11/07/2021 ….. Sunday afternoon, Shell orchid hunt

Esperance, Pink Lake, Wind Farm

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.

View from 10 Mile Lagoon Windfarm

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.

27/06/2021 ….. Pink Lake Lookout

Esperance, Pink Lake, Western Australian Orchids

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.

Many many grasstrees to push through

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.

Cyrtostylis sp. in bub

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.

Redbeak leaf

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.

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.