04/07/2021 ….. North-eastern adventure

Burdett South NR, Day Trip, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Mount Burdett NR, Nature Reserves, Western Australian Orchids

On a cold winters day, what better to do than go exploring for orchids!! We must be mad. With grey clouds and the possibility of rain, we head north to check out the northern boundary of Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). We wish to see how far the Southern Curly Locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) have progressed. We locate some of the spiral leaves but not in the same numbers as previous years, which is disappointing considering the great start to the season, weather wise. Another orchid found was a spent Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum Sp. ‘early’) which flower April to June, hence this orchid being finished for the season.

Nothing else found so we move eastwards to Dempster Road via Gibson Road then turn into Wittenoom Road. Rather than check out the blue metal dump which is one of our regular haunts we move further north and check out the old gravel pit near Scaddan Road. First up growing in the pushed back road verge we find some banded greenhoods. As they vary in colour they may be different species. Other specimens are found further afield so I am confident the larger greenish ones are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the smaller brownish ones are the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). Both flower during July and are shown as appearing in the Esperance region.

Then a wonderful patch of snail orchids being watched by a large fungi is found. From the rosettes and colouring of the snail orchids I believe they are Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi). These small guys flower from July to September over an easterly distribution including Esperance.

We now move on further north and venture up a track that leads into Mount Burdett Nature Reserve. Further Brittle snail orchids are found or are they the similar Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are of smaller stature with shorter lateral sepals but fatter appearance.

Whilst we are taking photos of the snail orchids another 5 cars drive past on the track, so we decide to turn around and head to Mt Burdett (Mud Map SE36) for a detailed search. We reach our parking spot at the base of the granite rock an immediately find some greenhoods. From the height of the plants and the number of dark coloured flowers I believe they are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September over a large range from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove.

Nearby found a lone Banded greenhood and then looking around some large snail orchids come into view. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) which are distinctive, in that when flowering they lack a rosette.

I think the next snail orchid found is definitely a Fawn snail orchid as it is short statured , has bloated flowers and the rosettes have blue-green pointed leaves. The snail orchids are sharing the bright green moss with another small orchid as well. The Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber) flowers early July, so these are on time as they are just starting to open. These little orchids are unique in that their flowering and non-flowering leaves differ in appearance.

Moving further up the rocky mount, we come across a patch of Mallee banded greenhoods which are similar to the Dark banded greenhoods but have less flowers and are shorter in stature.

We finally make it up to the summit, so to speak. We are excited to find a nice patch of shell orchids in flower. The Green-veined shell orchid (Pterostylis scabra) are a common inland shell orchid flowering over a huge range, Kalbarri to Esperance, during the months of May to August. They grow in varied habitats of woodlands and shrublands to shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops. The later describes our location.

Moving down the mount back to the Triton we come across more Fawn snail orchids. Nothing more so we move on in a south easterly direction this time.

So driving down Greens Road we notice a track leading into the Burdett South Nature Reserve. Quick check of Google Maps and we decide to check it out. It is quite overgrown so we end up walking mostly. Lucky find of a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) as they finish their season in June.

We come to a salt lake that provides a great backdrop for our obligatory “Selfie”, however the only other orchids found in flower where the good old Banded greenhood, plus a snail orchid with its hood eaten off. Rosette of stalked pointed leaves, leads me to name it the Brittle snail orchid.

Well it’s now 3.45pm so we decide to walk back to the Triton for the drive home. It was a very cold day however we found some great orchids and enjoyed the fresh air.

Weekend Wandering

Day Trip, Mount Burdett NR, Nature Reserves

27/07/2019

After enjoying a wonderful breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park we take our grandson Ollie out to play on some blue metal mountains along Wittenoon road. We have previously found orchids at the site so it is a dual purpose visit.

First up Ollie and myself play in and on the blue metal mountains whilst Deb has a quick scout around. Not much found so she takes a few photos with her iPhone of the Western wispy spider orchids I found last visit and some of us playing.

Next  it’s time for Nanna (Deb) to climb the mountain with Ollie and my time for searching. I am fortunate enough to find 5 different species in a quick search:

Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata), Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila), Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) & Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis).

Not a very productive day today, as it was hard to search with the wonderful distraction of our grandson.

28/07/2019

After wetting our appetite yesterday, we head out again to broaden our search. A quick stop at the Wittenoom Road site provides more Green Range donkey orchids and Blue Beards.

We move further north to Mount Burdett where we go on a more thorough search. Straight away we find some Banded greenhoods and Brittle snail orchids.

Then on closer inspection some of the snail orchids appear to be a different species. They are the closely related Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are smaller in stature, have plumper flowers and shorter, thicker lateral sepals. They flower between Southern Cross and Israelite Bay during the months June to August.

Whilst I’m still grabbing photos Deb yelps as she encounters a snake in her path. I make a wide berth around the area and by the time I catch up to her she has located another species of snail orchid. This time they are Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) which unlike other snail orchids do not have a rosette of leaves when flowering. They are easily identified by this and differ to the Brittle and Fawn snail orchids by having numerous stem leaves. These flower between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during the months May through to August.

Then very close by in a bright green patch of moss Deb spies a little speck of pink. Wowsers, she has stumbled across some Pink bunny orchids (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber) which are found between Jurien Bay and Cape Arid National Park during the months July through September. An unusual feature of theses orchids is the leaves differ between flowering and non-flowering plants. How lucky are we to find such small orchids. These ones were no more than 40mm in height.

Another common orchid for the season is discovered which I grab a photo of to record our findings. The newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscular) was at it’s maximum height of 150mm but has few flowers when compared to the similar Dark banded greenhood. Inland distribution between Northampton and Eyre, flowering June to early September.

Moving up and over the granite, we make it to the so called summit and there we locate a couple of Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra). These orchids are found between Kalbarri and Esperance between the months May to August. They are known for their inland distribution and can be found on granite outcrops.

Nearby a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) is found standing tall all alone on the granite. These orchids flower July to September in a restricted range between Salmon Gums , Esperance and Balladonia. They have a very distinctive coloured tri-lobed labellum

Another donkey orchid is found, however it is not another Beautiful donkey orchid. Due to being located on granite it could be the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) however it does not have recurved later sepals. So it could be the hybrid between these two orchids (Diuris pulchella x D. hazeliae).

Many more snail orchids found on the way back to the car. No more Fawn snails orchids found which was disappointing.

For lunch we move on to Mount Ridley. On the track in the first orchid found was another Mallee banded greenhood then a lonely snail orchid was found right on the edge of the track at the base of a tree. I believe it to be a Brittle sail orchid.

After refilling ourselves with lunch we head off up the granite rock in search of orchids. First orchid found was a Banded greenhood, followed by Mallee banded greenhoods and finally some Yellow granite donkey orchids (Diuris hazeliae) which occurs between Paynes Find and Balladonia in an inland range during the months August and September. There are many just budding up but we were lucky enough to find some early flowering ones. Also found were some yet to bloom Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which are also an inland orchid found between Northampton and Grass Patch during July to October.

Unfortunately a storm moved in very quickly and we got caught in a downpour. Trying to shelter under some bushes I spy a Brittle snail orchid so grab a photo of him dripping wet. Once the 10 minute downpour had finished we very carefully climbed back down to the Triton, so as not to slip and injure ourselves.

Rather than back track we decide to take the scenic road home via Grass Patch. Even though we are wet through it was a decent orchid hunt today. 12 different species found and 1 hybrid.

July now comes to an end. Roll on August, to end a great winter season for orchids.  

Solo search East

Day Trip, Mount Burdett NR, Nature Reserves, Road Trip

12/05/2019

So after a lazy morning I head out to Mount Burdett Nature Reserve (Mud Map SE 36) to have a scout around.  Parking up on the rock,  I have a bite of lunch before heading off on my search.  Within 2m of the Triton I find my first White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) growing up through a shrub.  To get into the light the orchid has grown to 350mm in height, which is the maximium by my reference book. The smooth, relatively narrow leaf confirms the classification.

Then right at the edge of the rock I find a very small version of the White bunny orchid. Measuring only 55mm in height. However given it’s size and size of the leaf I am now of the opinion this it is in fact a Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) which grows, as the name suggests, on granite outcrops, of which Mt Burdett is one.  These little fellows flower April and May and occur in the Perth hills, between Northcliffe and Bremmer Bay and between Esperance and Balladonia. Proceeding around the base of the rock I find many more bunny orchids, which vary in height and number of flowers per stem.

Just as I was about to accept that the only orchids to be found today would be bunny orchids, an orchid of differing colours catches my eye. You little beauty, I have found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) which flower March to June from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. These guys are cute little orchids with erect ears and a beard. Within 2 m of the first 2 I found a grouping of 4. Very happy!!

It is now just past 1pm and I have found myself on the opposite side of the granite outcrop to where I had parked the Triton, so I had better start heading back. I won’t backtrack though, but climb up to the phone towers and then take the usual track back to the Triton. Pushing through scrub I did not find anything else other than the occasional bunny orchid.  I did however come across the biggest meat ant nest I have ever seen. 

Massive meat ant nest

Size comparison to my drink bottle

Heading back down the rock from the summit I come across another White bunny orchid as well as many Granite bunny orchids. Due to the time though I cut my photo taking time down as I need to get to the airport to pick Debbie up, on her flight home from Perth.

Happy to have found the Hare orchid today. This now completes the species found for the month of May to the four known for my area.

Eriochilus – White bunny orchids 

Leporella – Hare orchid

Corunastylis – Pygmy orchid

Praecoxanthus – Leafless orchid