I used to have a colleague at work that everyone called the phantom. You knew he was there but no one ever saw him. He'd book on at the start of a shift and book off at the end but in between no one would see or hear from him. Short eared Owls leave me feeling the same way. Thats not to say i've never seen them, I have, but i've spent more time looking at empty sky than anything else.
Aust Warth on the Severn Estuary is a well known spotting site. I've seen them there twice. I have also spent at least twice as many times freezing my bits off waiting and waiting for them not to show. They have been reported as being seen at all times of the day, early morning to last light.
A trip today to Bleanavon in the Welsh Hills to see them was planned. Dave Slater and I set off full of hope. On our arrival there were other birders, always a promising sign, there was sunlight, relative calmness, and an air of expectancy equal to that when England play a semi final in the world cup that today was going to be the day. But you guessed it, nothing!! Four buzzards, a few Raven but not a sighting of the elusive birdie phantom. Here's a picture of a Pied Wagtail taken on my last trip to Aust.