The Water Rail dwells in reed beds, making it elusive at the best of times. Unlike the (perhaps a little similar) Moorhen or Coot, it generally eschews human beings, making it a hard to find bird unless you know the right spots.
One such spot is at a local nature reserve in Coleshill. Having not caught up with a single Water Rail for more than 18 months, I finally found this 'bogey' bird there last weekend. Not as hard as it sounds, mind you, because this bold bird is rather partial to feeding off scraps beneath a bird table.
Perhaps not as satisfying as watching one creep tentatively out of the reeds, but after so long without one, beggars really can't be choosers.