Is it Ashy-headed or perhaps Spanish?

Things have been generally quiet for me on the birding front this week. I've visited Rishton Reservoir on a couple of occasions but there has not been anything spectacular or even mildly interesting for a while. A walk alongside the River Hyndburn did produce a Kingfisher last weekend and there have been plenty of finches visiting the feeders of course.

Today I called in at Marshside briefly en-route to Ainsdale and Warrington (I know, not what you might call the direct route!) and managed to catch up with a few commoner birds that I hadn't seen this year. It was nice to hear my first Sedge Warbler of the spring. However, things took a turn when I got a message about a Yellow Wagtail on the Ribble near Brockholes that then turned into a message about an Ashy-headed Wagtail. Well I see very few Yellow Wagtails as it is these days so I headed for Brockholes.

After a purposefull hike to the spot where the bird had been last seen, I picked it up straight away with the finder, Carl, the only other person in attendance! I was shocked. Anyhow, I managed to rattle off a couple of blog shots before other started to arrive.


Generally, the bird's head look quite uniformly dark at times but when it posed in the sunlight, the difference between the ear coverts and the crown was distinct. The only white was just behing the eye, though there was a hint of a paler greyish patch on the lores in some poses.  The Supercilium, if you could call it that, was more noticible on the right side and rather indistinct on the left. The features all looked good for Ashy-headed but these birds are notoriously variable and a hybrid between Spanish or Black-headed Wagtail seems to be a possibility. The images seem to enhance the white supercilium that was really quite indistinct in the field and depict the head paler than it seemed at the time.

Anyway, a splendid bird all the same.

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