After enjoying a wonderful breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park we take our grandson Ollie out to play on some blue metal mountains along Wittenoon road. We have previously found orchids at the site so it is a dual purpose visit.
First up Ollie and myself play in and on the blue metal mountains whilst Deb has a quick scout around. Not much found so she takes a few photos with her iPhone of the Western wispy spider orchids I found last visit and some of us playing.
Next it’s time for Nanna (Deb) to climb the mountain with Ollie and my time for searching. I am fortunate enough to find 5 different species in a quick search:
Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata), Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila), Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) & Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis).
Not a very productive day today, as it was hard to search with the wonderful distraction of our grandson.
After wetting our appetite yesterday, we head out again to broaden our search. A quick stop at the Wittenoom Road site provides more Green Range donkey orchids and Blue Beards.
We move further north to Mount Burdett where we go on a more thorough search. Straight away we find some Banded greenhoods and Brittle snail orchids.
Then on closer inspection some of the snail orchids appear to be a different species. They are the closely related Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are smaller in stature, have plumper flowers and shorter, thicker lateral sepals. They flower between Southern Cross and Israelite Bay during the months June to August.
Whilst I’m still grabbing photos Deb yelps as she encounters a snake in her path. I make a wide berth around the area and by the time I catch up to her she has located another species of snail orchid. This time they are Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) which unlike other snail orchids do not have a rosette of leaves when flowering. They are easily identified by this and differ to the Brittle and Fawn snail orchids by having numerous stem leaves. These flower between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during the months May through to August.
Then very close by in a bright green patch of moss Deb spies a little speck of pink. Wowsers, she has stumbled across some Pink bunny orchids (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber) which are found between Jurien Bay and Cape Arid National Park during the months July through September. An unusual feature of theses orchids is the leaves differ between flowering and non-flowering plants. How lucky are we to find such small orchids. These ones were no more than 40mm in height.
Another common orchid for the season is discovered which I grab a photo of to record our findings. The newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscular) was at it’s maximum height of 150mm but has few flowers when compared to the similar Dark banded greenhood. Inland distribution between Northampton and Eyre, flowering June to early September.
Moving up and over the granite, we make it to the so called summit and there we locate a couple of Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra). These orchids are found between Kalbarri and Esperance between the months May to August. They are known for their inland distribution and can be found on granite outcrops.
Nearby a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) is found standing tall all alone on the granite. These orchids flower July to September in a restricted range between Salmon Gums , Esperance and Balladonia. They have a very distinctive coloured tri-lobed labellum
Another donkey orchid is found, however it is not another Beautiful donkey orchid. Due to being located on granite it could be the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) however it does not have recurved later sepals. So it could be the hybrid between these two orchids (Diuris pulchella x D. hazeliae).
Many more snail orchids found on the way back to the car. No more Fawn snails orchids found which was disappointing.
For lunch we move on to Mount Ridley. On the track in the first orchid found was another Mallee banded greenhood then a lonely snail orchid was found right on the edge of the track at the base of a tree. I believe it to be a Brittle sail orchid.
After refilling ourselves with lunch we head off up the granite rock in search of orchids. First orchid found was a Banded greenhood, followed by Mallee banded greenhoods and finally some Yellow granite donkey orchids (Diuris hazeliae) which occurs between Paynes Find and Balladonia in an inland range during the months August and September. There are many just budding up but we were lucky enough to find some early flowering ones. Also found were some yet to bloom Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which are also an inland orchid found between Northampton and Grass Patch during July to October.
Unfortunately a storm moved in very quickly and we got caught in a downpour. Trying to shelter under some bushes I spy a Brittle snail orchid so grab a photo of him dripping wet. Once the 10 minute downpour had finished we very carefully climbed back down to the Triton, so as not to slip and injure ourselves.
Rather than back track we decide to take the scenic road home via Grass Patch. Even though we are wet through it was a decent orchid hunt today. 12 different species found and 1 hybrid.