13/08/2021 ….. Esperance to the Jam Patch, Nth Lake Grace

Esperance, Nature Reserves, South Buniche NR, Western Australian Orchids, Wind Farm

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.

08/08/2021 ….. Sunday afternoon coastal cache

Esperance, Western Australian Orchids, Wind Farm

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.

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.