The Rarest Bird in the World: The Search for the Nechisar Nightjar

Vernon R.L. Head. Pegasus, $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-60598-963-1
More than 20 years after a group of scientists from Cambridge University discovered “a small, solitary wing” of a rare bird in Ethiopia, Head, a South African architect and conservationist, ventures there hoping to learn more. In this solid, if sentimental, volume, he charts his journey and enduring interest in ornithology. Writing of the original expedition, Head notes that the “scientists were modern in their approach to Nechisar and nature,” but their motivations remained decidedly old-fashioned in their desire to “seek out and catalogue life.” According to Head, the explorers were “aesthetes and poets infused with naivety; dreamers but also doers.” Traveling with three others, Head sets out to follow in their footsteps and is stunned by the scenery and the creatures he encounters. “Ethiopia smiles and cries at once,” he writes, “lush in some places and stark in others.” Head’s language is laudatory, his tone elegiac. Recalling his foray into Nechisar National Park, where “unusual trees poked up out of the plain like party-favours,” Head is reminded of time spent as a child on his grandfather’s Johannesburg farm, where he developed an interest in bird-watching. Head’s search for an elusive bird opens up his past and reveals a contagious curiosity and passion about nature. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-68177-106-9
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-68177-347-6
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