24/06/2020 ….. Winter Wednesday Wander

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks

I have taken an RDO today so that we can spend the day with my youngest son’s grandparents-in-law. Deb and I will be introducing them to our wonderful Western Australian orchids.

Heading out East to the farm near Condingup, we enjoy a cuppa before heading off for our day in the great outdoors. We make our way to Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) which we trust will ensure we have a variety of orchids to share with our guests.

On the track into the hill we stop at our usual first location and straight up Deb finds a spent orchid which appears to be the Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’) which flower April to June all the way East to Israelite Bay. On the other side of the track I come across a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) also way past it’s best. These also flower till June and extend to Israelite Bay.

Also found on the same side of the track to the Hare orchids were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which are a common winter orchid flowering over a southerly range, from Perth to Balladonia. Dark variants were also found which may actually be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula), a recently named species which occurs from Northampton to Eyre. This new species is a few flowered short statured orchid with variably coloured flowers. The lateral sepals of the Banded greenhood are not as fleshy as other greenhoods.

Deb as usual, finds the first new orchid species of the the day. The Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) is quite unique amongst the snail orchids, as flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves. Other features include clubbed lateral sepals and an early flowering period, being May to August. They are found between Geraldton and Israelite Bay and can attain a height of 150mm.

Further afield we find another spent Leek orchid and leaves of the Thelymitra genus. Making our way into the abandon gravel pit I stumble across a speck of yellow. Excited to find the first flowering donkey orchid of the season.

I am aware of only 2 donkey orchids that flower east of Esperance. The Beautiful donkey orchid and the Green Range donkey orchid. The Beautiful donkey orchid has distinctive mauve markings and usually grows on granite outcrops so the orchid found must be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis). This orchid flowers from July to early September , so they must be an early risers. They are found West to Denmark in a coastal, near coastal range.

Further into the search we find some Mosquito orchids in bud, Spider orchids in bud and more donkey, leek, greenhood and robust snail orchids, in varying stages of flowering.

We now move on to Thomas River in Cape Arid National Park for lunch. We enjoy lunch in one of the camp kitchens in the upper campground, then make our way down to the beach and head out on the rocks to catch a glimpse of the 4 whales in the bay. On the way back sitting on a stump in the river is a White bellied sea eagle.

Leaving the beach and Thomas River behind us, we head back towards the farm. We make a slight detour at Parmango Road where we pull over to check out the location shared with us late last season. It is after 4pm so a quick search is conducted. Nothing found, then with some luck, I was able to locate a Scented autumn leek orchid with one or two flowers still blooming.

With the light fading fast and the temperature dropping just as fast we jump back in the Triton for the drive back to the farm. We are invited to stay for dinner and finish our day enjoying further great company. I hope our guests enjoyed their day searching for orchids.

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