I should have known better. The forecast had been bad all week and showed no signs of improving as Saturday approached. Perhaps the warm sunshine on the Friday was too bewitching and I couldn't bring myself to cancel the tour planned for the next morning. I had told my wife I was minded to cancel, but when I looked yet again at weather forecast websites that Friday afternoon I persuaded myself that the predicted overnight rain would pass over, leaving Beadnell Bay dry by mid morning. I was wrong. Heavy rain arrived at home in the early hours and at 6am it was raining heavily. Yet by 7.30 it seem to have abated and I phoned a customer to confirm the tour was going ahead. In the car at 8.30 and heading north for the 9am rendezvous - driving into rain. Not just any rain at that, but the fine spray or 'mizzle' that soaks you within minutes and prevents you from using binoculars. It is useless weather for birdwatching unless you are sitting inside a hide, and there were no hides on our planned tour.

My 5 customers were waiting in the car park and the rain had stopped. We were ready to start. However, rain clouds loomed large in the direction we needed to walk, so I suggested we could drive instead in the opposite direction to view a coastal pond 4 miles away just north of Seahouses. Good move. A few minutes of respite watching various ducks in eclipse plumage and spending time looking more intently at a Black-tailed Godwit in summer plumage. The rain arrived and we departed, into Seahouses for a coffee in the hope that we could sit it out. Trotters bakery did good trade from us, but eventually it was surely time to venture back outdoors and restart the tour. Back by 10.30 in Beadnell beach car park with its entrance by now well flooded. The clouds looked threatening as before, but it wasn't raining and we set off, walking south through the caravan park on route to the tern colony. All too soon! Within 5 minutes it was raining steadily once more. We stopped and tried to take shelter to no avail in the lee of a caravan. "It's hopeless" I said and no-one disagreed. We returned to our cars and I returned money, we said our goodbyes and drove away ... 2 hours after first meeting. By the time I got home 20 miles further south the rain had stopped and the rest of the day stayed dry. But I should have known better!

Mark Winter

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