My passenger is one of the best bird photographers in the country. He’s writing a new book on herons. The pressure is on to find the Great-billed Heron.

One of the honours of operating this little cruise is that it is often used by experts in various fields of nature appreciation. On this occasion my passenger is the author of several books that reside on my bookshelf. Great-billed Herons are a personal favourite and I’m desperate to have images taken on my cruise in his forthcoming book. Over the past year herons have been seen on 90% of cruises…but now they’re missing. Last week we searched unsuccessfully for 3 hours. David was gracious though, gifting me one of his books on waders. Masking the fact that we had not had a successful day, he had very tactfully signed it “with grateful thanks for valiant efforts to find the Great-billed Heron”. Today we are at it again, but have searched again in vain for a further 2 hours. The conditions are poor, the tide is wrong, the rain starts to fall. I’m tired, wet, devastated. I try one last spot and the birding gods finally have mercy. David works quickly, the light not helpful. The conditions preclude terrific images but at least the sentiment in my new book now reads true.

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