Jeffrey the Seagull went to the beach to look for shells and lugworms in the bright sunshine. There were always many in this area.
To find them, however, you needed good eyes, some skill and a lot of experience. In addition to lugworms, the Wadden Sea also had small and large crabs, shrimp, as well as various fish and types of mussels.
The best places to look were in the damp mudflats or the tideway when the tide was low and these creatures were waiting for the next tide to wash them back into the sea.
Once he had found some mussels, Jeffrey flew around to find a suitable spot to crack them open and eat them with relish. Perhaps he would also spot a lugworm or two.
Jeffrey headed for a high wooden post that was very close to the sandbank. Here he rested as the fresh North Sea wind brushed his strong plumage.
From his perch, he watched with amusement as a small group of people seemed to be getting a very detailed explanation of how to find a lugworm. They were probably being told that there was nothing to fear from the curled piles on the mudflats.
Jeffrey had often seen tourists walking in zigzag lines through the mudflats because they didn’t want to step on them.
“Completely harmless!” thought Jeffrey. “It’s just digested sand.”
Amused, he continued to watch as one of the people, presumably the mudflat guide, poked around in the bottom of the mudflat with a long stick and then try to fish out a crab in the tidewater.
“Works for me!” thought Jeffrey.
This way he could watch as the tourists lured out his next meal. Once the people were gone, all Jeffrey had to do was pick it up.
As the group moved toward the beach, Jeffrey’s gaze roamed from the shell bank across the entire area to the horizon. He could already hear the rushing tide making its way further and further down the beach.
He was surprised to see that a small group of children was still quite far out. They were apparently busy building substantial sand castles. Jeffrey noticed that a lot of tidewater was already flowing through.
“Where are the parents of the busy builders?” he wondered. But he couldn’t see any adults anywhere. He cracked a tightly closed shell, gobbled it up faster than he had planned to, and flew off.
He wanted to take a closer look at how far the tide had really progressed and how long it would take for the water to reach the children.
Someone who didn’t know the area would most likely misjudge the situation. The water could look shallow with very gentle waves but it was treacherous not to be able to judge this danger correctly.
Jeffrey could see now that there wasn’t much time. After all, the kids would have to walk a fair distance before they were back to safety!
Jeffrey flapped his wings vigorously and soared elegantly through the blue sky until he arrived at the children. At first he tried to circle the group, drawing attention to himself with his screech.
The children, however, were not impressed and continued to build undisturbed. So Jeffrey made a second attempt. He flew at full speed and dived towards one of the castles.
He just managed to lift his body at the last second and take off again towards the sky. One of the children shouted, “Hey what was that? That’s our castle!” Another child hid as Jeffrey was already on his second approach.
“At least I got their attention!” he thought to himself. Now on the second flight maneuver, even the children realized that Jeffrey was trying to tell them something.
“What’s wrong with this seagull?” said one of the older kids. “We don’t have anything for you to eat here!”
Jeffrey decided to make a final attempt. He was sure that the children would watch him now so he flew from the sand castle to the ever-approaching tide. There he landed in the cool water, spinning and making as many eddies as possible, and then flew back to the children, drenched.
If Jeffrey could talk to them, he would have said something like, “Don’t you see how close the water has already come?”
The children, however, found the spectacle quite entertaining and were apparently also no longer worried that he might take another nosedive at one of their castles.
Now there was only one thing left to do. He landed right next to the children. He would never usually get this close to people voluntarily. But if he wanted to help them he had no choice.
He quickly grabbed one of the children’s sand shovels and flew off.
He didn’t know who the parents were or in which of the countless beach chairs they might be sitting.
Besides, Jeffrey wasn’t at all sure that the parents would understand his message, since they didn’t seem to know much about tides. Instead, Jeffrey flew to the rescue station.
Here, everyone knew the rules of nature and the danger of the tides. When he arrived, he realized why no one had spotted the castle-building kids yet. A huge frozen foods delivery truck that was bringing ice cream to the kiosk blocked the view.
Jeffrey slammed the red plastic scoop against the front window of the hut. It was loud enough that the two lifeguards in charge immediately ran outside.
“The seagulls are getting weirder and weirder,” one said.
But now Jeffrey made a few turns in the air and flew off again with the scoop. The lifeguards’ curiosity was piqued. They took their binoculars and followed him.
When they came around the delivery truck and saw the children, they blew their whistles and began running.
Exhausted, Jeffrey dropped the red shovel back near the children. From a distance, he saw a crowd of adults running in their direction.
Among them were parents gesticulating wildly and shouting to their children from a distance. When they were only a few feet away, Jeffrey decided to take off. The children were safe now!
The two people from the rescue station were still pointing at the seagull in the sky as Jeffrey disappeared among the clouds.
“Just in time!” he thought as he finally returned to searching for lugworms.