| For the last in the series (sadly so -- and published the year i was born, by a coincidence), Ransome has given us a somewhat different book.
As with "We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea" and unlike most of the rest, virtually all of the action in this book involves real-world situations and problem-solving rather than the often-imaginary (though no-less-fun) adventures that the other books recount.
The plot turns at least partly on the contrast and conflict between the methods used by older-style "naturalists" -- Audobon often shot the birds he painted -- represented by the bird expert on the yacht "Pterodactyl", whose reaction to hearing of a very rare nesting is to find it, take the eggs, shoot the birds and stuff them as a display in a museumand those of the newer generation, represented by Dick Callum (in his strongest, most assertive appearance in the series).
Dick is of the opinion that simple but clear photographs will do Just Fine to document this amazing sighting.
And so begins an adventure that will have three separate problems to solve -- keeping the Egg Collector from finding the birds, getting the photos and -- most importantly -- not running afoul of the local Laird on whose land all of this is going on.
All of the Swallows, Amazons and D's -- and Captain Flint, a full participant for once, rather than just a prop/supporting character -- are here, and all are in full character -- when someone sees Dick fleeing the Egg Collector's yacht after he realises what sort of "naturalist" the man is, they remark "If it were Roger, I'd think he'd said something cheeky," to which Roger replies "Dick would never think of anything in time..."
If it had to be the last, this is a pretty good book for the position.
Read it; read them all. Even adults can enjoy these books.
(The cover shown above is from the 1971 Puffin (U.K.) paperback edition; i couldn't find covershots of the current edition)