Thursday's Guardian Country Diary is about a sudden change in the weather in Tynemouth.
We were visiting for a walk along the north bank of the river Tyne to North Shields, destination the Waterfront for their outstanding fish and chips, with the added incentive of a bit of botanising on the way. The headland at Tynemouth is a popular place for birders - and it also has some interesting plants, including this....
........... black horehound Ballota nigra
....... some very attractive field bindweed Convolvulus arvensis
...... and restharrow Ononis repens
This kestrel, looking a little worse-for-wear with missing wing and tail feathers, was hovering above us on the slopes of the headland below Tynemouth Priory. As we watched it there was an incredibly sudden change in the weather, as the wind direction shifted and a sea fret blew inshore, blanketing the mouth of the Tyne, the headland and the kestrel in fog that reduced visibility to just a few metres, where just a minute or two before we had been in bright sunshine. Even kestrels can't hunt in such conditions.
I grew up on the coast and spent much of my youth messing about in boats, so I was well aware of how fast conditions can change on the coast but this sudden fog was astonishing.
We'd watched the Tyne Pilot head out of the river in bright sunshine to meet an incoming vessel, the ferry City of Barcelona, but she had disappeared into the fog. We could hear her engines and foghorn as she ghosted past us and then, about fifteen minutes after the fog closed in ....
...... the wind direction changed and visibility improved, so the ferry loomed up out of the fog just as she approached North Shields fish quay. Within another five minutes the sea fret had blown away, dazzling sunshine returned and the kestrel was hunting again.