They had been so reluctant that I was mildly surprised when I offered up my suggested destination and target that they seemed quite enthusiastic. They were asking lots of questions in the car:
Kids: Where do they live Dad?
Dad: In trees and woods.
Kids: Don't they live in caves?
Dad: Not that I'm aware of...
Kids: Will there be any goats Dad?
Dad: (thinking) Have I missed a Birding World article on the the interdependency of Mealy Redpolls and Goats?
Dad: Er, no I don't think so?
It was an understandable mistake and there was no deliberate attempt to mislead, sadly as far as the kids were concerned the only big, hairy, ugly TROLL when we arrived at Druridge Bay Country Park was me.
That was kind of the way it stayed too, with wave after wave of driving rain we had little opportunity to find any Redpolls and contented ourselves with disgorging the contents of our scraps bag to the obvious pleasure of the gathered gulls and ducks.
Some scoping from the car picked up two Common Buzzard over the north edge as well as several argentatus Herring Gull on the still half-iced lake. A first calendar year bird still appearing to be in complete juvenile plumage has to be argentatus and the suggested origins of these individuals is Northern Russia.
We left as the rain picked up pace. A slow drive back via some coastal field and pools produced little. At another frozen lake (QE2) another pre-christmas crowd of gulls and ducks, the only glimmer of anything worth mentioning was the single 'Pink' Gull that stood out from all around in almost Jordan-esque fashion.