Meeting the wing

Last week we travelled to Great Britain. Our goal was to meet THE wing and one of its’ discoverers.

On our first day we went to BirdLife Internationals’ headquarters near Cambridge. There we met Roger Safford, one of the team members that had found this strange looking nightjar-wing in 1990 at Nechisar National Park. He gave us an elaborate description of his experiences in the park, how it was 25 years ago, and in what circumstances they had found the wing. Hearing his stories and watching some of his pictures of Nechisar just made us daydream.


After some struggling with driving on the opposite side of the road (who invented that?) we arrived at Tring Natural History Museum. We signed-up at the entrance of the bird-collection-department and were taken to the floor where African nightjars were stored. It was really breathtaking to see, experience (and smell) hundreds of years of bird-collections. Maybe it’s strange to depict it this way, but you could really feel how important these collections are for science, and our current knowledge on biodiversity, evolution and so on. And although all collections they are safely stored in big fridge-like boxes, it was an impressive sight.

Suddenly, a small box appeared. It was the wing we were looking for. I must admit I was a bit conspicuous about the Nechisar wing being a new species at first . But after handling it, it became clear to me that this wing resembles no other and we have to find the body that goes with it! 


We filled the next two days studying Ethiopian nightjars, and left Great-Britain holding a Nechisar National Park -treasure map containing a big X. On our way home we kept on discussing how the Nechisar nightjar might look like, and how we could find it. It is a real privilege to go on this daring quest. As nightjar-researchers it is a dream to search for the one wing that rules them all.