25/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 1

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Peak Charles NP, Red Lake Townsite NR, Weekend away, Western Australian orchids

It’s Friday before the Queens Birthday long weekend and I have taken another RDO, so as to make it extra long. A camping weekend at Peak Charles which is some 150kms or so NNW of Esperance is planned.

We pack up the Triton and camper trailer then head up to pick up Deb C. who rides shotgun with my darling Deb driving. We are taking Deb C. on her first ever trip North of Esperance. First point of call is the Esperance Bird and Animal Park for a takeaway coffee/hot chocolate and sweet slice. This was to give us energy for our first orchid hunting location, which just for a change is good old Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35).

First orchids found alongside section 21, were the wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) , the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) and the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra anennifera) which are regular finds at this location. Oddly enough they are all yellow in colour.

Then just before hopping back in the Triton Deb spies a spider orchid in the overgrown Section 21, so we all go to investigate. We discover many beautiful large Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower. The spreading petals that barely drop are a distinguishing feature when comparing them to the often co-located and similar Heberle’s spider orchid. Due to the lack of colour some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchid.

Leaving Section 21 we head straight down to the track between Sections 1 and 2. Nothing much found along this track, however upon driving further we find the Rattle Beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) growing on the edge of Section 9. No longer right on the bull ants nest, thank goodness, but about 2 metres away. Only the one in flower though which was disappointing.

We then zigzagged our way through multiple sections and found many more Esperance king spider orchids and other possible hybrids. Could not resist posting more photos of these beautiful orchids.

We also came across some much smaller orchids. The Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) for example has flowers that are only 15mm across whilst the Esperance king spider orchids can be up to 100mm.

We then checked out a patch in Section 83 to see if we could find the small spider orchids we had found in previous seasons. Prior to reaching the exact spot of the spider orchids some other orchids jump out at me. The Purple enamel orchids (Elythranthera brunonis) are so bright you cannot miss them.

And then the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) appears in it’s usual location. Only a small clump of 2 plants though is found this year. A a little further off the road are some more Lemon-scented sun orchids and Common bee orchids in flower.

Also discovered in in the reedy grass were some Elegant donkey orchids (Diuris concinna) which differ to the bee orchids in only having a small amount of brown markings at the base of the labellum. Coincidently, this species was named in 1991 from specimens collected at Helms Arboretum in 1985.

Walking back to the Triton we find more Esperance king spiders orchids and accompanying hybrids.

Moving up to Section 107 where we expect to find the magnificent Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) flowering. We were not disappointed. These orchids can be larger the the Esperance king spider orchids and as mentioned previously the two hybridise with each other to form many varied coloured specimens.

Then on the edge of Section 109 we locate some more Zebra orchids. Some are not the usual colour and the lateral sepals are not clasping the stem, so may also be hybrids.

OMG it’s 12 o’clock and we are less than 20kms into our 150km drive, so we had better get a move on. Heading north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we make a pit-stop at the Grass Patch local store. Was an interesting reception, however Deb still purchased some locally made jam and relish, plus we all enjoyed an ice-cream.

Just north of Grass Patch we pull into Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve and head down our track looking for the Frog greenhoods we have previously found here. No such luck this season however after eating our lunch and by a stroke of luck we found a lonely sun orchid just starting to bloom. As there seems to be only 2 species flowering north of Esperance I will be calling this one the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea). They flower during October and November, which would explain why we only found one starting to flower.

We finally reach the Kumarl – Lake King Rd turnoff and commence the unsealed road part of the drive to Peak Charles campground. We arrive to an all but, packed campground with only 1 uneven spot left. We decide to head head south around the rock, with the intention of finding the camping area in the Salmon Gums, however we find a track heading back towards the rock, so decide to investigate. It proves to be a dead end, however after a bit of manoeuvring we settle here as our camping spot.

We set up our camper and then the gazebo and camper stretcher for Deb C. Fire pit organised so I go for an explore up the rock. Way too steep for me in the fading light so grabbed a photo looking out over the woodlands, which I have selected as the Feature photo for this post. Time now to settle in for 3 nights camping under the stars.

Bliss!!

20/09/2020 ….. Boydell Road Bounty

Esperance, Western Australian orchids

Very windy day with some rain. Feeling a bit unwell today, so spent the morning inside. Deb went off to her work at 2pm and I fell asleep in the Lazyboy. Was woken by some really strong winds. Decided then that I can’t waste the whole day, so went out to check on the location shared by Dana S to my post of the 19/7/2020 on my Facebook Page.

Pulling up alongside the road I venture on the south side and it is not long before I stumble across some bee orchids. Over the entire location I came across many bee orchids and they appear to be two of the locally recorded species. Smaller ones with only 2 or so basal leaves seem to be the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) whilst the larger ones may be the Bee orchid (Diuris laxiflora).

Found many Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) however no decent photos obtained as they were hardly open due to the cloudy day and the wind just defeated my attempts. The best are posted for recording purposes.

The Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) starts to appear all over the location. The profile photos are great in showing how up-swept the lateral sepals are plus how the tip of the labellum tucks under.

An unexpected find was a Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans) in flower. No recent fires here so a pleasant surprise find. Also some Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) found south and north of the road.

Then near a drainage ditch on the north side of the road I find a selection of orchids in one small location. The most obvious was the Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) as there were 8 flowers in view. As I moved towards them I noticed a small Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) and whilst on my knees getting a shot I noticed the Short-sepaled spider orchids (Caladenia brevisura) hiding behind the enamel orchids.

With the light fading, wind still blowing and now being past 5pm I make tracks back home, happy in the knowledge that this new location had turned up 8 and possibly 9 orchid species.

29/07/2020 ….. Dempster Head and Myrup

Dempster Head, Esperance, Myrup, Western Australian orchids

On my planned RDO I revisit Dempster Head (Mud Map SE 34), this time in the company of my dearest Deb, who only has the morning free, due to her night shift roster. We head off in the direction of the helmet orchids and like my last visit the snail orchids are first orchids found. ID again up in the air.

Then Deb finally gets to see the little Crystal helmet orchids (Corybas limpidus) in flower at Dempster Head. We visit two of my three known locations and capture some more photos of theses small orchids.

Also found were Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) in various locations along the track. I used a nearby rock once to assist with focusing, as the overcast day made focusing on these small orchids rather difficult.

Deb then finds some shell orchids in flower… So Happy as it has been a few years since we last found them on Dempster Head. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogerii) is a southern coastal shell orchid found between Binningup and Esperance. The rosettes of unflowering orchids are commonly found with only a few orchids flowering usually located. Oddly enough flowering shell orchids lack that same rosette.

A small patch of yellow catches our eye and we are rewarded with finding the Spectacled donkey orchid (Diuris conspicillata) which is geographically restricted to coastal granite outcrops near Esperance. The dark markings on the labellum lateral lobes are said to give the orchid the impression it is wearing spectacles.

After nearly 2 hours searching for orchids it time to head home so Deb can have a rest before her shift starts at 2pm.

To get the most out of my RDO, after Deb heads off to work, I decide to go check out another location close to town. We refer to this spot as our Myrup location. Parking up just after 3pm I am shocked to find that someone had decided to dump a large amount of household rubbish in the bush, rather than pay at the Shire refuse site. Some people make you shake your head in their total disrespect for the environment. To add to this horror the Shire has also graded the road verges and widened the road so a lot of gravel and destroyed vegetation has just been pushed onto the vegetated verge.

It is right on the edge of this devastation that I come across some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) flowering in various colours. Some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchids or similar.

Across the road I come across many more in flower, with more still to come, given they are recorded as flowering from mid-August to October.

In the middle of these large bright king orchids I come across some small white spider orchids. The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) is a widespread orchid occurring between Kalbarri and Esperance. These little guys were definitely dwarfed by the large Esperance king spider orchids.

A successful RDO spent searching for orchids now comes to an end. Work tomorrow 😦

Orchids grow in amazing places

Dempster Head, Esperance, Western Australian orchids

Amazed to find these snail orchids (Pterostylis sp.) growing in the small amount of rubble on a granite boulder over 2 metres above the surrounding ground. The 1st photo below is of the boulder. The 2nd photo is zoomed in with Circle indicating position of orchids contained in video 1 and the Arrow indicates location of the 4 orchids in video 2. The 4 orchids are also the Feature Image of this post.

25/07/2020 ….. Winter Afternoon Wander

Dempster Head, Esperance, Western Australian orchids

After Deb heads of to her Saturday night shift I decide to go check out Dempster Head Reserve and see if I can finally locate the helmet orchids others have mentioned growing there. We had previously found leaves which we were unsure if they were Corybas or Cyrtostylis orchids. It will be great to answer the mystery.

Parking up at the Rotary Lookout, I walk off in the direction of the port as that is where we have found the mysterious leaves. First up though I am distracted by the many snail orchids popping up in the usual, plus very unusual, locations. Unsure of the exact species however finding some growing on the top of a boulder was a unique find.

In the known patch of mysterious leaves I am lucky enough to find a couple in flower to answer the question of what species they belong to. The Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) is confirmed as that species. These are found flowering from July till early-September over south coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. The Latin name limpidus alludes to the transparent dorsal sepal and lateral sepals which form the helmet. Further around the trail I locate flowering corybas orchids in another two locations, so I am a very happy man.

Final orchid found for the afternoon was the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) which was located right alongside the walking track. A widespread orchid found between Perth and Israelite Bay during the winter months.

Moving to the West Beach side of the reserve the orchids become few and far between and as it is now after 4:30pm I take an photo overlooking a pool of water with views in the background of West Beach. A calming shot to end an enjoyable few hours on a winters’ Saturday afternoon.

20/07/2020 ….. R.D.O. Ramble to Ravensthorpe

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Day Trip, Esperance, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Pink Lake, Springdale NR, Stokes NP, Western Australian orchids

I have taken an Rostered Day Off (RDO) today so I can spend some more time with my sister Lorraine and her hubby Ken. Yesterday we went north of the South Coast Hwy and detoured back east of Esperance. Today we are going west and staying within 50kms of the coast.

Our first point of call is along the edge of our famous Pink Lake. Here we discover some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing in the dense undergrowth. These unusual orchids flower during the winter months over an area stretching from Perth to Israelite Bay.

Nothing more found other than Pterostylis rosettes, with some in bud, so we move onwards. Next stop is the Stokes National Park camping grounds. Actually we find orchids before the campground, just growing along the roadside. First up are some wispy type spider orchids. Due to the colouring of the flowers and the larger leaf width, I believe these orchids to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians). As the name suggests it is a common orchid with a large distribution, Kalbarri to Cape Arid National Park. It also has a long season, flowering from July to mid-October.

Intermixed with the spider orchids were patches of yellow. Bright yellow South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) are found from Denmark to Munglinup during the winter months. They were first recognised as distinct in 1999 when collected near Munglinup, which is approximately 20kms to the west of our current location.

We finally make it to the campground and it was a let down with only a Dark Banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) in flower and a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) finished for it’s season. We did however stop and have morning tea overlooking the Stokes Inlet.

We move on further west along the South Coast Hwy, before turning south down Springdale Road. We pullover to the side of the road at Springdale Nature Reserve for a quick check. Straight away we find the Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta) which blooms from late-July till mid-October between Bindoon and Esperance. Prominently clubbed petals and sepals ,plus the dark red labellum with dark red calli are distinctive features.

Also found were the South coast donkey orchids, with many more to come. However we must push on as it is now past lunch time and we still have Munglinup Beach campground to check out.

Well first up we drive down to the Oldfield River and park up on the granite rock bank, so we can have a quick scout around. Other than one South coast donkey orchid and many leaves in bud, nothing much was found so we quickly move on.

We now venture down to the Munglinup Beach campground (Mud Map SE 33) and I go looking for the elusive helmet orchid, whilst Deb takes Lorraine and Ken down to the beach. I come across loads of leaves and then find some sprouting flowers, however they are not fully open. By this time Deb has made her way into the Agonis flexuosa grove and we both simultaneously find fully open ones in different patches. They are confirmed as being the Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flowers from July to early-September in coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. We had to lie flat on the ground to get the photos as they are only 20mm in height.

Very happy to have found these beautiful small orchids flowering as they are listed for the Mud Map reference. Also found underneath the Agonis flexuosa trees are snail orchids. They appear to be the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) which is found between Bremer Bay and Israelite Bay during the months of July and August. Distinctive features are bloated appearance and small thickened lateral sepals.

Leaving Munglinup Beach we now drive west towards Hopetoun our planned lunch stop. On the way we check out both Starvation Bay and Masons Bay campgrounds. Choosing the bakery for lunch we walk down to the foreshore and finally fill our bellies.

We now head north to Ravensthorpe where we grabbed a ginger ice-cream from Yummylicious Candy Shack. Sooooo good!! After showing Lorraine and Ken the Grain Silo’s, we head west out to Kukenarup Memorial, one of our regular orchid haunts.

Just past the Eagle Wings to the left is a wonderful little Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) which is found between Israelite Bay and Kalbarri flowering during August, September and October.

Next up we find the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which flowers over along season, May till October. They can occupy many different habitats, (woodlands, shrublands, granite outcrops and forests) over a range from Israelite Bay to the Murchison River. Many specimens are found at this location today.

On the return leg of the trail we find some donkey orchids. As mentioned in the Esperance Wildflowers blog (refer links) the Green Range and South coast donkey orchids overlap in their distribution and have very similar features which makes identifying them so much harder. I will call those found today South coast donkey orchids as the labellum mid lobe has light patches on the edges. However I am open to correction.

Final orchid for the day was the reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which occurs between Geraldton and Israelite Bay from August to October. As it is now past 5pm the light is fading fast, so the pics are not the best, however they still record the finding.

From here it is a quick dash to the lookout on Mt Desmond, east of Ravensthorpe, to catch the sunset. Another wonderful day showing Lorraine and Ken our beautiful SE coast and surrounds.

12/07/2020 ….. Helms in July

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian orchids

What better way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday that to check out Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) for any orchids that may be flowering. Before the search though we stock up on energy by having a cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park.

The first orchid found was the ever reliable Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which occurs over a lengthy period (April to Sept) over a wide distribution (Perth to Balladonia). Fairly coastal east of Albany, whilst further inland it is replaced by either the Dark Banded Greenhood or recently named Mallee Banded Greenhood. In fact the distributions of these orchids overlap in places, as confirmed by finding a small Mallee Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) at Helms. These orchids are recorded as growing between Northampton and Eyre during the season June to September, over mainly inland locations.

Moving on to another section of the Arboretum we come across Snail orchids in varying stages of flowering. Naming Snail orchids is always difficult especially when some found in previous years at Helms have remained un-named. The pictures below I feel are of two different species. One is the common Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) which flowers from June to September over a large range between Kalbarri and Balladonia. The other smaller snail orchid has, shorter lateral sepals, only 2 stem leaves, a rosette of quite rounded leaves plus does not have a hairy stem. It will remain un-named again this year.

Well not much happening at Helms this time. I trust we will visit again sometime this season and I look forward to a greater variety of orchids. Until next time!!!

11/07/2020 ….. Quick check at Dempster Head

Dempster Head, Esperance

Time to visit one of our regular haunts. Dempster Head, sometimes referred to as Rotary Lookout, which is an Esperance Shire Reserve that aims to protect a granite headland. As you can imagine the views from the lookout provide a 360 degree view of the Esperance town, bay and beaches.

We however check out some of the areas off the beaten track, so to speak, and are usually rewarded with orchids. Today proves no exception. We head to where we have found Corybas leaves in previous years. We hope they are flowering as their recorded season is July to early September. We find the leaves as expected and they are in bud, which is exciting, however none in flower were found. A return visit later in the season will be required.

Next up we head back to the walk trail as we have previously found Mosquito orchids. It appears we may be too early for these as well, due to the first location only having orchids in bud as well. However at another spot on the track we find a lone orchid in flower, with 2 flowers fully developed. Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) flower June to August in locations between Perth and Israelite Bay and can have up to 8 flowers per orchid.

Further around the track we come across a Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) with numerous flowers. These are common orchids found from Perth to Balladonia, which flower from April to September. Also found are some Snail orchids which have yet to fully form so I will not attempt to name them at this stage.

Not a lot flowering yet, so we will need to return at a later date to see if we are more successful. Until next time !!

14/06/2020….. Helms in winter

Esperance, Helms Arboretum

Debbie has started work today at 2pm, so rather than hang around home alone, I take the opportunity to visit Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). Along the boundary of sites 7, 9 and 12, I come across some decent Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which are known to grow up to 450mm in height and can have an inflorescence of up to 25 flowers. In the afternoon sunlight the colours come up magnificently. One of the orchids had a little spider with its food catch, however my photo of it is not too clear.

The afternoon sun was sinking quickly so I headed to the road I’ve marked X and went for a walk through the low scrub, looking for a particular orchid I had found here on previous seasons. After walking around for 10 mins or so I was starting to lose hope, when suddenly a small patch of white catches my eye and low and behold I found the Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium). These orchids flower from June to August, so how they got the name Autumn leek orchid alludes me. They range from Eneabba to Mt Ragged and can grow to 400mm in height. The plants I found appear to have the reddish stripes of P. parvifolium however P. sp.’early’ is also found in the area. Known as the Scented autumn leek orchid it lacks the red stripes and actually flowers in autumn, April to June. The scent of each differ as well, but I could not smell anything, even when head down bum up. Please provide your thoughts on the ID and I will edit my post if need be.

Its now after 4pm and the sun is setting behind the grey clouds, so time to head home. Not much happening at Helms in this first month of winter but we all no that will change as the season progresses.