Reading progress update: I've read 295 out of 400 pages.

The Seabird’s Cry - Adam Nicolson, Adam Nicolson

The last great auk on St Kilda "made a great noise shutting its mouth", the St Kildan Lachlan McKinnon remembered as an old man in the 1860s. It had been killed forty years before. [spoiler tags because of descriptions of how the great auk was killed]

Its cry, McKinnon said, was "like that made by gannet but much louder". He and his two friends grabbed it on one of the St Kilda stacks. It was fast asleep. But once they had caught it, "a storm arose and that fact together with the great size of the bird and the noise it made with its bill caused them to think it must be a witch ... It was killed on the third day after it was caught and they were beating the bird for an hour with two large staffs before it was quite dead."

(show spoiler)

That was probably the last British great auk.

 

Reading this chapter was not easy. I have a soft spot for auks, and the story of the great auk just breaks me every time I read about it. 

 

Nicolson is passionate about seabirds and I love his comments on how destructive mankind has been to the natural world. But damn that chapter was difficult.