California Odes

Tramea calverti

During Ode Blitz II in October 2006, this Mexican species was discovered at West Pond, near Imperial Dam, Imperial Co., for a first California record. We thought it would be fun to hit the same spot a year later in hopes of vagrant dragonflies. On 13 Oct 2007, Rita Carratello and I, plus Tim Manolis, visited West Pond and vicinity.

We found some nice odes at West Pond but nothing rare, so near mid-day we drove up Senator Wash Road to its northern terminus at Squaw Lake, just below Senator Wash Dam. From the dam we could see a nice pond & wetland just to the east (photo above) but there was a "No Trespassing" sign. We asked permission at South Mesa campground and were granted access. The pond proved to be formed by a beaver dam (left) with a nice creek running from the beaver dam and all the way down to Squaw Lake itself.

Tim Manolis was just below the beaver dam at 1:18 p.m. when he shouted "Striped Saddlebags!" We came running and I started taking photos (below) of the adult male.

So that was exciting — documenting the State's 4th record of Striped Saddlebags and the first away from the confines of West Pond itself (although only about 2 miles away). Tim Manolis posted to CalOdes that evening from Orange County.

Meanwhile, the next day found Rita and me at the Salton Sea, mostly birdwatching. We stopped by the headquarters of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR and found we had the site to ourselves. We wandered down the dike on the south side of the parking lot, with a canal to our left and mesquite to our right, until Rita spotted another Striped Saddlebags!

I only managed this one shot (above) before the saddlebags took off for the mesquite scrub to the north. At the time we thought it had been an imm male but now, on photo review, I think it is was a female. This female on 14 Oct 2007 proved to be not even to the first T. calverti for the Imperial Valley, as Peter Siminski had seen yet another female the day before at the Wister Unit of the Salton Sea refuge!

On both the male and the female, note how the red patch on the wings is confined narrowly to the base of each wing, and demarcated from the rest of the otherwise clear wing by a sharp, straight edge. We noted this in flight, and the restriction of the color can make it difficult to even see the red patch unless close views are obained. This is very different from the extensive and oddly-shaped patch on Red Saddlebags. Further, both of the Striped Saddlebags had lots of black on the dorsal surfaces of abdominal segments 8, 9, and 10, and both had white stripes on the thorax. These stripes, too, could be hard to see except at close range or the right angle.

all photos © 2007 Don Roberson