04/07/2020 ….. July Jaunt to the West

Day Trip, Lake Shaster NR, Munglinup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Springdale NR, Stokes NP

Today we plan on visiting Munglinup Beach shire reserve and search for the shell orchids we have previously found there. Other than that we are going to wing it. It is a beautiful sunny winter morning when we head off. I am driving for a change as Deb has just finished night shift.

First point of call is Stokes National Park where we visit the camping area. Here we find many greenhoods. From the colouring of them, they appear to be the Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which occur over a larger range, Mullewa to Esperance in WA as well as Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. They may however be the newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which has a shorter stature and up to 5 flowers only per plant. These occur over a similar range, Northampton to Eyre as well as in South Australia. Both species vary in colour from dark green to brownish-green to reddish-brown.

We now move on and head further west along the South Coast Hwy. Turning south onto Torradup Road which curves west into Springdale Road. We pull over at a burnt patch of scrub, which apparently is Springdale Nature Reserve. A quick look around turns up many Thelymitra, Pyrochis and Caladenia leaves but nothing in bloom as yet.

Heading further west we turn down Munglinup Beach Road and head down to the Oldfield River. On the track in, Deb spies a flowering donkey orchid. So we both jump out to grab a photo of the South coast donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) which occurs between Munglinup and Denmark. Differs to the Green Range donkey orchid in having a broad mid-lobe to the labellum.

We then drove to the river bank and parked up on the granite. After eating lunch we ventured around looking for orchids in flower. Lots of Caladenia leaves found and only one decent greenhood.

Off to the Munglinup Beach campground we go (Mud Map SE33), as this is our planned stop of the day. Heading into the stabilised dune system we immediately come across a snail orchid, which is not fully formed as yet. From the location and length of the lateral sepals I am going to name this the Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’) which occurs between Esperance and the Stirling Ranges. Also came across lots of what appears to be Corybas leaves.

Pushing through to the base of the dunes Deb successfully discovers some shell orchids in flower. They are found all along the base of the dunes, with many more non-flowering rosettes than flowering orchids, but still flowering in good numbers. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) is a coastal orchid found from Binningup to Israelite Bay during June, July and August. It varies in colour from Green to Brown, as the photos below show. There are 7 named species of shell orchids found in Western Australia.

Further snail orchids are found and many Corybas leaves, with some starting to bud. We will have to re-visit in the coming weeks to see if we can catch them in flower.

Time to move on, so Deb takes a track leading east which we assume will take us to another beach access. Whilst slowly driving along in 1st gear we are both peering out looking for any orchids that may catch our eye. Unbelievably I spy a lone little snail orchid. The Thick-sepalled snail orchid (Pterostylis meridionalis) occurs along the coast from Cape Arid to Esperance. My location is 100km west of this, however I feel its small stature, uniformly thickened lateral sepals and substantial rosette when compared to stature of orchid, confirms my ID. Please correct me if you disagree.

We have travelled into Lake Shaster Nature Reserve whilst heading east, which occurs both west and east of the Shire Reserve at Munglinup Beach. Further along the track we come across many more banded greenhoods, of varying colours and sizes.

Just before we reached the coastline another patch of snail orchids was found. These appear to be further Ravensthorpe snail orchids by their thinner lateral sepals. The bays we found on the coast were beautiful as always. It is now after 3pm so we had better make tracks home.

Backtracking the way we had come, we make a decision to head north up Fuss Road, so as to reach the Hwy sooner. Well that was the plan.

Just shy of the Hwy is the Munglinup Nature Reserve, where we find an access track that just beckoned us to stop. So parking up in an abandoned sand pit, we go on a little exploration down the track on foot. So glad we did as there on the edge of the track is a little spider orchid in bloom. The first one for the 2020 season. 🙂 The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) occurs between Kalbarri and Esperance, with flowering starting in July and progressing until mid-October. This was the only spider orchid found on todays adventure.

Further along the track we come across more banded greenhoods, which seem to be the orchid of the day. Again the variations make it difficult to decide if they are Dark banded, Mallee banded or just Banded.

The day however ended with discovering many donkey orchids in flower, in what appeared to be an abandoned gravel pit, that our track lead to. From the varying width of the mid lobe of their labellum we may have found two species. The South coast donkey orchid as previously found earlier today has a wide mid lobe, whilst the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) has a thinner mid lobe. Both species occur in coastal/near coastal locations from Denmark to Munglinup and Esperance respectively. Flowering times also overlap during the months of July and August.

Light is fading fast now, so we walk back to the Triton, enjoy a hot cuppa, then head home. The moon is already in the sky as we return to Fuss Road. Turning right onto the Hwy we head east as far as Young river where we check out a possible spot for orchids. Here we catch an amazing sunset over the river. What a great way to end a wonderful day trip searching for orchids. We are blessed.

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