Sharpie! and other Vollmer Peak Birds

Jim Chiropolos

I was watching a flock of sparrows feed on the ground, when suddenly, a small bolt zoomed by me, hugging the ground, flying a foot above the ground. A Sharpie! About four feet before the sparrows, the accipiter fanned its wings and tail, braking, hard - seeming to select a sparrow! It twisted in midair flying a tight figure eight as the sparrows scattered. Then the sharpie was gone. It all happened in two seconds or less.

What amazing predators Sharpies are! I would guess the sharpie flew in undetected at 20 to 25 miles per hour or so. The speed, using ground cover, the quick braking and turning agility, wow! Even with surprise, this time the sharpie did not get a bird so it’s also amazing how good sparrows are at escaping! After it happened, for about five minuetso or so, the yard was filled with an uneven chatter, so unlike the normal chirping of feeding or congregating birds. It almost seemed like a nervous chatter, like people would laugh after a near death experience.

Other bird sightings around Vollmer peak (Tilden) - A Merlin in the top of a redwood this morning. Pine Siskins feeding on the small redwood cones (Is that the right word) at the crowns of redwoods at the steam powered train parking - I have never seen that before. And a Rock Wren in Siesta Valley just below Vollmer, a rare Berkeley Hills sighting. This is the second time I have seen one in this location - near a rock garden but both times feeding in the stumps of giant eucalyptus. A stump must be better than the rocks, with more crevices to hold insects and that they can pry insects out of for a meal.
Good birding!

Jim Chiropolos
Orinda, below Vollmer peak