California Odes
From the perspective of someone who lives outside the Bay Area, and particularly one living south of the Bay Area, there are 3 Bay Area specialties that one "must get" there. [This is not strictly true; see below.]
These are: Swift Forktail Ischnura erratica (right; male 31 Mar 2007 Monte Bello OSP, Santa Clara Co.); San Francisco Forktail Ischnura gemina (below left; male 4 July 2007 Stevens Creek, Santa Clara Co.); and Red-veined Meadowhawk Sympetrum madidum (below right; male 2 June 2007 Monte Bello OSP, Santa Clara Co.).

The range of S.F. Forktail is contracting, and it no longer occurs south of S.F. Bay, as it has been 'swamped out' by interbreeding with Black-fronted Forktail. Swift Forktail and Red-veined Meadowhawk can be found in the coast ranges north of the Bay Area, but sites are less well-known. The meadowhawk is actually found throughout almost all of northern California, but its occurrence is local and erratic. We actually found it in Yolo County, during a lunch stop in 2007, but no where else that year.
The Bay Area has many fine locales for odes. Those that I highlight below are just those that we visited in 2007.
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, along the ridge of the coast range west of Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, has been a regular "home patch" for David Edwards & John Hall, who have reported odes here from mid 2004 on. Details to each spot within this Preserve, and adjacent Skyline Ridge OSP in San Mateo County, are in the CalOdes archives. These sites include a "seep" along a trail through the woods (below left) and an open reed-lined pond (below right). The "seep," and a small shady pool with lily pads just above it, are now a well-known locale for Swift Forktail from late March to June. See my Swift Forktail page for more details. The reedy pond can be very good for variety from April through September. It has a relict population of Northern Spreadwing (a species otherwise restricted to higher montane areas in California), plus Black & Spotted Spreadwings, and is a good locale for Eight-spotted & Red-veined Meadowhawks, in season.
Ft. Point in San Francisco, essentially under the south end of Golden Gate bridge, is both a National Historic Site and a known locale for the rare and local San Francisco Forktail. Full directions are on Kathy Biggs's site. In 2007, we missed it during visits on 8 Apr & 2 June but others found it here in July. Our efforts were hampered by cool, foggy conditions. Other Bay Area sites for San Francisco Forktail include a ditch at the north end of Coyote Point park in San Mateo County (but we missed it here in April), and the shallow, weed-lined Stevens Creek along the La Avenida bikeway in Mountain View, Santa Clara Co., were we found both Black-fronted & San Francisco Forktails on 4 July 2007 (males of both in-hand).
The Marin watershed lakesLakes Lagunitas (shown left), Bon Tempe, and Alpine, west of Fairfax — are popular hiking areas and excellent for odes. A page on our visit on 7 Apr 2007 has many photos & details. The spring visit was for Beaverpond Baskettail & Exclamation Damsel (success!), and we had California Darner and teneral Grappletails.

On the other side of the Bay, east of Fremont in Alameda County, is Sunol Regional Wilderness. Alameda Creek runs through the center of the park, set among oak-clad hills, and the creek has fine stands of sycamores (right) and willows. Our only visit in 2007 was in November, so odes were comparatively few, but California Spreadwing (below) and Walker's Darner were present in fair numbers. In summer this is a site for Bison Snaketail, Grappletail, and other goodies. Reports of visits by Edwards & Hall visits to the park throughout the years are found in CalOdes archives. There is usually an entrance fee.

Just a bit outside the Bay Area is Cold Canyon, Solano Co. Here a rocky creek runs intermittently into Putah Creek, entering just below Monticello Dam at the intersection of Solano/Yolo/Napa counties. A trail climbs along the creek into Stebbins Cold Canyon Ecological Reserve. When the creek is running in autumn, this is a well known site for California & Great Spreadwing, Red Rock Skimmer, and Walker's Darner. See my page on successful Oct 2006 visit. However, 2007 was a very dry year and an attempt on 10 Sep found the creek dry; the only ode was a single Walker's Darner.
There are many other good Bay Area sites. For example, Pt. Reyes and coastal Marin County have several fine spots. I look forward to visiting some of these in the future.
all photos & text © 2007 Don Roberson