I get to go Orchid hunting by myself today, as Debbie is flying to Perth for an Awards night with her employer. After seeing Debbie off at the Esperance airport, I head north up the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy. My first point of call is Fleming Grove Road. This is the 2nd visit of the season to this location, with the first turning up nothing. Let’s hope today is more fruitful.
A little white flower catches my eye. A White bunny orchid is found however on closer inspection of the leaf it appears to be a Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulates) which begin flowering in April over a large range from Northampton to east of Esperance and inland to Mt Jackson and Queen Victoria Rocks. This classification may be incorrect as one plant has 4 flowers and my references state they have up to 3. Also I don’t have a clear photo of the leaf due to surrounding vegetation. Other bunny orchids were found with less flowers which may confirm my classification.
Also found were some early Pterostylis genus orchids. Seems to be yet to fully open greenhood. Nothing more found so moving on to the next location.
Speddingup East Nature Reserve is that location. Driving slowly in first gear, I glance out the drivers window in a vain attempt at orchid spotting. Nothing seen at all so a bit despondently I turn around to head back to the road when I glance a gravelly track leading into the scrub. Why not give that a try, on foot this time, as it is very overgrown and too narrow, even for the Triton.
Nothing found here either, so I head into the scrub, for the walk back to the Triton. So glad I did, as there all by itself I find a perfect example of the Leafless orchid (Praecoxanthus aphyllus). This specimen stood 230mm in height and still looked fresh given they flower March to May. They range between Pinjarra and Esperance growing in sandy soils in scrublands and woodlands.
Feeling so much better now, I head off for Truslove North Nature Reserve. Turning just past the School site I slowly drive but find nothing. Parking up for a bite to eat, I call up Deb to find she had just arrived at her hotel. After a chat I go for a walk into the scrub, however do not find anything, so move onto the next locality.
Passing through Grass Patch to my destination of Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve, where I enter at the school site. Again I slowly drive through looking out my window, with no luck at spying any orchids. So I get out and wander around on foot, which still brings up nada.
OK, so today is not proving very successful, however I continue on my trip further north, with my next stop at Salmon Gums. A little disheartened, I sit in the Triton listening to the final quarter of the Collingwood v Carlton AFL match. After some heart stopping moments Collingwood win, which improves my mood, so I move on to our spot for orchid hunting.
This spot was proving orchid-less as well, when on my way back to the Triton, walking along the side of the road ditch I see a little orchid, all by itself. Finally found a Pygmy orchid (Corunastylis tepperi) in flower after only finding spent ones in previous years. Only the very top of the inflorescence though is still open with the majority finished for the season. These little guys flower April and May only, from Corrigin to Eyre.
So lucky to have found the one and only Pygmy orchid as he proves to be the last orchid I find today. On the way back home, I call into Circle Valley, Grass Patch arboretum, Truslove Townsite Nature Reserve and Scaddan, which all prove to be void of orchids. Well at least I didn’t find any.
Oh well, it was a nice day out but only 3 species found. 2 were single specimens, so I was very lucky to have found them. Pterostylis orchids are starting up, so the season moves on. Such a dry start is making the hunt harder this year so far, so we can only see how it pans out going forward.