It's Christmas Eve, and the hills are alive with the sound of gunshots.
Having one very gun-shy dog, who turns round and flattens herself at the faintest bang, it's hard to find anywhere she's happy to walk at this time of year. Perhaps I should buy her a pair of ear defenders.
My husband suggests the coast, so we head for Port Argelès for a bracing walk along the Prom in the southerly gale.
Bizarrely there's hardly any wind here. The sea is calm. Both Prom and beach are deserted; not even the fishermen are out.
My eyes are always drawn to the sea when we come here but I don't expect to spot anything. Perhaps a great black backed gull or two; maybe a tern, if I'm lucky.
Today, however, something different does catch my eye. Several somethings, in fact, flying low over the sea, not far off-shore. I have no binos with me but these look big, white, longer necked than gulls, and - I stand still and squint - black tips to their wings. Can it be? I single one out and follow it as it gains height, then turns and dives, wings folded back, into the sea. Another follows. And several more, piercing the water like arrows.
The last time I saw gannets must have been thirty years ago in Northumberland. I'm reminded of the Farne Islands there and, further north, Bass Rock. Never knew they were around here, or came so close to shore. Perhaps the weather has driven them here - or they're simply following a shoal of fish.
There must be forty or fifty of them, strung out along the shoreline as we continue down the Prom. It's quite a spectacle. Handsome, impressive birds. One of the most striking things I remember about them when seen on land, close-up, is their blue-veined feet!
It's a Christmas treat that warms me like a shot of brandy, & I have my gun-shy dog to thank for it.