California Odes

The Colorado River forms the southeastern boundary of California, separating it from Arizona (in the photo above, California is left bank, Arizona is right bank). Much of the wonderful riparian habitat along the river is now gone, but there are many sites for odes. Some locales, such as Palo Verde County Park in Imperial County (right), are right on the edge of the river itself. One checks the little inlets and eddies for dragonflies.

Several southern California specialties are best found here. Perhaps the most important is Double-striped Bluet (male below, 28 May 2007 at Palo Verde Co. Park). This is a tiny one-inch long bluet (so the photo is about 9X life-size) that is a recent colonist at the River. It has since spread to the Imperial Valley in small numbers, but only on the Colorado is one confident that it can be found.

The best known locales for odes are just a short distance back from the river itself, near Imperial and Laguna Dams, on the California side of the river near Yuma, Arizona. Among these spots are West Pond (left), Senator Wash Reservoir, Squaw Lake, and adjacent wetlands.

Citrine Forktail (male below left; photo from West Pond 13Oct 2007) is another important southeast California ode found primarily at or near the river. Blue-ringed Dancer (male below right) is a widespread and common damsel here and in the Imperial Valley.

One alluring point about the Colorado River is the potential to discover rare vagrant odes to California, and even potential first State Records. So far, October has been the best time for this. In Oct 2006, those attending "Ode Blitz II" found Striped Saddlebags Tramea calverti at West Pond — a California first — and two more were present a few days later. The next week David Blue, chasing (and missing) the saddlebags, found the State's first Plateau Dragonlet Erythrodiplax basifusca nearby.

Tim Manolis, Rita, and I decided to give West Pond & vicinity a try in Oct 2007. During our visit on 13 Oct, we also discovered a Striped Saddlebags (male, right)! The full story and photos about that find are on a separate web page.

Even if you don't find a rarity, the Colorado River odonate fauna is diverse and impressive. Even in mid-October we found 22 species during a 4–5 hour visit to a few spots. For someone who rarely gets to the desert, seeing the pretty and very tiny wasp-mimic Mexican Amberwing (above) is always entertaining. Although this southern species can be found nearer the coast in San Diego County, it seems in much higher numbers out here on the river.

Male (above left) 13 Oct 2007 at "Squaw Pond" near Squaw Lake, IMP
Female (above right) 28 May 2007 at Davis Lake, south of Palo Verde Co. Park, IMP
all photos © 2007 Don Roberson