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.

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 !!

Granite outcrops bloom with orchid flowers in April

Day Trip, Dempster Head, Road Trip

04/04/2020

We head NE of Esperance today to see if we can find the elusive Hare orchid, which we did not locate in March. At our usual spot on Wittenoom Road we pull over and check around. First up we find another of the White bunny orchids. This time we have located the Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus).

As the name suggests the leaf has undulated margins. This orchid is located from Northampton to east of Esperance and can grow to 250mm in height.

Further into our search the elusive Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) turned up. So happy that we have now found the quartet of species for the start of the season in the Esperance area.

Leporella is a monotypic genus which is found from southern Victoria to Western Australia. In WA the Hare orchids are found from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.




10/04/2020

Today we head to another regular location to the east of Esperance; Coolinup Road which has increased in size due to previous explorations. Today we decide to check on the location we discovered last season.

Along the track in we are eagle eyed for orchids, however none were found before we reached the granite rock clearing. In the clearing we found many white bunny orchids that had finished flowering. Luckily there were still some in bloom.

The White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) is found growing in the moss under the protection of a hakea bush in the shallow soil on the granite rocks.

These orchids are found between Dirk Hartog Island and Israelite Bay during the months of March, April and May and can grow to 350mm in height.

#wildorchidwatch

Many other White bunny orchids are found before Deb comes across a small drove of Hare orchids. Only one of which is in flower. Each orchid may have up to 3 flowers with pairs fairly common.

#wildorchidwatch

27/04/2020

Today I visit Dempster Head which is a shire reserve that overlooks Esperance Bay and First and West beaches. (Mud Map SE 34). First up I located some White bunny orchids growing alongside the track below the water tanks.

The size and shape of their leaves attest to my identification. With a length of 40 to 100mm and width of 5 to 18mm, the leaf of the White bunny orchid is by far the largest of the bunny orchids growing in the Esperance area.

#wildorchidwatch

Later on the granite rocks above Lovers Beach another small bunny orchid is found growing in the moss and lichen.

The Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) as the name suggests is found growing in shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops from Esperance to Balladonia and Northcliffe to Bremer Bay, with a disjunct population in the Darling Scarp.

The flowering season is over April and May with plants producing up to 10 flowers. It has a short stature of up to 150mm and produces a small smooth leaf only 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8mm in width.

Very happy to have found during the month of April, the 3 bunny orchid types, that flower in the Esperance area.

Queens Birthday quest

Dempster Head, Esperance

24/09/2018

Today is a public holiday to celebrate the Queens Birthday in WA, however Debbie has to start her overnight shift at 2.00pm, so my dilema is what to do on a lonely afternoon when the weather is fine. 

Go orchid hunting of course!! 

Location ?

Dempster Head it is, as my last visit was back in late July. (Mud Map SE34 )

Leaving the car at the Rotary Lookout I venture towards Dempster Heads looking into the scrub alongside the granite. I then take one of the tracks made by mountain bikers, which are now banned from the Nature Reserve. My first find is a small Spectacled donkey orchid (Diuris conspicillata) which is only found around coastal granite outcrops in the Esperance area. They flower during August and September. The common name refers to the fact that the dark patches on the labellum lateral lobes are toward the centre rather than the edge, as is the case with all other donkey orchids. The scientific name, Conspicillata also means spectacled. A pair was found nearby looking like they are nearing the end of their season. So lucky to have found these to document for the first time.

So I move back towards an area that I had previously found orchids from the Pterostylis genus, hoping that there may be some late bloomers still in flower. I luckily find one small snail orchid still flowering. I have identified this one as the Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis voigtii) which is found Esperance to Israelite Bay flowering July to early September. Given the dates it is a wonder I still found one in flower.

Eastern granite snail orchid

Standing only 50mm in height.

Both orchids found so far are ones limited in range to the Esperance area, which is very special. Moving back towards the mountain bike tracks I stumble across another Esperance orchid. The Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) which does occur over a much larger area, from Fitzgerald River National Park to Cape Arid National Park during August to October.

As one of the largest spider orchids in WA it makes an impressive sight. Especially when compared to the next orchid found. I have moved over to the port side of the reserve past the Water Authority tanks. Here I found a small group of  leek orchids of the prasophyllum genus. They appear to be the Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) due to the smaller size of the flowers lateral sepals. These guys flower September to January within 100km of the coast from Dongara to Cape le Grande. This is a new find for me as we usually find the very similar Little laughing leek orchid.

I now make my way back towards the Rotary Lookout, but detour below the Water Authority tanks. This was a fortuitous choice as I stumbled across a couple of Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa). These large white spider orchids flower during September and October from Bremer Bay to Cape Arid National Park.

Nearly 5.30 in the afternoon, so I had better make tracks home. Was a very successful hunt around Dempster Head Nature Reserve, with 5 orchid species from 4 different genus found. 

2019 – So it begins

Day Trip, Dempster Head, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Road Trip

23/03/2019

Well it had to start sooner than later.

What am I talking about?

The 2019 Western Australian Orchid Season of course. Well over here in Esperance it is starting, whilst in the deep dark South West corner of the state it appears to start earlier and finish when the next one has already started. Sounds confusing I know.

However,  it is today we are going to go on our first hunt of this season. First stop is our wonderful little Esperance Bird and Animal Park for a takeaway coffee, then on to Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) which always proves fruitful. Well until today that is. 

Drove around and checked out some usual spots but only found some yet to flower White bunny orchids. The Leafless orchid and Hare orchid were elusive.

In bud

White bunny orchid

A little disappointed we leave and head a bit further north along the Esperance-Norseman Hwy to Fleming Grove Rd, where we have another site that may turn up some Hare orchids. Well so much for the Season starting. Nothing found here either. 

As we are picking up our little grandson this afternoon, we then head off to another site for one last search. We arrive at Rotary Lookout (Mud Map 34), park up, grab our picnic lunch and find a quiet spot on the granite to rest and eat lunch. 

Rested and fed, we now make our way down a small track towards the Water Authority tanks. It was along this track the Deb spies a 400mm high White bunny orchid in flower. I had walked right past it. Need to get my orchid hunting eyes into order as they must be rusty. Oh well can’t complain as our season has now officially started. The White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) flowers March to May is a large coastal range from Dirk Hartog Island to Israelite Bay. Within 2 mtrs on the other side of the track Deb spies another flowering plant that I also overlooked.

Well this is a better result, so with added enthusiasm we trudge onwards. We make our way back from the Water tanks to the walk track proper and slowly make our way around the rock. Stopping for the beautiful view before finding our way back near the start.  

No orchids but the views are to die for

Lovers Beach

Deb walks back to the Triton, while I push down the hill via more tracks in the vain hope of finding something. Nothing more found , however the season has now well and truly started.

Here’s to many fun filled, exciting adventures this year.

Pterostylis sp.

Dempster Head on a windy afternoon

Dempster Head, Esperance

29/07/2018

On a fine but windy afternoon we decide to spend a couple hours traipsing around Dempster Head (Mud Map SE34) with the hope of finding some orchids in flower. I finally find a Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) in flower, underneath an overhanging bush in the quite bushy area just above the steps from the gazebo. Not that we walked the steps, we came from the other direction 🙂 Mosquito orchids flower June to August in a range from Perth to Israelite Bay.

Back towards where the boardwalk steps down I find the wonderful little Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis voigtii) which only occurs between Esperance and Israelite Bay in the months July to early September. These are the smallest of the snail orchids in WA, reaching a height of only 50mm.

Other snail orchids and mosquito orchids found. We did not find the Shell orchids from the previous year though 😦