Here’s a challenge for the celebrities at Gwrych Castle. Get from Arctic Canada to North Wales, using nothing but your own energy and limbs. You’re allowed to rest en route, but you must do the last leg from Iceland without stopping. When you arrive, you deserve a good kip. But you must sleep standing in a pool of water that is just a few degrees above freezing. Your bushtucker trial is to find enough worms, seaweed flies and molluscs every day to survive for the next four months. Then make the journey in reverse.
Who is King of the (Sand) Castle now…? A Purple Sandpiper, I’d say, though they prefer rocky coasts to sandy beaches. Four of these little waders are at Rhos Point, retaining a few of the shiny feathers that provide their name.
Other Arctic arrivals include Whooper Swans, at Beddmanarch Bay and over Llandudno, and Snow Buntings: five at Holyhead breakwater, two at Point of Ayr and two at Kinmel Bay. A single Snow Bunting at Llandudno’s West Shore was replaced on Saturday by a Lapland Bunting. A skein of Pink-footed Geese flew over the Little Orme on Monday, while Greenland White-fronted Geese are benefiting from extra legal protection since the Welsh Government banned hunting of these rare visitors this year. A flock of 18 was at RSPB Cors Ddyga, two near Pentraeth and two flew over the Great Orme.
Anglesey’s Inland Sea hosts a Long-tailed Duck, four Great Northern Divers, seven Scaup and a Slavonian Grebe, while a couple of Velvet Scoters are among a huge flock of Common Scoters off Old Colwyn. Raptors hunting for food in the limited daylight hours include Short-eared Owls at Amlwch, Conwy golf course and at RSPB Cors Ddyga, where a Merlin and a Hen Harrier were also seen over the weekend.