There are days when wildlife-watching just doesn't work. When the wildlife refuses to be watched. Today the omens for a morning in south-west Norfolk were the opposite. I was psyched. It was going to be sunny and crisp. I was on the case of Otters, which had been seen three days running at the same site. And, with some special gen, I was going to break my 22-year duck on Golden Pheasant. Bring it on.
Why then the random picture of a Muscovy Duck (and an abnormally plumaged one at that)? Because the Nature Referee had shown all my target critters the red card, and this awful web-footed creature was as good as this morning got. Shortly after dawn, I dipped Golden Pheasant. A group of Roe Deer and a few Reeve's Muntjac were inadequate compensation. Then I dipped Otter at the 'nailed-on' site. Perhaps I should have been happy with Kingfisher, a few Marsh Tits, a few Bramblings, many squabbling Siskins and a female Brown Hare batting away the attentions of three males, one day prematurely. But I wasn't. Then - despite glorious weather for soaring raptors - I failed to locate any displaying Goshawks at a nearby site. At least I had a back-up site for Otter, thanks to Graham Clarke. But I dipped there as well. Then notched up my fourth dip of this site's long-staying Great Grey Shrike. And failed to find the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker heard earlier in the week. If I hadn't located the pair of Wood Lark I saw ten days ago, in precisely the same spot, the morning would have been an utter waste of time. Even so, that duvet would have been a far better call...