Environment : Notes about your surroundings.

NEW YEAR'S COUNTDOWN: The county's bird watchers will be out in force today for the National Audubon Society's coastal bird count. The inland areas of the county were surveyed Dec. 27.

Today's count "should be excellent for the number of species," said biologist Loren Hays, a veteran of the annual survey. Barring a repeat of last year's poor weather, Hays predicted a count of about 200 different species, which would make it one of the highest ever. That's partly because this season has seen an occurrence known as an "irruption," a local invasion of species that normally range in the mountains.

Results of the marathon birding session will be published in American Birds, a quarterly journal published by the National Audubon Society.

EVENTS: A naturalist-led all-day trip to Catalina will be offered Jan. 10 as a fund-raiser for the county chapter of the American Cetacean Society. The boat's regular passengers will disembark upon arrival at Avalon, and society passengers will continue on to explore the far side of the island. The trip will last from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; fares are $22 for adults and $11 for children. Information: (714) 675-9881.

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