At my favourite local beach, early mornings are best, especially in holiday times, before the hordes awake, feed the kids and bring the sun shades and brollies down to claim their sand spaces between the casuarinas and the gentle sea.
A cloudy start to the day will delay them even longer.
It is so gentle because it is protected by two rock breakwalls that separate it from the river mouth on one side and the surf beach on the other.
Beyond the breakwalls it is not gentle, and the whitecaps and breaking waves splash high and surge mightily.
The tide is receding, leaving some sand sculptures intact from the day before. This one is unique in my experience, never having seen tools as sculpture subjects before: a hatchet, an electric drill and a mallet!
Another is more traditional, although not of the moulded sand castles I am used to. This one has a moated settlement of flat-topped roofs… adobe?
A small group of Crested Pigeons bustle down from the trees and grass edge to check out what’s left on the tideline. They are shy of any movement of mine, quickly wheeling and turning away.
This flock of resting seagulls is the opposite, completely ignoring me. They have chosen the ‘banks’ of a long channel no doubt made by kids, right where the tide has reached and stopped.
Some sleep, but most are busy preening and cleaning.
I am fascinated by the balancing acts: here three of the four gulls stand on one leg only. Why?
One leg must give enough stability, as it does not seem to restrict the movements required to perform the morning’s grooming.
Some of the contortions, while seemingly effortless, are amazing to one whose neck could never do this.
To remain so dapper must take a lot of such time. These gulls know early morning is best here too: no people, no dogs, no disturbance.