I was surprised to see this Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) in the Bodega Dunes this afternoon — my first-ever dragonfly on a Christmas Bird Count! It flew by us and then landed on this dried branch above some open sand.
This dragonfly appears to be a fairly young individual — that is, the colors are not fully developed and it isn't worn. This means that it may have emerged from a pond recently.
I heard that it was quite warm in the Bay Area while we were away in New England last week. Could it have been warm enough to cause some dragonflies to metamorphose? Where did this individual come from? Where will it go now? (There isn't much fresh water on Bodega Head.)
Here's another view from the side:
While writing this post, I vaguely remembered that I photographed this species in the Bodega Dunes Campground last winter, so I double-checked that date — it was on January 4th (see that post here)! So I guess today's sighting on December 29th isn't too far off last winter's sighting. Does this mean that late December/early January is a regular early emergence time for Variegated Meadowhawk in Sonoma County?