Waking up a bit better than expected after a heavy night socialising we enjoy a cooked breakfast then thanking our hostess, Sandy, we head off to catch up with family for the day. After spending the day with family, we head off from Deb’s brother’s place in Attadale around 3pm and make our way north. At 5.30 we pull into Caltex at Cataby where we enjoy a huge roast dinner, before heading up to Lake Indoon where we set up the camper and have a good nights sleep.
Waking up to a crisp morning I take a quick check down the track we had parked near. I spied a couple of nice White spider orchids so went back to have breakfast feeling blessed to be in the great outdoors with orchids waiting to be found. There are many campers at Lake Indoon however not to many seem to be looking in the bush so when we finally head off on our hunt, we do so in peace. (Mud Map N 13a, 13b)
I immediately head back to my White spider orchids whilst Deb finds a great patch of Cowslips (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). The spotted markings pointed to the Kalbarri cowslips orchids but the red lines and southerly location do not support this, unfortunately.
Now my White spider orchids could be one of 3 sub-species found in our current location. Ok so I believe some of the White spider orchids found were Daddy long-legs white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. borealis) due to the labellum having very long fringe segments.
Others seem to be Coastal white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. calcigena) due the the labellum calli moving out of rows into irregular agglomerations. The labellum is relatively narrow which is very evident in a hypochromic specimen found.
The third sub species found in this location is the Small-lipped white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. albella) which is similar but smaller to Daddy long-legs, however prefers damper situations and has been known to grow with the base of the stem in water.
All 3 subspecies flower during September and include Eneabba or thereabouts in their listed distributions, so I am happy to believe I found all 3 this time round.
Back in 2016 we paid Lake Indoon our first visit and an unusual orchid was found everywhere, however we were getting worried we missed it this time. However the Arrowsmith spider orchid (Calaedenia crebra) starts to show itself finally. These orchids flower in August and September, in limited near coastal locations, between Jurien Bay and Dongara.
A single Pink fairy (Caladenia latifolia) is found on the other side of the road with many more Arrowsmith and White spiders. Initially I thought it was a Pale pink fairy however they do not appear to flower this far south.
Now to top of the finds for the day the named hybrid, Northern sandplain spider orchid (Caladenia x coactescens) is also found. This is a hybrid between the Arrowsmith spider orchid and the White spider orchid. My references name the White spider orchid parent as Caladenia borealis. Back on the south of the road we stumble across 3 more hybrid flowers, which is amazing.
We now head back to the camper to pack up, as we left it set up to dry completely in the sun, due to it still being damp in the morning when we left for our exploration. Just after 10am we leave camp but get no further than a few kms down the road at the Lake Logue Nature Reserve. (Mud Map N 11) Walking north of the Coolimba Eneabba Road along a track, Debs heads east and I head west.
I come across Cowslips and nothing else, which is untrue, the wildflowers are beautiful just no other orchid species. Deb on the other hand finds Cowslips and some Donkey orchids. They appear to be Arrowsmith pansy orchids (Diuris tinkeri) which flower late July to late September in a northerly range from Yanchep to Geraldton. They do not have the stated purple colouring though, so I may be incorrect. Moving back over the road, near where we parked Deb finds some more donkey orchids.
We now move on to the very eastern boundary of the Nature reserve and turn south down Erindoon Road. (Mud Map N 10) Pulling up on the edge of the road we check the western side of the road and find more cowslips. First found are the standard cowslip, however some small ones that appear to be Kalbarri cowslips (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata) are also found. The spotted markings on the flower are not random but in distinct lines so unfortunately they appear to be the standard cowslips as well.
Moving further south we stop at a creek crossing, dry of course, to see what may be around. Only found further cowslips and a beautiful Green Jewell beetle (Stigmodera gratiosa) on a Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) plant.
Next stop is the intersection of Brand Highway and the Eneabba Three Springs Road. This is an un-named Nature Reserve where we find more cowslips and better coloured Arrowsmith pansy orchids. Now time to find somewhere nice to have lunch.
Along the Eneabba Three Springs Road we pull into the Depot Hill Nature Reserve for lunch. Of course we also go exploring. Well this was a great idea as we come across numerous spider orchids. Now all I have to do is identify them. My first find was a Caladenia longicauda sp. whilst Deb finds a spider orchid from the filamentosa complex.
The orchid found by Deb appears to be the Yellow spider orchid (Caladenia denticulata subsp. denticulata) which flowers August to early October in locations from Waroona and Eneabba. This subspecies is a pale yellow-green coloured flower with white red striped relatively narrow labellum.
Harder to ID is the White spider orchid. Seem to be more Small-lipped white spider orchids however the situation does not appear to be overly damp so may actually be Daddy long-legs or Coastal white spider orchids. Many others found over this location which could be either species. All 3 possible sub-species have been named below. Please correct my identification if incorrect.
Many other Yellow spider orchids were found along the way . Some may be other species so again please correct me if I am incorrect with my identification.
A non spider orchid was finally found. The bright yellow Cowslip orchid is found, however only the one. Heading downhill, back towards the Triton a Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) yet to fully open is located.
Then a lone donkey orchid is found. It was nearly missed as it is so small. The Wild Orchid Watch colour/size card and 5 cent piece are used for size appreciation. Also measured the height of the orchid, which was 150mm. The reflexed dorsal sepal , prominently crossed lateral sepals and lateral lobes much smaller than the mid lobe of the labellum are distinctive features that unfortunately do not assist in identifying this little orchid..
Back at the Triton we sit down and have a bite to eat before moving east towards Three Springs. On the way we skirt into Dookanooka Nature Reserve, but no orchids were spied from the Triton so we just keeping driving. As we do not need to stop, we drive straight through Three Springs, but then decide to check out the Talc mine. This mine is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and 2nd most productive in the world.
Time keeps slipping away as as it is now after 3pm we make tracks for our planned overnight stay. Passing through Perenjori we head south to the Perenjori-Rothsay Road where we pull over to ring up and book our campsite at Charles Darwin Reserve. Unfortunately we are unable to book a site without an EPIRB, Satellite Phone or HF Radio. Now what will we do, as this was a planned stop for a couple of nights. Checking the good old Hema Map book, we find a camping ground only 14kms south called Caron Dam Reserve, so off we head.
The camping ground is very sparse, with little shade so we park up close to the dam and set up the camper. It may prove a noisy night as we are only 100 metres or so off the Mullewa-Wubin Road. Now time to go exploring this historic site. First up we discover a spent spider orchid then a great patch of donkey orchids. The spider orchid appears to be the Perenjori spider orchid (Caladenia remota subsp. parva) which flowers from August to mid-September in a limited range from Wubin to Perenjori. The main feature that should confirm the identification are petals being back-swept and elevated basally. Further specimens are found including those with petals barely elevated basally. These may be another species.
The group of donkey orchids appear to be Pale donkey orchids (Diuris pallescens) which flower late-August to late-September between Moora and Mingenew. Reference to Atlas of Living Australia though indicate sightings south of Perenjori which agrees with my classification. Distinctive features include erect petals, recurved apex to dorsal sepal and prominently reflexed lateral sepals which are crossed.
We make our way around the dam and head off up the feeder drain. It is in the drain that Deb comes across a snail orchid. This is the first Pterostylis orchid in quite a while. This one plus others found later appear to be the common Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which is found over a vast area from Kalbarri to Balladonia and also in NSW and SA.
Another new species for the day was found on the plains surrounding the feeder drain. A Candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta) is growing under a tree. These little orchids grow during the period, late-August to early November, over a near coastal range from Arrowsmith to Albany. Creamy-white colouring with no hint of pink confirms this classification as the other WA subspecies, Rosea, is coloured pale to deep pink.
Making our way back to camp we come across more snail, spider, donkey and candy orchids. Grabbed some pics but feel no new species were found.
Back at camp some neighbouring campers invited us to share their fire, so we enjoyed a night with company and went to bed knowing that even though our plans were thrown into disarray we still had a awesome day in the great outdoors exploring for orchids. At least 14 species/sub-species found which is wonderful.