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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Saddles in Bodega Bay

I've been waiting for a long time to see this dragonfly in northern California.

I know it isn't the best picture.  But you'll laugh at the story.  I had heard Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) had been spotted in Half Moon Bay, the Bay Area, and in Santa Rosa recently.  I wanted to see one, but I couldn't make it in to Santa Rosa at the time. So I went out to one of the closest ponds in the Bodega Dunes, figuring I'd probably have a chance there, since these dragonflies have been moving northward, and they can be found along the coast.  

I spent some time at the pond, and didn't see one dragonfly...not one!  I was about to leave, but paused to take some notes about how the drought has affected the vegetation around the pond.  And then I looked up to see a dragonfly appear at one corner of the pond.  And I couldn't believe my eyes when I realized it was a Red Saddlebags.  A single dragonfly, and it was the one I was hoping to see!

I tried to take a picture for documentation, and ended up with one that's good enough for the record (see below).  This dragonfly made a couple of passes along the edge of the pond and then disappeared, so I felt lucky to get even one picture.

Red Saddlebags have large red patches at the bases of the hind wings.  The red patches often have a central spot that's clear, which you can see in the photo above.

I'm still learning about the distribution of dragonflies in California.  My impression is that Red Saddlebags are resident in southern California, but only move northward to northern California in some years.  And you can see from the distribution map provided by Kathy Biggs (link below) that Sonoma County is near the northern limit for Red Saddlebags along the coast:

Count yourself lucky if you see a Red Saddlebags this year.   And if you do, I'd love to hear about it.  

P.S.  If you're wondering, the site where Red Saddlebags were seen in Santa Rosa is Nagasawa Community Park.  Check out Alan's outstanding pictures of them here.


David A. Hofmann said...

Congrats on your sighting and photo.

Jackie Sones said...

Thanks, David! Still hoping to get to Nagasawa Park to get better views (and photos). It's also interesting to think about where else Red Saddlebags might show up this year!