January is the coldest month of the year, and also has the lowest MUF's. This combined with the low solar activity leaves us with little remaining activity on 15 Meters. East/west paths are open, so Africa is still workable. Few signals are coming thru from Europe, and we have reached a stage where Europe is more easily worked on 80 than on 15. 20 Meters is not in good shape, and most activity is along the greyline paths in the morning and evening.
This is turning into a great year for lowband work. Most of the attention is focused on 80 & 75, even to the extent that activity is down on 40. 40 is certainly in excellent shape, its just that on 80 one can have a competitive signal with a few tall trees and wire antennas. On 40, a tower and beam is more of a necessity to get the most out of the band. Most of the lowband activity is in the evening, and we no longer have to wait up for the EU sunrise peak which occurs after midnight.
80 (CW) is a crowded band in Europe, but much of the activity is local. The louder EU stations are able to work quantities of W/VE stations because we mostly run QRO here. Stateside ops are mostly tuning the band looking for DX to work, rather than CQing and running. This is probably because most of us are alligators that can only work what we can hear. The band doesn't sound crowded here, except on the frequencies of DX stations where there are pileups. The same is mostly true on 160: the EU stations do most of the running. Yes this is a good year for 160 (even I can hear the louder Europeans on my noisy delta loop).
As I write this, the S. Georgia expedition is on. This invites comparison with the Peter Island operation of a year ago. The most noticeable difference is that signals are weaker, and this suggests they are less well equipped with antennas and amps. Most of the activity has been on 40 and 80, with no spots on 15 thus far. Perhaps 15 isn't opening at all down there. Signals have been good on 30 Meters. Most activity has been on CW, where this country is especially needed.