Waking up to a beautiful morning, we stoke up the fire so we can have our usual cooked breakfast. This time though we take it slow as we have all day to explore.
On our previous visit in mid- July so many Cyrtostylis leaves and Pterostylis rosettes were found, however nothing was yet in bloom. So we venture up the same gully, with Richard in tow this time, to see if we will be lucky to find loads in flower. Before we had reached the gully however a little orchid catches our eye.
Seems we have found ourselves another Sigmoid spider orchid (Caladenia sigmoidea) which is an unexpected bonus.
Next up as we cross the gully we find the reliable Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’)
Then nearby another Sigmoid spider orchid is found. After searching up the steep gully slope only one spent Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) is found. A bit disappointing as there are so many leaves. The rosettes appear to be snail orchid ones, as that is all we find as well.
Then back on levelish ground near the gully a lone Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. On further investigation 2 other specimens are located nearby.
We then find ourselves back on the actual walk trail that leads from the campsite up to Peak Charles summit. Crossing the gully at the base of the rock we skirt eastwards crossing back over this gully and onto another granite plateau. During this scramble we find our first donkey orchids. Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) is found spread over the granite.
It was a long time before we came across another orchid. Actually it was more than 30mins when a green spider orchid is found. From the location it must be the Granite mantis orchid (Caladenia attigens subsp. ‘granite’) which flowers August to early October on granite outcrops from Peak Charles to Balladonia. Another distinguishing feature that sets it apart from the other mantis orchids is the lateral sepals are horizontal rather than being upswept.
Then it’s another 30mins before a Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii) pops into view. This one has 3 flowers and whilst getting low to take a photo 2 other plants appear. One with a single flower and the other with 2.
Not to far away we come across some more spider orchids. A nice group of 3 Western wispy spider orchids then a lone, what seems to be, Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) which flowers July to late September in an inland range from Paynes Find to Norseman. It’s habitat includes seasonally moist areas on granite outcrops.
Then a spider with the longest petals and lateral sepals I have ever seen is found. Appears to be another Western wispy spider orchid, the eastern form of which can have long, often pendulous petals and lateral sepals.
Deb then finds something other than an orchid. In fact it is a Roe’s Jewel Beetle (Stigmodera roei) and Mardi Gras Cockroach (Polyzosteria mitchelli) both brightly coloured in a single Pincushion or Resurrection Bush (Borya nitida Labill).
Close by these colourful little friends a small patch of yellow catches our eye. We find our first and only Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which flowers July to early December in a large range from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. Seems to be the day for solo orchids, as the very next one found is a lone Shy Greenhood (Pterostylis allantoidea) which flowers August and September in a triangular range from Ravensthorpe to Coolgardie to Israelite Bay.
Last orchid found before we head back for lunch is a newly emerging Rufous greenhood sp. name unknown.
Richard wishes to climb the peak, Debbie wishes to stay at camp to relax and bake some bread in the camp oven and I’m easy either way. However as we are heading off tomorrow, I accompany Richard as far as Mushroom Rock. While he goes climbing I look around for more orchids. I am rewarded with more Western wispy spider orchids, Yellow granite donkey orchids, Shy greenhoods , Hairy-stemmed snail orchids and Sigmoid spider orchids.
Well Peak Charles did not disappoint. A total of 11 orchid species located with 10 named. The Rufous greenhood sp. could be any 1 of 4 that are located in this area.
So it was a happy orchid hunter and crew, who after eating a hearty campfire cooked meal, crawl into bed for a well earned sleep.