I tried. I really tried, but the cold weather made for slim pickings when it came to spiders and insects. A few gratuitous butterflies and I'm afraid you will have to wait until next month to see what I find. Ah, the anticipation!
On the other hand, there are lots and lots of good winter birds. I made a particular effort to get out frequently this month and participate in an eBird challenge and in iNaturalist challenges. I enjoyed getting out but need to get back to a more relaxed pace.
Highlights captured in pictures:
Local stuff: Black Skimmer's can be so dramatic. Young ones rest completely prone on the sand. I love firsts and this month I saw my first Snowy Plovers - so adorable, Mew Gulls - cute for gulls, Lewis's Woodpecker - lovely subtle colors, Red-breasted Nuthatch - crawling up a tree trunk, and Greater Scaup - so hard to tell apart from the more common Lesser Scaup. I found two East Coast birds that seem to have gotten lost, or just discovered how great Southern California is in the winter. Red-shafted Flickers are common, but Yellow-shafted are usually found on the East Coast. An Eastern Phoebe is not as striking as our common Black Phoebe. Some exotic birds, probably released from the pet trade, are becoming established in our area. They are pretty but one wonders what impact they will have on native species. These were the Japanese White-eye, Yellow Chevroned Parakeet, and Scaley-breasted Munia.
Cambria and San Simeon: A quick trip up the coast is always a delight, even if it is rainy and gloomy. We visited Hearst Castle, ate good food (particularly the yummy cheeses), and drank fine wine. I managed to sneak in some time for a few birds and elephant seals between dining and the rain. The pups are about one week old nursing from their mothers. There were still a number of the males there with their harems. We took a tour of the lighthouse at Pierdas Blancas but I left my camera in the car due to bucketing rain.
Pelagic Birding Trip off Dana Point: Usually I go on whale watching trips and the boat rushes out to see the whales, skimming past wonderful sea birds. This time the tables were turned. We ignored three or four grey whales to pursue ocean going birds. We chummed with popcorn, which attracted a huge following of gulls. Black-vented Shearwaters and California Gulls dominated the day, but we also got some satisfying looks at Pomarine Jaegers, Commone Murre, Rhinocerous Auklet, Northern Fulmar, and Brown Boobies. Count me in the next time!
For those that are on Facebook, I have set up a public page where I post updates during the month. You can LIKE it here: https://www.facebook.com/KimMooreNaturalist. I also send out a monthly email with a link to this blog. Contact me if you would like to added.
Watch the slideshows or click on the links to look through at your own pace.
Enjoy the show!
Local stuff: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/new_jan_2016
Cambria and San Simeon: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/cambria_2016
Pelagic Birding Trip: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/pelagic_trip_jan_2016