Well, after yesterday spending some time looking for orchids near our coastal lakes, it was inevitable that we would venture out to Helm’s Arboretum (Helm’s Forestry Reserve) to check out what is still flowering in this amazing location. (Mud Map SE35)
We do not have to venture far before we stumble across some orchid beauty. In the section near the entrance, we find the following orchids:
Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa)
Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)
Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava)
Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media)
Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)
Time is a moving and so must we, so onwards into the Arboretum we go. At the first road to the right, we turn off and slowly drive along looking out the windows. As soon as we spy something new, we pull over for a closer inspection. Along this track we find the following different orchids:
Little pink fairies (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Un-named Hybrid orchid (Caladenia flava x C. reptans)
Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia)
Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera)
Moving further into the Arboretum we stop at a specific spot to find the Rattle beaks and we are not disappointed. Other orchids our found across the track from the Rattle beaks.
Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus)
Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)
Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis)
Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana)
Now to check out some further areas of this large reserve. We come across some more varied spider and sun orchids which may be different species, hybrids or just colour variants. Other orchids new for the day were also found and I will list these first.
Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans)
Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana)
Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians)
Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)
Now for pics of the varied spider and sun orchids found.
After a weekend off to recover from our road trip we had to get out to see what was still flowering around Esperance. Today we decided to check out the Kepwari Walk Trail which meanders between Woody and Wheatfield Lakes.
First orchid found is the locally abundant Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora), which comes in many shades of red, yellow and green. Size is also a variant; in that they can range from 250mm to 500mm in height and the flowers can be between 50 to 100mm across.
Then you come across spider orchids that don’t seem to fit the usual image of the Esperance king spider orchid however they are beautiful in their own right. I feel one is a hybrid between the Esperance king and Esperance white spider orchids, but this would need someone to clarify for me. Others maybe just unusual specimens.
Other spider orchids found include the Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)and the Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans)which are also locally occurring species.
Final couple of orchids found are both yellow in colour but belong to completely different genera. First up is the common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is found between Israelite Bay and Geraldton. The Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) on the other hand is restricted more locally between Cape Arid to Fitgerald River National Park.
At least 5 species found during a pleasant walk. Not too bad a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Day one of our annual road trip. This time however we are travelling with a larger group and are heading up into the Pilbara, where orchids are not located, so I will be recording only the days which include finding orchids. We leave home at 7.45am and head up to West Beach to say goodbye to our grandkids, then as we are over that way we call into the Wind Farm for a quick gander.
Here we find the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta), Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii)and Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia).Deb grabs some quick snaps before we head off west towards Munglinup.
Deb drops me off at the cleared block near the Munglinup Roadhouse, whilst she goes to the toilet. Walking back to meet her I find some donkey orchids in flower. From my knowledge or the area they are either Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) or South coast donkey orchids (Diuris brockmanii) which have very similar features and distribution.
From here we head to Ravensthorpe then north to Lake King, where we have a tavern lunch. With full bellies we head west toward Lake Grace. However along the way we look into the verge at South Buniche Nature Reserve. Here we locate 3 different species in the Pterostylis genre. First up is the common Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) followed by some snail orchids. These little guys could possibly be two different species due to their colouring and rosettes. The final orchid is the unique Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii).
We now move onto our planned overnight stay, the Jam Patch, in North Lake Grace. We expected other campers to be here, however we lucked into being all alone. Before setting up camp fully we venture off on the Red loop walk trail in search of orchids. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis setulosa) are the first orchid to be found.
At the edge of a flat granite rock I was lucky enough to stumble across some spider orchids. From the location alongside a granite rock I will take a stab and name these the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia)which occurs between Paynes Find and Norseman during July to September.
It was great to find some spider orchids as it was looking like a Pterostylis type of day. We kept walking the trail and came to the lake which provided great reflection shots and is where the featured image was taken. The only other orchids found though were a great bunch of more Hairy-stemmed snail orchids. So I have posted a photo just to show the number of orchids in such a small location. Also posted a pic of our camp for the night. Was a nice day to start our road trip. Not as many orchid stops as usual, but this trip we are travelling much larger distances.
Running solo again today as Deb has an afternoon shift. I decide to go back to the Wind Farm to see if the Bird orchids have flowered yet. I discovered many rosettes back on the 11/07/2021, so it’s been 4 weeks.
After parking up, I start at the left of the parking lot and find some snail orchids in flower. Very difficult to name snail orchids. The size of the rosette and it’s leaves, length of lateral sepals and plant height varied greatly so there may actually be at least 2 species. Possible options are the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. “coastal snail”), Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis grossa)or Thick-sepalled snail orchid (Pterostylis meridionalis).
I then started up the walking track and ran into a fellow orchid hunter, Kathy M. She was interested in the ID of a snail orchid she had found that had fawnish tones to it as well as one that seemed to have different rosette to others she had found. ID proves difficult and the species may be one of the previously listed options.
We spent quite a while checking out the Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) and the intermingled Bird orchid (Pterostylis sp.) rosettes, which unfortunately have yet to flower.
Kathy was going to check further down the road towards the coast, whilst I went into the scrub looking for the Pink fairy orchids (Caladenia latifolia) which Kathy had mentioned she had found. Three beautiful flowers found in full bloom. They were a very pale shade of pink, almost white in patches.
Flowering near the Pink fairies are some Curled tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii), which are a coastal shell orchid found from Binningup to Esperance.
I spend a few more minutes checking the area and come across further mosquito and shell orchids. I walk back to the car and head back towards the coast. A little ways down the track Kathy had parked up and was fossicking in the roadside scrub. I enquired if she had located much, to which she replied – there are some helmet orchids flowering. I pull over and take some photos of the small Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flower during the period July to early September over a coastal range between Walpole and Esperance.
Other snail orchids found, which all have different features, which makes the task of identification very difficult. I have posted a flower and rosette shot for each distinct orchid and if you can provide any ideas on the likely identification, please do not hesitate to comment.
Now I head off to discover a new location to explore. Another orchid hunter Geoff R, advised me of this location on Twilight Beach Road near Observatory Point. Pulling over onto the limestone I jump out an immediately start exploring the low wind swept coastal scrub. Firstly had to watch my step as there are so many mosquito orchid leaves. Luckily I find one in flower as these orchids flower from June to August, so it is getting towards the end of their season.
Further into the scrub I come across some beautiful little snail orchids with dark sepals, both lateral and dorsal. Still unable to name these confusing little orchids. Moving back towards the car I find 3 Caladenia sp. orchids tempting me with there buds.
Along the vehicle track into the scrub, I come across many more snail orchids which only add to the confusion of ID.
Walking back however, I also discover some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) still in flower. Closer to the Triton I push back into the scrub and are rewarded with a couple of Curled-tongue shell orchids, mosquito orchids and a Caladenia sp. orchid in bud.
3.47 pm so time to move on. Plan was to pop up to Dempster Head and see if the Spectacled donkey orchid was flowering, however I change my mind and pull into Chapmans Point instead. Nothing found on the lookout walk so just made my way down towards the point and checked out underneath shrubs and around the granite rocks.
Have a guess what I found first. That’s right, some more confusing snail orchids. Also found other mosquito orchids in flower. It was an amazing warm sunny winters afternoon, so finding the orchids that I have, just made the day even better. Now time for home.
Planned family picnic cancelled, so we took the opportunity to go for a Sunday drive. Time to check the local area to see if we could find anything special. We headed west first, with a roadside stop producing only Caladenia leaves. We then pulled over for another roadside stop on the Gibson-Dalyup road, which proved more successful.
A donkey orchid catches my eye, then Deb notices I had walked past 2 plants to get to my find. Typical of me to miss ones that Deb then finds. Oh well, a find is a find. The orchid appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs between Denmark and Esperance and flowers from July to September. Leaves of other species located but nothing yet in flower or already past their time.
We now move on to Gibson to see it we find anything new. Once we reach the track off Walker Road we chug along in 1st whilst hanging out the window looking for anything. I spy a nice big Caladenia leaf so pull over to go for an explore. Before that though I make coffees from the thermos. Deb finds a couple of Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which we found here on a previous visit, however took some photos to record it nevertheless. Another Pterostylis orchid found however not fully open. The Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) will be a common sight soon enough.
Slightly disappointed with our luck so far today, so we move on to our Crawford Road location. Again we appear to be too early as we find many orchid leaves, with some in bud. So where to go now? Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) of course. Surely we will find something in flower there.
We decide to mix it up and turn down a track in the arboretum we had not checked out before. This lead us nowhere that seemed likely to produce orchids so we found our way back to known territory. First up though, we head to a sunny spot to have lunch. Curried egg sandwiches eaten whilst checking out nearby spots. Deb finds so many budding spider orchids in a spot we had not really checked before, so we now know where to check out later in the season.
Moving on we head to the location where we have previously found Western tiny blue orchids. Deb drops me off to walk through the plot, whilst she drives around the boundary. I find some what I believe to be Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) however one of them is quite dark so am not so sure. Could be Dark banded greenhoods or Mallee Banded greenhoods. Thoughts welcome on the ID. No tiny blues found as they are listed as flowering from August, so again we must be too early. EDIT: I have been advised by a knowledgeable person the green orchid is a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) (green form) due to opaque lateral sepals without stripes, compared to the earlier greenhood found. Also confirms Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula)for the darker greenhood. Thanks MP
Back on the main road into the arboretum Deb spies a small flowering spider orchid blowing in the strong winds. Very difficult conditions to try and get a good photo to assist with identification. I will provide two options. Either Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila)or Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) as both flower early in July and extend into the Esperance area. What are your thoughts? EDIT:C. microchila has been identified by a knowledgeable person. Thanks MP.
Then it was time to check out the plot where we find our king spider orchids. Deb as usual finds the first one in flower. The Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) as the name suggests is found around Esperance. It actually ranges between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid and inland to Scaddan. It is said to flower from August to October so the few orchids we found today must be some early bloomers.
We then move on to the plot where we find snail orchids in most years. This time is no exception. The snail orchids grow from quite a large rosette of leaves, have 2 or 3 stem leaves on a smooth stem and uniformly thick lateral sepals. I have been advised by a knowledgeable person from the WA Native Orchid Facebook group that they are most likely the yet unnamed Helms snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Helms’). Also found some spider orchids in bud.
It’s now 2 pm so we make tracks for home as Deb commences her shift at 4 pm. Was not expecting to find 2 species of Spider orchids in flower so it turned out to be a great Sunday exploration.
As Deb has an afternoon shift, I am home alone at 2.30 pm, so what to do? Revisit my new location from 2 weeks ago sounds like a plan. So back to Pink Lake Lookout I go.
I make a bee line for the area I found the emerging shell orchids last time. There were more Caladenia leaves, some with small buds, and many Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) still in flower along the way.
I approach the location from above the shrub rather than below and it provides a better view. I am very happy to discover numerous orchids are now in flower. They are Curled-tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii) which are a coastal orchid found between Binningup and Esperance. As with all shell orchids they grow in colonies which makes for tricky photographs, as there are so many rosettes that need to be avoided. Even though there may be lots of rosettes in the colony, only a few orchids actually flower each season.
Now I move back towards the track and locate the Mosquito orchid leaves which were in bud last visit. Unfortunately they have yet to flower. Not to worry as Deb has advised me that there are Mosquito orchids flowering at the Wind Farm, so I walk back to the Ford and head off to visit there.
After parking the Ford, I make my way along the walk track to the Wind turbine. It is along the edge of the track that I locate the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) in flower. I happily sit down on the ground to grab a few snaps.
More mosquito orchids are found further along the track and then a very dark specimen catches my eye. I kneel down to grab some snaps and whilst doing this I notice that there are bird orchid rosettes growing underneath the nearby shrub. Oh my this is awesome. I will now have to re-visit this location later in the season to see if any of them flower.
No further orchids are found on the small walkway from the Wind turbine to a lookout. I take in the amazing view over the bay and the Nine Mile Wind Farm. I am actually in the 10 Mile Lagoon Wind Farm which I found out by reading the information at the picnic shelter. I did not know there were 2 wind farms built about 10 years apart. We learn something new everyday LOL.
I go for a wander before returning to the Ford and come across more mosquito orchid leaves and bird orchid rosettes, which confirms that I will have to return later. A great 2 hours spent in the outdoors on a cold winters Sunday.
On a cold winters day, what better to do than go exploring for orchids!! We must be mad. With grey clouds and the possibility of rain, we head north to check out the northern boundary of Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). We wish to see how far the Southern Curly Locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) have progressed. We locate some of the spiral leaves but not in the same numbers as previous years, which is disappointing considering the great start to the season, weather wise. Another orchid found was a spent Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum Sp. ‘early’) which flower April to June, hence this orchid being finished for the season.
Nothing else found so we move eastwards to Dempster Road via Gibson Road then turn into Wittenoom Road. Rather than check out the blue metal dump which is one of our regular haunts we move further north and check out the old gravel pit near Scaddan Road. First up growing in the pushed back road verge we find some banded greenhoods. As they vary in colour they may be different species. Other specimens are found further afield so I am confident the larger greenish ones are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the smaller brownish ones are the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). Both flower during July and are shown as appearing in the Esperance region.
Then a wonderful patch of snail orchids being watched by a large fungi is found. From the rosettes and colouring of the snail orchids I believe they are Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi). These small guys flower from July to September over an easterly distribution including Esperance.
We now move on further north and venture up a track that leads into Mount Burdett Nature Reserve. Further Brittle snail orchids are found or are they the similar Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are of smaller stature with shorter lateral sepals but fatter appearance.
Whilst we are taking photos of the snail orchids another 5 cars drive past on the track, so we decide to turn around and head to Mt Burdett (Mud Map SE36) for a detailed search. We reach our parking spot at the base of the granite rock an immediately find some greenhoods. From the height of the plants and the number of dark coloured flowers I believe they are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September over a large range from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove.
Nearby found a lone Banded greenhood and then looking around some large snail orchids come into view. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) which are distinctive, in that when flowering they lack a rosette.
I think the next snail orchid found is definitely a Fawn snail orchid as it is short statured , has bloated flowers and the rosettes have blue-green pointed leaves. The snail orchids are sharing the bright green moss with another small orchid as well. The Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber)flowers early July, so these are on time as they are just starting to open. These little orchids are unique in that their flowering and non-flowering leaves differ in appearance.
Moving further up the rocky mount, we come across a patch of Mallee banded greenhoods which are similar to the Dark banded greenhoods but have less flowers and are shorter in stature.
We finally make it up to the summit, so to speak. We are excited to find a nice patch of shell orchids in flower. The Green-veined shell orchid (Pterostylis scabra)are a common inland shell orchid flowering over a huge range, Kalbarri to Esperance, during the months of May to August. They grow in varied habitats of woodlands and shrublands to shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops. The later describes our location.
Moving down the mount back to the Triton we come across more Fawn snail orchids. Nothing more so we move on in a south easterly direction this time.
So driving down Greens Road we notice a track leading into the Burdett South Nature Reserve. Quick check of Google Maps and we decide to check it out. It is quite overgrown so we end up walking mostly. Lucky find of a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) as they finish their season in June.
We come to a salt lake that provides a great backdrop for our obligatory “Selfie”, however the only other orchids found in flower where the good old Banded greenhood, plus a snail orchid with its hood eaten off. Rosette of stalked pointed leaves, leads me to name it the Brittle snail orchid.
Well it’s now 3.45pm so we decide to walk back to the Triton for the drive home. It was a very cold day however we found some great orchids and enjoyed the fresh air.
As Deb started work at 2pm today, I decided to checkout a new location. But where? Deb mentioned the Pink Lake Lookout and the Great Ocean Trail as a location with possibilities. As I had the Ford this sounded like a great spot to try.
First up though I decided to check out our location on Pink Lake to see if the Mosquito orchids have started to flower yet. This place unfortunately is getting to be a dumping ground for illegal rubbish and it actually had an abandoned van backed up on the other side of the barrier. I only found the leaves with sprouts growing, so a week or so off from flowering I guess.
Now time to check out the new location. I park the Ford at the lookout, where a family of friendly magpies greets you. One of them grabs a dead bird from my grill that would have been mummified, as it has been there for a few weeks. Crossing over the road I climb up to the seat on the Great Ocean Trail. Now which way? Right or Left.
I choose to go towards the Pink Lake Golf Club. The trail is paved so easy walking. However orchids don’t grow in paved walk trails, so I skirt the very edge looking into the surrounding scrub. I decide to leave the trail and head down into the valley via the cleared space underneath the over head powerlines. At a fallen banksia tree I did see some Caladenia leaves growing so things are promising. However as nothing else is found I push through a patch of grass trees (Xanthorrhoea platyphylla) back to the trail.
A little bit further along I leave the trail to to left and head in to a patch of open ground. It is here I find more leaves before finally stumbling across what I thought to be a lone Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) in flower. After taking some photos I look around and there are many more flowering nearby. In fact the area is covered in them, ranging from 1cm to over 30cm in height.
After more searching I find a patch of smaller rosettes, so down on my hands and knees for a closer inspection as they are under the scrub. I find some orchids so close to being in full bloom, that it is frustrating to say the least. They are most likely Curled-tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii) which are coastal orchids found from Esperance to Binningup during the months June to August.
Time to move back to the trail, so I push through some scrub and stumble across some Cyrtostylis leaves. Upon closer inspection they have orchid buds around 2-3 cm in height, so flowering is not too far away. Will have to inspect later to confirm if they are Mosquito or Midge orchids.
Further along the track on the edge of the vegetation I find more Caladenia leaves, which is exciting for the season ahead. As I get closer to the golf course road the edge of the trail gets overrun in weeds, though some more Caladenia leaves are found in the less overrun areas.
Upon reaching the road I turn back and discover a Redbeak orchid leaf in the road base of the trail edge. Quickly looked for more but only the one leaf found. Made it back to the start of my trek with no other finds, so I decide to quickly check the trail in the other direction.
Checking the non-lake side of the track I find some more small Caladenia leaves where the trail heads down to the Eleven Mile Beach Road. However I head up a slope into the scrub for one final look. Banded greenhoods in flower are found which is great, followed up by more leaves. Time to leave as I have a Birthday BBQ to get to by 5pm and it is already after 4pm.
This location looks as though if may become a regular haunt for us given the number of leaves etc found on this one quick visit. Maybe next weekend I’ll bring Deb along as the Shell and Mosquito/midge orchids may be flowering. If not the Caladenia orchids will require a later revisit anyways.
Debbie has a shift this afternoon so I decide to go exploring near the Rotary lookout (Mud Map SE34) at Dempster Head in Esperance, as the weather is quiet nice. Parking up at the lookout I head towards the port and discover new markings for walk trails. Following the trail with a blue colour and Cowslip orchid markings, I discover no orchids in flower until I am way past the water tanks and walking the gravel trail toward Lovers Cove. It was along here I finally discovered some white bunny orchids in flower.
From the stem leaf shape and size, they appear to be the White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) which is a common orchid found in coastal areas from Dirk Hartog Island to Israelite Bay. They flower from as early as March through to May, with up to 7 flowers per stem which can reach up to 350mm in length.
After exploring right down to Lovers Cove and back up no other orchids were found. So I decide to call it quits after 1hr of exploring, happy with my finds but hanging out for more variety on the next hunt.