page 5
MONTEREY ODE MOTHERLODE
a mini Big Day
Monday, 24 July 2006, would break all sorts of high temperature records from the S.F. Bay Area to Monterey. As it happens, this was the morning I took off work because Rita had a day off and we wanted to try the Arroyo Seco Lakes 55 miles and an hour-and-a-half from home because our efforts to visit there on a weekend two weeks back had been stymied: the park was full and they wouldn't let us in. Little did we know it would be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit by the time we arrived! Even the local Dark-eyed Junco (right) was panting in the heat. This is a real shot of a panting junco . . . he went right down to the pond to drink, oblivious to me and to the dozens of dragonflies there. For we had hit the Ode Motherlode for Monterey County! A brief 1.5 hour visit produced over 100 individual odonates of 14 species. Maybe that's not much back East or even in northeastern California but here that is a lot of bugs!

So here's a photo checklist of the odes at Arroyo Seco Lakes in reality two small reedy ponds on a brief visit in hot, humid weather. Larger versions of the photos will appear elsewhere on this web site in due course. The counts are actually those made at the smaller, more western pond, as I ran out of time to survey the larger pond except very briefly [I had to return to work in the afternoon]. Further, the species and counts of damsels are likely heavily understated since I spent half my time waiting for at least one Black Saddlebags to perch which none ever did!

#
Species
Number
Photo
1
Spotted SpreadwinLestes congener

[photo may represent 1st MTY
photo record?]

1 female
2
California Dancer  Argia agriodies
3
3
Pacific Forktail  Ischnura cervula
1 immature female
4
Desert Firetail  Telebasis salva
1
5
Common Green Darner  Anax junius
2
no photos here; but see photos from the day before at Salinas
6
Blue-eyed Darner  Rhionaeschna multicolor
4
no photos here; photos taken later this date in Seaside (below)
7
Western Pondhawk  Erythemis (s.) collocata

[photo may represent 1st MTY
photo record?]

6
8
Widow Skimmer  Libellula luctuosa
40
9
Flame Skimmer  Libellula saturata
3
10
Blue Dasher  Pachydiplax longipennis
30
11
Common Whitetail  Plathemis lydia
4
12
Cardinal Meadowhawk  Sympetrum illotum
4
13
Striped Meadowhawk  Sympetrum pallipes

[photo may represent 1st MTY
photo record?]

1
14
Black Saddlebags  Tramea lacerata

[photo may represent 1st MTY
photo record?]

12
Since we had 14 species in the morning, Rita and I stopped briefly at Laguna Grande Park, Seaside where it was a balmy 80 degrees on the coast after work, as I knew spots some additional species frequented. Here we had some repeats (e.g., Cardinal Meadowhawk, Common Whitetail, Western Forktail) but either added these species or upgraded a sighting to a photograph:
15
Vivid Dancer  Argia vivida
50
16
Arroyo Bluet  Enallagma praevarum
1
Pacific Forktail  Ischnura cervula

[added photo of a male]

15
Blue-eyed Darner [upgrades to photo]

it was like a huge "convention" of these
darners over the grass

40
Had we more time, it would have been easy to add 4 stops for more species American Rubyspot Hetaerina americana along the Arroyo Seco River, two species at a pond near Salinas (Tule Bluet E. carunculatum, Variegated Meadowhawk S. corruptum), and Carmel (Western Forktail I. perparva, Familiar Bluet E. civile) all at currently known locales within the past week. This would have pushed the mini Big Day to 20 species or just over.
IN PERSPECTIVE

These are not very high numbers as odonates go for much of the rest of America. Doug Aguillard recently found 38 species within San Diego County in a day, and many places back East it is easy to find 50 in a day, I'm told. But here in Monterey County a diverse county but rather dry we thought it was a good day. The "official" Monterey County checklist is only 34 species (and those we did find this date represented nearly half the county's list), but the checklist needs updating. Three species photographed above (Spotted Spreadwing, Desert Firetail, Common Whitetail) are not yet "officially" on the checklist, despite many records. Another 4-6 species have also likely been recorded but need confirmatory details.

Yet despite all these limitations, it was a lot of fun and there may be few mini Big Days that are so well documented with photos.

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PHOTOS: All photos are © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

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