Waking up to a beautiful sunny morning I take a quick check of the scrub behind Mary-lou’s property. I find a small spider orchid so grab a quick photo with my Samsung phone. I then head back to enjoy breakfast and a nice hot shower. Quick photo shoot with Ian and Mary-lou before I take Deb and Mary-lou back to the orchid I found. Another quick check before it is time to make tracks again.
This orchid appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) due to the size of the labellum. These orchids flower over a large range from Kalbarri to Esperance during the months July to early-October.
No other orchids founds, so we bid farewell to Burakin and make our way east along the Bonnie Rock-Burakin Road. Checking out the Hema Map we decide to detour to Mollerin (Lake) Nature Reserve. Firstly we venture down Chapman Road to the reserve but there is no real access so we make the decision to back-track and hit the reserve via the Kulja-Mollerin Rock road, which turned out to be a fortuitous decision. On the track into the parking area we spy orchids from the vehicle. Pulling over we jump out to grab some photos and have a quick scout around.
First up Deb finds some Drooping spider orchids (Caladenia radialis) which occur mostly inland from Northampton to Jerramungup, flowering from August to early-October. The drooping nature of the petals, lateral sepals and usually the dorsal sepal confirms the common name.
Nearby are two colour variations of the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei), greenish-yellow and red. These little guys can grow to 300mm in height and rare specimens have 3 flowers per orchid. They are known to hybridise with many other Caladenia orchids.
Also found were some donkey orchids. The bright yellow colouring and the location points to the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae). Found near inland granite and breakaway habitat from Paynes Find to Salmon gums, flowering during the months of August and September.
Mixed in with these three different species were a couple of wispy spider orchids. Choosing between a few possible species I am going to call them the Outback spider orchid (Caladenia remota subsp. remota), due to the larger labellum, creamy colouring and location found.
Then unexpectedly we came across an old concrete sheep dipping station. These were built by the Shire of Koorda in 1944 as shared facilities for local farmers, financed by the Agricultural Bank. It was after grabbing some photos that we decided to quickly move back to the Triton and move on to the parking/camping area at the base of the Mollerin rock.
Now to check out the rock for some orchids. We cover quite a bit of the rock but only manage to find more Yellow granite donkey orchids.
It is not until we reach flat ground at the base of the rock do we find anything different. First up we discover some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), however getting a good picture of them proved challenging due to the wind. Also nearby another blue orchid is found. The Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is found growing rather spindly in the green ferns under the shrubs. Struggled for a good picture of this as well. Both orchids are common inland species and flower as late as October, however their seasons start in May and August respectively.
Many, many more Drooping spider orchids where found with the occasional Yellow granite donkey orchid and Ant orchid thrown in. Some more pictures taken before we decide it is best we move on.
Leaving Mollerin Rock we head back to the Bonnie Rock Burakin Road and head east. Using the Wheatbelt Way Trail map as a guide we stop at the Datjoin Well & Rock Reserve, as a possible overnight stay. Whilst we make our mind up if we will stay here the night we decide to have a quick look around after having a cuppa. Straight up we some Ant orchids in the camping area/picnic area. These two provide a visual of the variations in colour these orchids are found.
Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. These guys are always so difficult to ID. These ones appear to be more Common spider orchids which are commonly found in clumps.
Moving into the surrounding open woodlands another Ant orchid is found, however this one is a very reddish colour with striped labellum. So what is it? After checking into my written and online references, plus asking fellow orchid enthusiasts, I confirm this little beauty is a hybrid between the Ant orchid and either the Drooping spider orchid or Common spider orchid. Due to the mostly red colouring I feel the other parent must be the Drooping spider orchid, so will be calling this orchid Caladenia radialis X Caladenia roei.
Also found as single specimens were the Blue beards, which are also referred to as Blue fairy orchid.
The most numerous orchid found was the Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) which is a widespread orchid found mostly inland from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering season is also quite long, from late-June to September. They range in colour from pale to deep pink, however we found one that was white. This one lacked the pink colour, so is a hypochromic specimen which some refer to as lutea.
Finally moved over to check out the well and go for a short walk up to the rock. Close to the well we came across more Drooping spider orchids in good clumps. On the rock however we only came across some donkey orchids. Location should point to them being further Yellow granite donkey orchids, however the lateral sepals are just hanging, so I will leave the naming to others. Feel free to offer your thoughts.
Well, it is now after 4 and we need to decide if we will camp here the night. The camp ground here is rather small and uneven and there is already a caravan set up, so we decide to move on to the next camping stop on the Wheatbelt Way. Beringbooding Rock provides much more space to camp so we set up the camper, collect wood and start the fire, then enjoy a well earned rest.
Another wonderful day spend it the great outdoors. 8 orchid species found plus 1 hybrid and 1 hydrochromic orchid.