It is a story of friendships and camaraderie. But most of all it embraces and enfolds one into the curious and eye-opening world of the birdwatcher. For birdwatchers, twitchers, bird lovers, and about-to-become birdwatchers everywhere. For those who enjoy the natural world, the outdoors, the untamed places. Reminiscent of Nathaniel's Nutmeg and Longitude, this true story of incredible adventure will bring out the explorer in everyone who reads it.