Colonization of a recreated area of intertidal land by marine invertebrates and their bird predators was studied from April 1993 to August 1997. The most important food of large shorebirds, the ragworm Nereis diversicolor, did not reappear until late summer 1995 and did not become abundant until the following autumn. Annual attempts at colonization by the crustacean Corophium volutator, the main food of several small shorebird species, failed until summer 1996 when animals survived through the subsequent winter for the first time. Colonization by the mud-snail Hydrobia ulvae took place a year after flooding of the site, but densities in 1997 were still well below those found elsewhere on the adjacent estuary.The delay in successful colonization by Nereis and Corophium may be attributable in part to the compaction of the intertidal muds caused by the earthmoving equipment used to contour the site. The slow increase in Hydrobia density may be a consequence of low organic content of the mud. Bird use is concentrated chiefly during the hours when the adjacent estuarine mudflats (with unrestricted tidal flow) are covered by the tide, since the new site then provides a supplementary feeding area. Peak daytime usage occurs during the migratory passage periods when birds need to feed for longer periods than usual, in order to refuel for their migrations; high usage is also anticipated in cold winters.On this evidence, creation of intertidal areas in mitigation for any lost nearby to industrial or other development should take place at least three years before the losses, in order to make the new areas profitable for feeding waterfowl.