Sometimes kids can look at you and you just know their thinking "Stop talking shit dad" . There comes that point in all kids lives when they stop believing in fairy tales; the Tooth fairy and Santa Claus go the same way as innocence is lost. Sometimes it's hard for kids to sort through what their elders tell them and pick out the truths.
I kind of got the impression the kids thought it was one of my tall stories last night when I mentioned that not one but two near mythical Northumberland birds had been seen about 3.5 miles away as the crow flies. I overheard some conversation later
Child 1: "Yeah right if he thinks we're gonna fall for that old chestnut he's thicker than we thought"
Child 2: "Dead right, Haw haw haw, silly old twat"
Child 1: " Just how old does he think we are, everybody knows you have to be a jammy git like that, what's his name? Boombox Birder to get a sniff of Hawfinch these days."
Hawfinch has become a tough bird to see in Northumberland over the last 20 years, never easy any remnant population seems to have almost fallen away completely, with Birds in Northumbria 2009 showing just two records in the whole year and the year before not that much better with just six records.
As we walked along the Hawthorn lined footpath in the fading afternoon sun I could still hear the odd snigger from the kids, I saw the looks they gave each other earlier in the day when 'Lucky' Uncle Andy talked about a flock of 44, 'back in the days...'
After a half hour with two foraging Jays they were restless, calling to go back to the car, chiding me for leading them on a wild goose chase. Suddenly a shadow was cast over the land, we all looked up as a finch the size of a fist, circled overhead, wing tips like an eagle the sound of its wing beats echoing across the low fields. They cowered, open mouthed at the sheer size of the bill 'big enough to break a man's arm' and then finally they laughed, long and loud, as they realised that they had clawed back another tick on Dad. Hawfinch a year tick for me, a dragon slain for a three year old.