I got up around 5:00 am even though I didn’t have to work today. Forecasts were for temperatures over 100° by the afternoon, so I headed out early to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge before it got too hot outside. I wasn’t expecting to see a lot of birds; I was looking for dragonflies. Before I even got near the refuge, I found myself driving through thin “clouds” of dragonflies along the freeway. It was like a population explosion of Variegated Meadowhawks; they were everywhere… and lots of them hitting the windshield like tiny soft bullets.
The refuge was full of them, too, especially where the water was still standing. I also saw lots of Widow Skimmers, Blue Dashers, Common Pondhawks (blue males and green females), Green Darners and Black Saddlebags, along with a bunch of blue damselflies. Despite their numbers, getting clear photos of them was a bear. They were usually in among the tules and other plants and all of the background “layers” made it difficult to tell if the camera was focusing on the right one. I snapped off almost 2000 shots and less than half of them were usable. That’s just how it goes sometimes. I also saw other insects like honey bees and bumblebees, and loads of Cabbage White butterflies. There were also some Sulphers, Common Buckeyes, and Painted Ladies.
As I was leaving the loop around the permanent wetland area, I came across some Great-Tailed Grackles. One of the males was feeding a juvenile female what looked like a tadpole he’d brought up from the water. I also saw Kingbirds, Pelicans, Grebes and Red-Winged Blackbirds.