The wrong Mallards.

Distance is of course entirely relative; Australia is quite a long way away, and it seems to take ages to get to Cornwall (personally I think it gets further away each year), while the walk down to Nels has always been a killer.
But this morning I encountered genuine interplanetary distance, after picking up Neill, Tony Owen and Skipper Rothwell and whizzing up the M6 to Leighton Moss for the Black Headed Wagtail.
The bird was “showing” as soon as I pulled up by the Eric Morecambe Hide car park at about 8am – but it was miles away as we ‘scoped it.
I think the White Tailed Plover at Caerlaverock may even have been closer on that marvellous Tower of Babel evening years back…
The situation was made worse by the fact that the bird looked absolutely stonking through the ‘scope – jet black head, canary yellow throat and underparts and lovely olivey uppers.
Best. Wagtail. Ever.

It was raw cold and the Cetti’s Warblers were laughing at us from the ditches as we tried everything from prayer to ESP to get it to fly closer, but to no avail.
I’ve seen one on muckheaps in Israel back when, but I wanted better views than this.
Once the chill had us shaking uncontrollably and we’d filled 20 SIM cards with blurry pics of vast savannahs of spring grass with the occasional yellow dot (using dozing Mallards a mile away as a focus point was okay – assuming you were on the right dozing Mallards), we decided enough was enough.
We drove round to the railway crossing – luckily the pipits and wagtails in the field were getting flighty and the Black Headed Wagtail dropped in pretty close, affording us gorgeous ‘scope views as it scampered about, but it was way beyond my photographic abilities as these images ably attest.

If anyone wants to order prints for above the fireplace – you know who to call…
After the close encounter of the extreme range kind, we motored back south, calling in for a brief but delightful audience with the Wood Warbler that was found by Andy Pryce this morning at Marshside.
Small parties of Siskins were moving overhead and Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were doing the business as we watched the sherbet-throated stunner as it zipped about the mercifully bare branches.
They are usually a lot harder to watch than this, melting into the green leaves of spring that are so late unfurling this year.

Biggest whitest undercrackers of any of our warblers.
It only trilled the once while we were there, but it was a class act all the same.