Well after enjoying our 2nd night at the Stirling Range Retreat, we pack up and head out on our exploration of the Stirling Range National Park. We plan on taking the Stirling Range Drive to Red Gum Pass Road, then north to Salt River Road. Then heading east to Formby Road South where we will head north to Gnowangerup. Obviously we plan on making numerous stops to explore for orchids and to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.
First up we head into Bluff Knoll Road to check out the orchids in one further location. Maybe we will find something different without the threat of rain hanging over our heads. Not surprisingly, the orchids found were the same as the ones found yesterday, but photos were taken again of course.
Nearly 10am, so we make tracks toward our next location. On Stirling Range Drive, we make a split second decision to pull over on the side of the road. We manage to find a few orchids on the side of the road.
We jump back in the Triton and move a few hundred metres down the road before stopping at a spot that had seen a bushfire some time in the last year. Let us see if this has triggered orchids to grow for us to find.
Now it nearly 11am so onwards we travel, with our next stop being Talyuberlup Picnic Area. First up we check the picnic area side of the road then we head up the Talyuberlup Peak trail a wee bit, before scrambling back to the triton. As we had hoped, orchids are found.
Time to consider lunch, so we move onwards to White Gum Flat picnic area. We have a bite to eat and then go exploring the nearby area. We don’t venture to far before we find orchids. This time round we actually cross the road and find further orchids including new ones for the day. Turns out the King spider orchid is a new species for us, so that was an exciting find.
Still more of this National Park to check out so onwards we go. At the intersection of Red Gum Pass Road we turn left and check out some locations along the roadside. We found a few orchids including some new ones for the day.
We now head north along Red Gum Pass Road and make a quick stop into the picnic area, where we find a few orchids but move further north to another road side location where orchids are located as well.
We eventually reach Salt River Road and turn right. However we soon pull over at Salt Lake Nature Reserve for an explore, but after a quick check not much is located so we move on to Camel Lake Nature Reserve, with a road side stop along the way. At this final stop we are lucky to find some new orchid species for the day as well as previously found ones. Photos of all those found at the locations along the way were taken to record their discovery near the northern boundary of the National Park.
Wowsers, they were amazing first time locations for orchids. 13 possible species and 1 hybrid found, however we must move on as it’s past 4.30pm and we still have nearly 50kms to our planned destination. We arrive at Chirelillup Nature Reserve, set up camp and whilst Deb lights the campfire I have a very quick scout around in the waning sunlight.
We awake to a cold , wet and miserable day, but we won’t let that stop us from going exploring for orchids. Finally the rain stops, so after a bite of lunch, we head up to the Bluff Knoll lookout however the actual mountain is nearly covered in clouds. The feature picture show some of the amazing metal artwork installed there. Some close-up images are included here for your appreciation.
So now is the time to commence our exploration of the area. We have a very quick scout around the lookout and parking area, where we see a few orchids. However on the drive into the lookout we saw some possible spots to check out along the roadside. So it is at these couple of stops, in between showers, that we locate the following orchids.
It’s now past 2.30pm so we only have a few hours of daylight left to explore, so we will keep close to our base. Therefore we make tracks north of the National Park, to visit the nearby Formby Nature Reserve, which weirdly is still signposted as the Mabinup Creek Nature Reserve. The northern boundary of the park is found to be very weedy and the creek is overflowing, which does not thrill us too much. So we head back down Formby Road South and venture in on the eastern boundary. Next time we need to pack wellington boots as the place is flooded, but we venture in nonetheless, after applying insect repellent, as the mozzies may become troublesome. This place proves to be covered in orchids in large numbers and many species, which is amazing to us. Refer the following images of the orchids found.
I just had to pop in some photos to show how many orchids were at this location as well as the ones we found swimming.
It is now after 4.30 so we head back toward our base at the Stirling Range Retreat, but as per usual we make one more stop. We pull off the road before the Mount Trio turn-off and head down this gravel track. This is a new location for us in the park and it proves to be quite fruitful. Our quick stop though runs into another hour. Luckily the rain holds off. Here is what we found.
With the light running out fast we do a u-turn, head back to Formsby Road South and make tracks for our little cabin. What an amazing afternoon of orchid hunting we have had today, especially given the cold and wet morning we awoke to. I think we found 23 species and at least 3 hybrids which is mind blowing but this National Park and it’s surrounding are like an oasis in the middle of cleared land for agriculture.
After spending a wonderful night with our gracious hosts we pass through Dinninup and head down Six Mile Road and make our first stop at Six Mile Road Nature Reserve.
The ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is the first orchid found. These are a common orchid occurring over a wide range, from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. It is a unique species in the Pterostylis genus so has not been included in any of the 5 complexes. Other common names include the Bull orchid, Antelope orchid and Recurved shell orchid.
Very soon after the equally reliable Little Pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found. They are commonly found growing in clumps and are distinguished from the Pink fairy by having a purplish/red colouring to the underside of their leaf, rather than green. Also quite a widespread orchid with populations found from Northampton To Esperance
Then another stunning orchid is found. The Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) which flowers between Jurien Bay and Esperance, is quite the stunner. The spotted labellum is very distinctive and the flowers can be up to 40mm in width, which are large enough to stand out in the bush.
Next found are numerous donkey orchids. These orchids are very difficult to identify due to all species being very similar in appearance plus many overlap in their distributions. Any help in identifying these orchids would be appreciated.
Leaving this Nature Reserve we move on, to who knows where as we are just winging our stops by using the Hema map book and Google maps. We locate a patch of bush, which is signposted as the Mickalurrup Nature Reserve but I cannot locate any reference to it online other than as a hotspot in eBird, so its location at the intersection of Westbourne Road is my only location detail for reference purposes.
A quick inspection does not turn up much. Some more donkey orchids (un-named), a Little pink fairy and some snail orchids (un-named). So onwards we go as it is now past 11am
Next stop is further south at the location Heartlea forest settlement, which is located in the Greater Kingston National Park. We head off with low expectations given the finds so far today, but are blown away by finding a brand new species for us. 🙂
The Little pink fan orchid (Caladenia nana subsp. nana) is a small orchid that flowers between Perth and Bremer Bay, in forest and woodland habitats. Being so small we struggled to get any decent pics but will share them anyways.
Other orchids found here were more Little pink fairies, donkey orchids (unnamed) and a Silky blue orchid.
Then just as we were leaving this spot a single spider orchid is spotted. From the options available for the range and colourings I believe it is a Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) which flowers in September & October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Boyup Brook.
As our planned destination for the day is still some 200kms away and it now 12.30, we return to the road. As is usual for us we don’t make it far before stopping to have a quick look around, this time at a layby near Tonebridge.
We again find some donkey orchids which I will not attempt to ID, but more excitingly we come across some more spider orchids. Theses appear different to the one found earlier and are most likely the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila)which is pale yellow to creamy yellow in colour with basally backswept petals.
Next stop is Unicup Lake which is located in the Unicup Nature Reserve. It appears a Water Ski club used to exist here, as there is an old tin shed still in existence. We have lunch here before exploring the nearby area for orchids.
First up the Little pink fairy is found followed up by Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii)and some more Snail orchids (unnamed). The round, green, ground hugging leaves of the Midge orchid are found in great numbers however as the midge orchid flowers are very well camouflaged, you need to stand still and look closely to see them.
A very exciting find is the Crab-lipped spider orchid (Caladenia plicata)which I believe is a new species for us. This little orchid flowers from September to early November in woodlands, forests and Mallee-heaths. Located between Nannup and Hopetoun, this orchid reaches up to only 350mm in height and is distinguished by it’s unusual shaped labellum and spreading fringe segments.
With further searching we find more orchids but nothing really new for the day. Snail orchids are found but naming them is just too difficult so if you have any idea of their identification, please comment on this post. Also some Corybas sp. leaves were found with some showing old withered flowers.
As we need to keep moving we head back to the Triton and hit the road again. We only get as far as Kulunilup Nature Reserve before pulling over to the side of the road. On a quick check nothing is found so we move on. Further along a bit we pull off the road at Kenny’s Tank which is located in the Warrenup Nature Reserve and take the 5 min walk towards the tank. However we are beaten back by the swarms of mozzies but do find loads of orchids, which is great.
First orchids discovered were donkeys orchids, however naming these is also difficult. Using Florabase and Atlas of Living Australia they may be one of 2 species. (D. corymbosa or D. porrifolia). Nearby the donkey orchids was the old faithful Jug orchid.
The large white spider orchids then start appearing in numbers as do the mozzies. As none are founds in clumps and based on the location I feel they are the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda). Listed in Florabase as being found in the Cranbrook local government area, plus with a photographic record in the Spider Orchid EBook 2018 from Frankland WA, I am confident in the ID.
Also found were Little pink fairies, Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp, flava) and Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata), which are all quite common orchids. Also seen was a sole Lemon-scented sun orchid in bud and masses of spent Mosquito or Midge orchids.
From nowhere, a sole Joseph’s spider orchid is seen, so some pics were taken.
I go across the road to check out a particular sign and discover some White spider orchids in clumps as well as one that looks a little different. The clumping ones must be some Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) whilst the unusual one could be a Tangled white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta), which is smaller in size and has shorter fringe segments than other longicauda complex orchids.
So even though we were fighting off the mozzies, the orchids found made it worth it. However we must move on, so we jump back into the Triton but only get 5 mins down the road when masses of White spider orchids on the roadside force us to pull-over. We are near the Yeriminup Road intersection.
These must be more Stark white spider orchids due to their clumping habit. Also found was another donkey orchid and another Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is trying to open up.
OK, it’s now past 4pm and we still have close to 100kms to get to our planned overnight stop. So foot to the petal and off we go. We arrive at the Stirling Range Retreat, check-in, then unpack ourselves into our small cabin. At least we will stay dry as the weather moves in.
Not too shabby a day with 14 species found, plus un-named Donkey and Snail orchids. Also the Crab-lipped spider orchid and Little pink fan orchids were brand new species for us, so that was exciting.
Waking up in the middle of the bush is such an amazing way to start the day. After an enjoyable relaxing breakfast we venture into the bush for an explore. Close to our camp we stumble across some snail orchids. Possibly Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens )even though it is notrecorded at this location in either the Atlas of Living Australia or Florabase. The uniformly thickened lateral sepals, pointed hood and red colouring though all allude to this identification. In the reference books, its location is listed as between Mandurah and Albany, which one would think includes Wellington National Park.
Further afield we find the colourful Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a common orchid found from Northampton to Esperance. The easiest way to distinguish them from the similar Pink Fairy is the colour to the reverse of their leaf. Little pink fairies are red whilst pink fairies are green.
Then we are very happy with our next find. The Bird orchid (Pterostylis barbata) is the most widespread of this complex, with it’s range occurring from Bindoon to Albany. The dorsal sepal and petals form a hood, whilst the lateral sepals are long and narrow. The featherlike labellum, appears to erupt from a burst belly.
Next up some more common pterostylis sp. orchids are found. The ever reliableJug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) are found, but only one specimen of each, which is unusual.
Then more snail orchids are found and upon closer inspection they have crinkled edged leaves on their rosette. They must be the Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis crispula) which is found in forests between Perth and Albany.
Another colour then catches our eye. We find a Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea)partly open so grab a snap. However a bit later on we find some fully open. These beautiful orchids flower over most of the southwest, from Jurien Bay to Fitzgerald River National Park. They are also listed as being found east of Esperance, which is interesting. A population separated from the main location is referred to as a disjunct occurrence.
Well finally time to move on, so we leave our overnight campsite and venture back south towards Mungalup road. Rather than go back to the dam we turn at River Road and make a stop just past the Transmission Tower north of Pile Road. Here we locate some more Red-sepaled snail orchids, Jug orchids and Little pink fairies.
Turning onto Pile Road we travel east and flow into Mungalup road. Further along we then turn off into the Collie State Forest, onto a gravel track named Lyalls Log Road and head into the unknown. At a small creek crossing we stop to investigate. Here we find some snail orchids growing on the banks. Due to the uniformly thickened lateral sepals and the hairy stem, they must be more Red-sepaled snail orchids.
We then move away from the crossing to pull off the track in case anyone else comes along. We then continue our investigation of the nearby open bushland. Here we find more beautiful Silky blue orchids which stand out in the gravely ground.
Then a Bird orchid is found looking like it is giving praise to the heavens. Later on further blooming Bird orchids are found.
The usual suspects for today are found again. Banded greenhood, Little pink fairy and Jug orchid. Ok, I wonder if anything else will turn up. We widen our search with fingers crossed.
Our hopes are rewarded, with some Clubbed spider orchids (Caladenia longiclavata) found interspersed between the trees. This orchid flowers from September to early November and is distributed between Perth and Albany growing in forests and woodlands. It grow up to 400mm in height and has a single , erect hairy leaf which can be up to 180mm in length. Now the orchids could also be the Big clubbed spider orchid (c. magniclavata) as the clubbed sections of the lateral sepals seem to be half the length which is a distinguishing feature, whilst the previously mentioned Clubbed spider orchid has clubs around 1/3rd the length of the sepals. What do you think is the right ID?
Then we are amazed to find another type of spider orchid as well. The Leaping spider orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) flowers from August to early November over a range between Albany and Bindoon. The species name refers to the broad wings to the column. Another distinguishing feature is the dense central cluster of deep, purplish calli.
After nearly 40 mins searching this location we decide we had best move on. We did not get to far along the road before we pull over again. Another new orchid for today is found. The small Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelii) needs a steady hand to get a good shot. Unfortunately no steady hand between us 😦 , however will post the best pic. These little guys flower July to September so we are lucky to find some still in flower.
What caught our eye and made us stop at this spot was the large flock of Bird orchids. Also mixed in was a lone Little pink fairy. Photos taken we move on, but don’t get very far, coz a double headed Little pink fairy catches our eye.
Our road eventually terminates at a T junction with Mungalup Tower road and we head south. This road terminates at a tree plantation, so we skirt along the boundary of this plantation until we reach Lyalls Mill Road. So we end up stopping multiple times along the way as orchids catch our eye. A random selection of photos taken is posted for your enjoyment, as no new species were found.
Being close to Glen Mervyn Dam we decide to pull into the picnic area for our lunch. (Refer feature picture) Whilst enjoying lunch overlooking the beautiful water, we discover a nice little grouping of Little pink fairies and another jug orchid. However we do not venture far as we still have a ways to go before our planned overnight stay at Debbie’s cousin Kerry’ farm.
Still around 80-100kms to travel, however we only make it to Noggerup before stopping again. We take a road into the Preston National Park (Shown as Greater Preston NP in Maps) where we go for an exploration. We find orchids, however no new species which is disappointing, but hey, orchids are orchids, so of course we take many photos.
We head back to the Donnybrook Boyup Brook road and move south to Camballan Road, where we stop for another search, this time in the Wilga State Forest. At last we find a new species for the day. The quirky Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea)is found standing proud. It is quite unique in appearance, given the petals and lateral sepals are held horizontally. Another new species for the day is the Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)which is usually found everywhere, but we only find one lone specimen here. Other orchids found were the Little pink fairy and Jug orchid.
A little further along the road we make one final stop in the Wilga State Forest, as farmland is looming. Only found a Banded greenhood in our quick search though. So we moved on and pulled over on the verge of Condinup road for a slightly longer search (15 mins). Here we found some Little pink fairies, Cowslip and Jug orchids.
We were amazed by the large numbers of donkey orchids found here. There are 3 listed in Florabase as occurring in the Boyup Brook shire but only 1 of these is listed in Atlas of Living Australia. That one being the Purple pansy orchid , which they are definitely not, so I will just refer to them as Donkey orchids (Diuris sp.). As per usual, please comment if you can help identify the species.
Getting close to our destination, so we move on and go over Condinup Crossing, where we pull up at a previously known location. Deb heads off straight away looking for the white spider orchids, whilst I do my usual wander. She did find a couple of them and from the location I feel they could be the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is recorded as growing in woodlands from Lancelin to Mount Barker.
No other new orchids for the day are found however I will post some pics to confirm the location they were found. The donkey orchids though look like the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia)which is listed as being found around these parts. Thoughts?
Well it’s now after 4pm so we jump back in the Triton and head to Kerry’s farm, where we are staying the night.
Not too bad a day today. Travelled new routes and found many orchids. 14 species in fact, so an awesome day actually.
After a fun night sharing Father’s Day with my brother in Dwellingup, we awake to a fine sunny day. Then after breakfast, we make tracks for the coastal plain. The first orchid stop for the day is at an unnamed Nature Reserve on Burnside Road in Meelon. First up we find the old faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)which comes in varying shades of yellow and with varied markings. Unlike last year, this is the only orchid species found.
Slightly disappointed, we move on to Manea Park (Mud Map SW5) near Bunbury. After parking up, we immediately hit the walking trail, however, it takes a little while to find our first orchid. We spend just over and hour walking the loop path and we find many orchids. Donkey orchids are found and I believe some of them to be the Kemerton donkey orchid (Diuris cruenta)which flowers late August to October in a restricted range from Capel to Lake Clifton. A distinguishing feature listed in my reference book, is the lateral lobes to the labellum are yellow at their base and reddish at the tip. Other donkey orchids are found that may be a different species, as on a previous visit, I named 3 species found in the Bunbury area.
Another orchid found throughout the park was the snail orchid. From what i can tell they mostly resemble the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) due to the colouring of the flower, the numerous stem leaves and long lateral sepals.
Then some stunning spider orchids are found. The large white spider orchid appear to be the Coastal white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. calcigena) due the location only, as the features of the subspecies are all similar in C. longicauda. However others seem to match the Sandplain white spider orchid (Caladenia speciosa) which has long messy labellum fringe segments and may also be found in this location. As per usual any input in identification would be welcomed.
As usual the good olde Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) shows up, as does the common Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva). Even though they are common orchids, it is still nice to come across some in this location.
A first for this location is also found, which is exciting. The Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) is one of two species in this Western Australian endemic genus. This particular orchid was being watched over by a local Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa subsp. rugosa).
Other common orchids found along the walk include the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and the small Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta)which was found growing around the base of a large tree.
Another small patch of snail orchids is found. From the hairy stem , to the pointed hood, it all leads to me believe they are more Red sepaled snail orchids. A very darkly marked donkey orchid is also found. Could possibly be the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia) or just a darker version of the Kemerton donkey orchid. Again, let me know your thoughts.
Had to grab a pic of how tall the donkey orchids were, before we leave Manea Park. We then made our way into Bunbury to the Farmers Market to have lunch and buy some supplies. On the highway welcoming people into Bunbury was a large billboard featuring the wonderful Cowslip orchids. Had to grab a pic of that as well. From here we make our way into the hills to check out the Wellington Dam mural. What an amazing sight, so of course it made it as the feature picture for this post. Finding a camping site took a while but we set ourselves up for the night and enjoyed another night under the stars in the great outdoors.
After leaving Mokine Nature Reserve we make our way south down Wambyn Road to St Ronans Nature Reserve(Mud Map E 7). We park up at the NW boundary of the park and go exploring. My first orchid found is the Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a rather common orchid flowering between Northampton and Esperance. They are always a pleasure to find though and range from pale to vivid pink in colour.
Also found is a lone Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata), which is referred to as a common wheatbelt orchid, given its distribution from Wongan Hills to Jerramungup. This specimen stands a good 300mm in height and they are recorded as growing to 400mm in height.
Next up a patch of yellow is seen. Getting closer it is confirmed to be a donkey orchid and appears to be a Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia) which can have up to 7 flowers per orchid. Florabase confirms they are located in the Northam and York shires so the location is covered. The other possibility is the common donkey orchid which is similar though larger in size. Thoughts??
Finally we come across a new orchid for the day. The bright white Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is found as two scattered individuals, which is light on when compared to the dozens we have found growing elsewhere in previous seasons. Ericksonella is a another monotypic genus endemic to Western Australia.
The final orchid for this location is another yellow orchid. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found with markings similar to the Brookton Highway cowslip orchid, though this orchid flowers from late September and is located further south. I have read that the boundaries are quite unpredictable with the subspecies but I’m happy to call it the plain cowslip.
We can’t spend an hour at each site, so we move onto Mount Observation in the Wandoo National Park to show Richard what we found here last year. Let’s hope they are flowering this season. On the drive in we spy a nice white spider orchid. I believe it to be the White Spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is known to grow in the area and does occur in gravelly ground.
We then make our way up to the picnic area and park up, to go exploring. Not much around here but we did come across a couple of Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which is another monotypic genus, however this time is located along the whole of southern Australia including Tasmania. The most distinctive feature which alludes to the common name, is the dense mass of calli and short fringe segments to the upright labellum.
Walking back to the Tritons, Deb and I come across some Green spider orchids. Then a rocky incline, above the parking area, I find some more Small flowered donkey orchids.
Hidden by a log right where we parked is a couple of Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva)which are a unique shaped orchid from the Pterostylis genus. They have also been referred to as the Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
We now move on and stop at an area we have found other orchids before. The Clubbed spider orchid (Caladenia longiclavata)is again found growing on the verges. As the common names alludes both the sepals and petals are clubbed, with the former being long, thick, grooved clubs and the later small, thin clubs.
However some seem to be the often co-located Big clubbed spider orchid (Caladenia magniclavata) which is distinguished by having down-swept petals and lateral sepals and the clubs to the lateral sepals being approx 50% of the length. The Clubbed spider orchids clubbing is around 30% of the length in comparison.
More Little pink fairies were located as were some awesome Bird orchids (Pterostylis barbata) which are the most widespread of the bird orchids, ranging from Bindoon and Albany. I am amazed at the structure of these orchids with their beak, bloated body and feather duster like labellum.
Also found mixed in with the Clubbed spiders, Big clubbed spiders, Pink fairies and Bird orchids were more Blue beards and Jug orchids.
Finally we move on and close to the end of the track, near the Great Southern Highway we find some more donkey orchids and a Sugar orchid.
Turning south at Mundaring we travel along Mundaring Weir Road and make an on the spot decision to stop at Gungin Gully in the Beelu National Park for our last exploration of the day. We hit the bush and first orchid found is another Jug orchid quickly followed by a Bird orchid. In fact we find so many bird orchids, it is mind blowing.
Another Pterostylis sp. is found amongst the flock of Bird orchids. A small snail orchid is found, however I will not endeavour to name it based on one specimen. If you have any ideas on the ID please contact me.
Another Small flowered donkey orchid is found together with a very finished Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). I took photos of both just to record their location.
The highlight of today was finding numerous Silky blue orchids (Cyanicula sericea)which is a common orchid in the western part of its distribution whilst becoming rarer in the eastern parts. Distribution is Jurien Bay to Condingup. The black spotted labellum is a distinctive feature of this orchid.
It’s 3pm so time to make our way to Sandy and Noel’s place in Bedfordale, where we will crash the night. Over the next couple days I train down to Mandurah to visit my mum and sister Maxine, then catch up with the in-laws for a Father’s Day breakfast near the Swan River, then pop up to my brothers place in Dwellingup, where we grab another bed for the night.
Another great day with at least 17 species of orchid found.
After a nice, dry, warm sleep we awake to another beautiful spring morning. Leaving Northam we head south down Spencers Brook Road to near Mokine, where we turn into Mokine Road. Next we turn at Leaver Road and find Mokine Nature Reserve, our first stop for the day. The first orchid found for the day is the Green spider orchid or Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is the most widespread of the falcata complex orchids. The prominently clubbed lateral sepals emit pheromone-like odours to attract male thynnine wasps who pollinate the flowers.
Well the next orchid is the bright yellow Common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa)which flowers from August to October and is distributed between Gingin and Bunbury, then inland to Brookton. Donkey orchids are also called Pansy orchids by some, and the shape of the flower matches both common names to a tee.
Next up is the ever faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava) which is arguably the most widespread species of terrestrial orchid in Western Australia. The location we find ourselves in, leads me to believe the orchids growing here are the subspecies “flava”, which is also the most widespread of the 4 named subspecies. These orchids can be found in their hundreds, however we only find scattered individuals and clumps.
Next up we find some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) in both their green and brown forms. These orchids are nearing the end of their season as they are noted as flowering from June to September.
Another related orchid is also located. The distinctive Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is found from Geraldton to Israelite Bay, is another orchid that is regularly found on our treks. This orchid ranges in colour during it’s lifecycle from green to light brown, with the 3 pictured showing this feature.
Then another bright colour catches our eye. A dual-flowered Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing on the road verge. The purple underside to the leaf is a feature to help distinguish it from the other pink fairies.
Further into the reserve I go to try and find anything else and as luck has it I come across a lone Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea), standing tall in the open. In fact they can be up to 450mm in height, however this specimen was around 270mm in height. The short, horizontal petals and lateral sepals are a distinctive feature of this small orchid. And just to record the sighting we did also find a still recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata), which flower March to June.
What a great little spot this turned out to be. We have spent just over 1hr here and have found 8 orchid species. Next time we will need to explore further into the reserve as we were only a few metres in from the road this time. As it is now after 11am we make tracks for our next exploration site.
After enjoying a very basic continental breakfast at the Koorda hotel we make our way along the Dowerin – Koorda Road, as we have not recorded driving this way before. We love breaking new ground so to speak, as this opens up our search area for orchids. With this in mind our first location visited is the Booralaming Sports Centre, a random piece of uncleared land chosen from Google Maps, whilst driving along. After checking out the old play equipment and abandoned tennis pavilion we get stuck into looking for orchids.
First orchid found was a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa), which is not a great specimen. Photo taken just to record the finding. Next up we find another orchid in better numbers. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is a common inland orchid which is a monotypic genus, endemic to WA.
A donkey orchid is then found with a huge clump found later on back near the pavilion. From the location and the following features: reflexed lateral sepals, broad rounded petals, and broad dorsal sepal, I am calling these Mottled donkey orchids (Diuris suffusa).
Next up is a wonderful trio of Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which have a broad smooth labellum with a central band of calli. The more south the location the longer the band of calli. Refer the post from the 01/09/2021 for an image of a northern form.
Then a nice surprise, some spider orchids are found. The yellow coloured ones I believe to be the Primrose spider orchid (Caladenia xantha) which flower until early September which explains the spent specimen found. The colouring ranges from pale to vivid yellow, which includes the labellum. EDIT: hugo_innes suggested an ID in iNaturalist Australia that they may be Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) due to the north/east location.
White coloured spider orchids also present and I thought they are probably the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians), however after posting to a Facebook page a knowledgeable person advised they thought they were the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens), due to the broad labellum, which is usually small in most other white wispy styled orchids.
We did get distracted with a large rubbish dump which gave us reason to scavenge, however we finally made our way back to the Triton’s and moved on westwards. Our next stop was at Moonijin Nature Reserve. We parked up near a creek depression and went exploring. First orchid found was the small Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile)which is by far the most widespread of these little orchids of the P. gracile complex.
Next up a beautiful spider orchid is found. A single specimen firstly, then an amazing clump of flowers. The Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) can be either yellow, cream or pink-red in colour so they can easily be confused with other similar species from the C. filamentosa complex.
After finding the clump of spider orchids, it was nice to find some Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea)which range from very pale pink to vivid pink in colour. They always have bright pink calli on the labellum, unless you are lucky enough to find a lutea form. The white form found could actually be the related Candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta) as they do overlap in distribution, but maybe not this far inland.
Then another colour grabs our eyes. A donkey orchid is found which is probably the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta)due to the broad, reflexed dorsal sepal, reflexed lateral sepals and of course the location.
Also found were more Ant orchids, so after taking some more photos we move onwards to our next stop.
We stop off in Dowerin and grab some lunch at the Dowerin Bakery, before moving on to an unnamed Nature Reserve on Berring-Nambling Road, south-west of town. First up we find more Pink candy orchids and other ones that seem to be Candy orchids, as they are larger and white in colour.
Woohoo, another new orchid for the day. The Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis)has a distinctive look, which the common name suggests. Even the dorsal sepal in usually drooping. A clumping spider orchid, we are lucky to find some great clumps as well. These orchids are a common inland species found from Northampton to Jerramungup, during the months August through October.
Then some bright yellow catches our eye. The cheerful Cowslip orchid is found and from the markings it appears to be the Brookton Highway cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. “late red“) which is also identified by the leaf being regularly longer than the flower scape. However we are around 80kms north of the recorded distribution and they flower from late September, so these may just be the standard cowslip (C. flava subsp. flava) which vary greatly in size and colouring.
It’s now past 2pm so we had better keep moving. We pass through Goomalling and head toward Northam. We make one last stop at Cartamulligan Well Nature Reserve which has Southern Brook running through the middle. We turn off Watson road into a gravelled area and go exploring. It is quite weedy so unsure how successful we will be with finding many orchids.
Surprisingly, the first orchid discovered is the Candy orchid or maybe its the Pink candy orchid. As mentioned previously their distributions overlap and subsp. rosea can be very pale pink in colour, even appearing white, so identification can be difficult. Let me know your thoughts on the ID for these ones.
Definite Pink candy orchids are found later on and these are pics of some of them.
Excitedly we find a new species for the day. This orchid is common but we still get excited when something new is found on any given day. The Blue beard or Blue fairy orchid (Pheladenia deformis)is the only species in the genus Pheladenia. Given it’s common name, it is interesting to note that they do come in a white variety, though these are rare.