That's exactly how it felt when I booked a British Airways return flight to Aberdeen with the hope of connecting with the rare American White-winged Scoter. Of course there is an element of risk attached to such things, something that I was fully aware of having heard numerous stories of failed twitches. To me they were merely amusing anecdotes. Now they don't taste quite so sweet.
It was an early start to a Sunday morning. I was still a little jaded after a heavy night out with work colleagues and the plan to head up to Scotland may have been a little misguided given the malaise of the day before.
It was a cool blustery day. On arrival, I picked up a hire car and headed to the wonderful Murcar Links golf course. The greens looked splendid provoking thoughts of maybe taking up this soporific sport which on grass always looks so appealing.
Walking alongside the beautifully manicured fairways, I made my way to the vantage point. It was a calming scene and there were thousands of birds offshore. Common Scoter were most numerous, but it wasn't difficult picking out small groups of Velvet Scoter. It all seemed quite encouraging at first.
The sea was a relative calm, but the clouds looked threatening, indeed, some heavy showers passed through during the course of the day.
I initially lasted an hour and a half, deciding to head over to the Ythan Estuary in search of Elvis, the resident King Eider. Predictably he was nowhere to be seen - evidently having already left the building. There were plenty of Common Eider here, and spirited Grey Seal elegantly bathing around the inlet. The tern colony mainly made up of Arctic Tern with a few Sandwich Tern mixed in made for a raucous backdrop. A nice adult summer Bar-tailed Godwit mooched around the sandy shores, and a Red-throated Diver flew past.
I drove back to Murcur as heavy rain began to fall. I sat in the car and promptly fell asleep for half an hour by which time the sun had reappeared. I made my way back to view out to sea. Watching the Eider, Merganser, and throngs of Scoter were agreeable supporting cast members, but neither of my targets failed to show.
It presented a scenario that I had anticipated - expressed by 'you should have been here yesterday' (where both birds showed all day).
It was hapless, but not altogether wasted as for now, I have an anecdote all to myself.