My name is Carol. I live in Northern California not far from the Mendocino Triple Junction, where the San Andreas makes contact with the Cascadia Subduction Zone. In the winter the low level jet stream makes landfall with Cape Mendocino and continues on across the North American continent. During storms the Pacific Ocean hits the cliffs with such force that the land is eroded away. Resistant rock remains in the form of offshore islands called sea stacks.
At this time of year the turkey vultures are beginning to migrate toward the south. They take advantage of the updrafts of warm air to get up to the stronger winds aloft that can carry them great distances. Groups of about 10-12 hold together, circling around while drifting effortlessly out of sight, in a circular grouping called a “kettle”. Often it seems they are circling overhead to say goodbye and some may drop down a little lower to see if they can find a little snack for the journey or maybe rest for a while and catch a ride with the next kettle passing through. Last Monday it was warm and the wind was just right. There were 2 kettles of 10 each that passed overhead within 2 hours. Some hawks also travel in kettles.
While researching the Jet Stream one particularly windy winter, I discovered a website that shows jet stream wind direction at the Meteorology Department at San Francisco State University: squall.sfsu.edu/jetstream dot html. I often use it to find out if the migrating birds will have a favorable tail wind. At the bottom of the page is a Forecast menu that goes 5 days out. Another interesting site is Golden Gate Raptor Observatory’s Daily Hawk Count: ggro.org. It is on the northern side of San Francisco Bay on Hawk Hill. Can you imagine being so close to the turkey vultures overhead that you can hear the wind whistling through their feathers.