At dawn, the tide is out and the birds are dispersed across the wide mudflats that stretch north from Shellness past Leysdown-on-Sea to Warden Point. This is some 5 square kilometres of sands filled with worms and molluscs. There are perhaps a 1,000 birds out there; mostly black-headed gulls, oystercatchers and black-tailed godwits with smaller numbers of curlews and a single whimbrel. A noisy flock of some 200-300 sandwich terns gathers on the tideline and periodically lifts up and shifts position; a few ringed plovers and turnstones inconspicuously work the upper shores. A pair of half-buried, bait diggers excavate the mud with spades.
As the tide rises, the flats are rapidly covered and the waders move in small flocks down the shoreline to gather on the mud and mussel beds next to Shellness and then to roost on the ness itself. Many of the waders are in primary mount with an obvious gap in the their flight feathers. The bait diggers walk up the beach with the warm sun on their backs carrying their haul.
Other birds include a pair of great black-backed gulls with a single well grown young in tow; they come over to shout and intimidate. Kestrels are present in good numbers and hover in the strong west wind.