The Swallows, Amazons and Ds are all on a sailing cruise with Captain Flint in the Outer Hebrides. While the older members of the party clean the boat before returning her to the owner, the younger ones explore inland and a mysterious bird is seen nesting on an island in a loch. The question arises whether it is a Great Northern Diver which has never been known to nest in the British Isles. An expert they consult turns out to be a deadly enemy for the birds and the rest of the book describes how they try to protect the birds while gathering evidence of their nesting. Complicating the matter is a misunderstanding with the local Scottish inhabitants who are mostly Gaelic speaking.
As the plot involves more excitement than usual, with an egg-collector attempting to shoot the rare bird of the title, some have classified this book as one of the metafictional stories in the series: a fantasy tale made up by the children themselves.
You either are a Swallows' and Amazons' fan, eagerly awaiting every new book by Arthur Ransome, or you aren't. I happen to qualify, so perhaps I am prejudiced. Anyhow, here's another book about a seafaring holiday in the Hebrides, with Dick, least aggressive of the crowd, as central figure, in his role as Naturalist. The usual nautical adventure, so accurately termed that even the most critical can find no fault; some shore excitement, as the youngsters run afoul of the natives, and are accused of disturbing the game; and finally, the story culminates in an exciting pitting of wits against an unscrupulous egg-collector, determined to raid the nest of the Great Northern Diver, which Dick has spotted. Lively story for children who like boats- and the personalities of the boys and girls cruising with Uncle Jim are familiar to faithful followers. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Swallows and Amazons Ser.
For Ages: 9 - 12 years old
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 24th June 1982
Dimensions (cm): 20.0 x 13.9 x 3.3
Weight (kg): 0.48