Clapper rails (geddit? applaud? clap? I slay myself sometimes) are one of those birds that are a lot more common across America than sightings of them would suggest, much like water rails in Europe I suspect. They have been a bird I'd been after for a while and I was sure they were present in the mangroves fringing my favourite salt pond. Nonetheless I was having no luck and kept seeing Sora (which are much rarer here) instead. All this changed when I finished work early one night and headed over to the pond at sundown. A large Sora with an enormous beak ran cackling into the mangroves upon my arrival. Could it be? Yes. A few more evening trips have proved more successful still and I even managed to catch a couple out in the open (forgive the wide angle - too dark for digiscoping).
I guess I learned a few things from this about the importance of mixing things up and looking at your patch in different ways and at different times. I also learned to trust my instincts a bit more, I was sure the rails were there and that I wasn't seeing them yet (as opposed to there not being any rails). Nonetheless, lessons aside the coolest thing about this experience was the moment of seeing that first rail and thinking gotcha. Even now I'm seeing them more regular, every time I see a long nose poking through the mangrove roots or a barred chest semi-hidden amidst some foliage I still think "gotcha!"
Now all I need to do is catch one in good enough light for a decent photo.