HOT SPREADWINGS in COLD CANYON
page in my "Dragonfly Journal" — this hit-and-miss collection of
essays chronicling a first year of interest in odes — I announced the
of the dragonfly season.
Reports of the season's demise were premature. The day after I
my "final" page, I found Monterey's first California
Spreadwing, and on 22 October Monterey's first Paddle-tailed
Darner was found by William Hull. So while the season is winding
— even the ladybugs are clumping together (left) — it is still going .
In the first weekend of November, Rita and I decided to try
the latest flying ode in the State: Great Spreadwing Archilestes
Internet inquires helped us pinpoint a likely place:
The upper reaches of Cold Canyon in Solano County (near right).
This is very close to Monticello Dam which holds back Lake Berryessa in
Napa Co. To help us find this elusive giant, we arranged to meet Kathy
& Dave Biggs (far right; its L to R: Rita, Kathy, Dave) to show us
the ropes here.
|There are pluses and minuses in venturing out into the wild
||One the down side, you must wade through the throngs of
eager to have Kathy sign her book, Dragonflies of California,
On the up side, when the going gets slow, Kathy may
just dig through
the muck and locate a dragonfly nymph (right), this one apparently an Argia dancer.
|This had all been entertaining but two hours had
gone by, and there
were still no flying odes to observe. Perhaps the the cool, overcast
was to blame — and we are in Cold Canyon. Perhaps there was a
reason for this name.
Finally, at 2 pm, the sun broke through and, as if
it had been choreographed,
Dave found the first spreadwing! Dave and I had clambered far upstream
(left) and while he remained crisp and neat as an REI model, I had
into the creek several times . . .
But it mattered not: the male Great Spreadwing
is in the sun
(below), with nothing but (sort-of) blue skies beyond!
|Alas, the location of this first spreadwing was too far
be reasonably reached, so Kathy and Rita went off to look for their own
spreadwings. Kathy netted a male (above left) that she and Rita
in hand, checking out the appendages with reference material (above
It proved to be a male California Spreadwing. Over the course
the hour that the sun was out, we ended up finding 6 male Greats and 6+
male Californians in a rather short stretch of creek edge, plus at
4 female Greats and one female California.
Close-ups of the head/thorax of a male Great (left) and
a male California
(right) are below:
|The most impressive find, though, was when Kathy and
Rita found several
tandem pairs of Great Spreadwing. One of them (below) was watched
directly into the weedy stems over the creekbed (below).
|With this climactic conclusion, perhaps it really is
the end the this
year's "Dragonfly Journal." What started as a bit of gee-whiz gawking
June evolved into a highly focused hunt for specific species. It has
a fine learning experience along the way.
Rita and I were fortunate to have some exceptional
guides in this journey.
We watched the mating behavior of Common Whitetails with Walt Koenig;
rummaged through drawers of specimens with Tim Manolis; we endured
roads to remote canyons with the Lavender
Hill Man, Paul Johnson. And in the end we found hot spreadwings in
Cold Canyon with Kathy & Dave Biggs. A memorable experience indeed.
|PHOTOS: All photos were taken 4 Nov 2006 in Cold
Co., and are © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.
PAGE OF DON'S ODONates
OF THE WORLD