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Shorebird-Watching enters its most agreeable season this month, with migrant and resident birds sharing common winter grounds. Egrets, herons, terns, and a variety of other species provide endless entertainment as they go about the business of fishing and feeding in San Diego County's remaining coastal wetlands. Publicly accessible wetlands include the following (listed north to south): San Luis Rey River mouth, Buena Vista Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, San Elijo Lagoon, San Dieguito Lagoon, Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, San Diego River flood channel (south of Sea World Drive), Sweetwater River marsh, southwest San Diego Bay, and Tijuana River Estuary. The same birds can also be seen on the shores of inland reservoirs such as Lake Murray and Lake Miramar.

Earliest Sunset (4:43 p.m. from San Diego) occurs Saturday, December 6, a date that is not coincident with the shortest day (winter solstice -- December 21) because of factors relating to the non-circular shape of the Earth's orbit around the sun and the tilt of Earth's axis. Early December is a good time to view the setting sun from the spectacular vantage point of Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma. During most of the year, you can't do that since sunset occurs well after the park's closing time of 5:15 p.m.

Cross-Country Skiers are in for a short-lived treat this month through February if winter storms intense enough to drop several inches to two feet of snow hit San Diego County's higher mountains. As the clouds are clearing, you may be able to take advantage of good skiing conditions along Highway 79 through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and along Sunrise Highway through the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. More limited opportunities for cross-country skiing may briefly exist on Palomar Mountain. Farther north in Southern California and higher in elevation, the forested crests of the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains offer more dependably decent snow conditions.

Toyon, or "Christmas-berry," one of the more distinctive shrubs of Southern California's native chaparral plant community, is now flaunting clusters of red berries. Here in coastal San Diego, toyon can be found wherever large patches of native vegetation survive, but especially in the thick chaparral covering some north-facing slopes. Toyon branches may look inviting to cut as a Christmas wreath -- but they're protected from picking by California state law.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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