California Odes
Mono & Inyo counties
The third annual Ode Blitz — a gathering of California odites who otherwise communicate through CalOdes — took place during the second weekend of August 2007 in the Owens Valley, east of the Sierra. The photo (above) was taken along the banks of the Owens River itself, a spot reachable only via 4-wheel-drive vehicles (more on that below).
Kathy & Dave Biggs (right) and Doug Aguillard (below, on right; owner of CalOdes) were the founders of this event. Prior efforts have been in the extreme northeast corner of California (Sep 2005) and the extreme southeast corner (Oct 2006). This year's gathering was centered around Bishop, and odeing spots were visited within Inyo & Mono counties during lovely summer days. A dozen folks interested in California dragonflies attended, many from distant locales. David & Linda Blue (below; lefthand pair) came from San Diego.

I arrived from Monterey on the afternoon of 11 August, much too late to make the morning's field trips, or the festivities on Friday. I know that the group visited Hot Springs Creek in Mono County, including the incredible boiling springs adjacent to the creek (right) that recall the scalding pots in Yellowstone Park. By that afternoon the group was exploring remote springs high the mountains, hoping to add new species to the county lists.

The best I could do was limp along in their dust about 6 hours late. By then the breeze had picked up and odes were few, but the scenery was spectacular.

I did manage to find the 'lifer' that I wanted: several Desert Whitetail near Whitmore Hot Springs in Mono County. This one (left) is a young male. Kathy Biggs said that earlier in the week there had been hundreds of this species here.

I also enjoyed close views of Band-winged (Western) Meadowhawk at various sites: this female (below) is from Uhlmeyer Springs, across the Owens River from Big Pine, Inyo Co.

On Sunday morning we started at Klondike Lake, just north of Big Pine. Bob Miller (above left), up from the Imperial Valley, pointed out that tiger beetles were feasting on the abundant Black-fronted Forktails (above right). A little Common Kingsnake was caught as it headed in that same direction. My sole contribution was a River Bluet (below).
The real excitement was when Paul Johnson (below right) led us to the crumbling banks of the Owens River itself. To accomplish this, we packed everyone into the three high-clearance vehicles on hand and wound through a rutted, dusty, unbelievably hopeless track through the sagebrush. How and why Paul ever made it to this spot in the first place remains among the mysteries of life. But Paul had flushed an odd gomphid from the overhanging roots at the river's edge, and so we had to go look for it. And, remarkably, a half-dozen of these beautiful dragons were located (below left).

The dragons would flush from the river-edge and fly out into the sage where, by careful stalking, they could be photographed, although sometimes only by contortionists (right; arrow marks location of the ode). They proved to be Olive Clubtail (below) but engendered much discussion. Yes, Paul's ode had initially been hanging vertically, but why did they all perch horizontally on the sage? Could some of the half-dozen or more gomphids found out here be Great Basin Snaketails? [I didn't photograph anything but three different clubtails — but heard that others had seen the snaketail as well.] And why such as odd habitat? We felt like we knew almost nothing about this cool, blue-eyed species.

Olive Clubtail was a 'lifer' for the majority of those present (including Paul), and was a treat for all. It was not anticipated to be found on the trip, and its range here in the Owens Valley is an isolated relict. In our final shot (left) it has just flown off to the right. Those interested included Paul Johnson (kneeling in center) and (L to R): Dave Biggs, Ron Oriti, Barbara Oriti, Linda Blue, Kathy Biggs, and David Blue.

Ode Blitzers who departed before the final Sunday included Ray & Steve Bruun, but Ray Bruun's pixel-perfect shots from the weekend are on his website (damsels and dragons), while others are on Doug Aguillard's web pages.

all photos © 2007 Don Roberson