25/07/2021 ….. First Spider Orchids of the season

Day Trip, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Western Australian Orchids

Planned family picnic cancelled, so we took the opportunity to go for a Sunday drive. Time to check the local area to see if we could find anything special. We headed west first, with a roadside stop producing only Caladenia leaves. We then pulled over for another roadside stop on the Gibson-Dalyup road, which proved more successful.

A donkey orchid catches my eye, then Deb notices I had walked past 2 plants to get to my find. Typical of me to miss ones that Deb then finds. Oh well, a find is a find. The orchid appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs between Denmark and Esperance and flowers from July to September. Leaves of other species located but nothing yet in flower or already past their time.

We now move on to Gibson to see it we find anything new. Once we reach the track off Walker Road we chug along in 1st whilst hanging out the window looking for anything. I spy a nice big Caladenia leaf so pull over to go for an explore. Before that though I make coffees from the thermos. Deb finds a couple of Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which we found here on a previous visit, however took some photos to record it nevertheless. Another Pterostylis orchid found however not fully open. The Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) will be a common sight soon enough.

Slightly disappointed with our luck so far today, so we move on to our Crawford Road location. Again we appear to be too early as we find many orchid leaves, with some in bud. So where to go now? Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) of course. Surely we will find something in flower there.

We decide to mix it up and turn down a track in the arboretum we had not checked out before. This lead us nowhere that seemed likely to produce orchids so we found our way back to known territory. First up though, we head to a sunny spot to have lunch. Curried egg sandwiches eaten whilst checking out nearby spots. Deb finds so many budding spider orchids in a spot we had not really checked before, so we now know where to check out later in the season.

Moving on we head to the location where we have previously found Western tiny blue orchids. Deb drops me off to walk through the plot, whilst she drives around the boundary. I find some what I believe to be Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) however one of them is quite dark so am not so sure. Could be Dark banded greenhoods or Mallee Banded greenhoods. Thoughts welcome on the ID. No tiny blues found as they are listed as flowering from August, so again we must be too early. EDIT: I have been advised by a knowledgeable person the green orchid is a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) (green form) due to opaque lateral sepals without stripes, compared to the earlier greenhood found. Also confirms Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) for the darker greenhood. Thanks MP

Back on the main road into the arboretum Deb spies a small flowering spider orchid blowing in the strong winds. Very difficult conditions to try and get a good photo to assist with identification. I will provide two options. Either Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) or Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) as both flower early in July and extend into the Esperance area. What are your thoughts? EDIT: C. microchila has been identified by a knowledgeable person. Thanks MP.

Then it was time to check out the plot where we find our king spider orchids. Deb as usual finds the first one in flower. The Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) as the name suggests is found around Esperance. It actually ranges between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid and inland to Scaddan. It is said to flower from August to October so the few orchids we found today must be some early bloomers.

We then move on to the plot where we find snail orchids in most years. This time is no exception. The snail orchids grow from quite a large rosette of leaves, have 2 or 3 stem leaves on a smooth stem and uniformly thick lateral sepals. I have been advised by a knowledgeable person from the WA Native Orchid Facebook group that they are most likely the yet unnamed Helms snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Helms’). Also found some spider orchids in bud.

It’s now 2 pm so we make tracks for home as Deb commences her shift at 4 pm. Was not expecting to find 2 species of Spider orchids in flower so it turned out to be a great Sunday exploration.

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.

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.

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.

20/06/2021 ….. Munglinup weekend .. Day 2

Cascade NR, Fields NR, Munglinup NR, Nature Reserves, Road Trip, Speddingup NR, Springdale NR, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

Waking to another beautiful morning at Munglinup Beach Camping Ground we enjoy a leisurely morning before packing up the camper and moving to Springdale Nature Reserve for our first orchid hunt. No orchids found so we move onto Munglinup Nature Reserve to see if we have better luck.

We park up just inside the track and venture in on foot. First orchid for the day is the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) which is a widespread orchid flowering June to September.

Once we reach the old gravel pit Deb heads off to the area she had previously found Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves. She was lucky to find some in flower even though they are way past their best.

Also found a very promising leaf about 4mm across. It appears to be from the Drakaea genus however the only species mentioned as being located near this location has a smooth heart shaped leaf. This leaf has small hairs over it’s surface so may be another species not listed for this location. Again any assistance you can provide to the correct identification would be appreciated.

Nothing more found at this location so we move onto one of our regular haunts along the highway. At the intersection of Mills Road we go exploring, though not expecting too much to be found. However we find our first orchid from the Diuris genus, which is exciting. The Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) is found in large numbers, however there are only a few early flowering ones, given that they are said to flower from July to September.

Also found some dark greenhood orchids and well as some lighter green in colour. They may be two species or colour variant’s of the same. Possible identification: Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea), Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) or Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata). Give me your thoughts.

We next move along Mills Road to our next location (Mud Map SE32). We first explore the north side of the road and come across a Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) flowering all alone. Another solo specimen is later found. Crossing to the south side of the road proves fruitless so we move on.

We head further north, as we have chosen to check out Cascade Nature Reserve. Here we pull into the old quarry/gravel pit and go exploring. First up we find more banded greenhoods, then discover a shell orchid in bud. It should be a Dwarf shell orchid (Pterostylis brevichila), which flower from July to September, as it is just starting to flower. All other inland shell orchid species commence flowering in May.

If we get a chance we will return later to catch the shell orchids in full flower. However we must keep moving, so even further north we check out Fields Nature Reserve. This is a new location so very unsure what may be here. Unfortunately we only find more greenhood orchids. These appear to be a mixture of species, which is cool.

The only other species found was a single, early flowering, Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) which have a small rosette of pointed leaves and the flower is green and fawn in colour. They are said to flower from July, hence this one is not fully formed as yet.

We now head east and at the Scaddan / Dalyup boundary, we check out Speddingup Nature Reserve. We had visited here back on the 22/5/21, when we located many pterostylis rosettes, so we hope some have now flowered.

Well first up we found what appeared to be a Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) in bud. Then as expected we finally find some Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila) in flower. In fact they were even growing on the edge of the track. These are an inland shell orchid which flowers from July, so we are lucky some early flowering specimens were here.

I venture across the road and find more banded greenhoods. Again the species may be variable.

It is now 4pm so time to make tracks for home. A great day with some good finds. The season is starting out great. I can’t wait till the next adventure.

19/06/2021 ….. Munglinup weekend .. Day 1

Lake Shaster NR, Munglinup Beach, Nature Reserves, Other Reserves, Road Trip, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

Following a great nights sleep, in our Ezytrail camper, we awake to a beautiful winters morning at the Munglinup Beach Campground (Mud Map SE 33). After a leisurely breakfast we finally go exploring for orchids. In the consolidated sand dunes we find what we have been looking for. So many pterostylis rosettes, so we move around in extreme care, looking for orchids in flower.

In the middle of all theses rosettes we eventually find some Curled-tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii) standing tall. Well about 100mm tall that is. Flowering plants lack the rosette which is a distinctive feature of shell orchids.

No other flowering orchids found. Numerous leaves of different species found, so a return visit later in the season may be warranted. As we are camping the night we spread our search wider, by packing up the Triton and driving west into Lake Shaster Nature Reserve. This track west leads to some possible beachside camping and day use areas and it along this track that we find our next pterostylis species.

They appear to be Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which are a greenhood with brown to green flowers. They are found in coastal dunes and scrublands when near the coast.

Further along the track a lonely snail orchid is spotted. I am unable to identify this specimen after referencing my books, so if you can assist please leave a comment.

We reach the beach and take a break to enjoy the lunch that Deb had whipped up back at camp. We then move a little further west to another beach where Deb tries her hand at fishing, whilst I explore for orchids in the surrounding dunes. Deb was more successful than I, so we return back to camp with no more orchids found, however I did find a good patch of leaves.

Found the orchid we expected in the shell orchid and the snail and greenhood orchids were a bonus. Deb got to fish and we both got to enjoy our beautiful south east coast on a sunny winters day. Now to light the campfire and have a drink or two.

Relaxation time

07/06/2021 ….. Wander home from weekend visiting family

Highbury SF, Road Trip, State Forest, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

A roadtrip to Perth and back with two grandkids in tow. What were we thinking. LOL!! So after a great catch-up with family in Dwellingup, Mandurah and Perth it was time for the long trek home. All the more interesting given our two special passengers.

Leaving Dwellingup we make a quick stop at Marradong Church for a look at the memorial sculpture. Then we stop at Quindanning Hall for a toilet break and to stretch our legs before we head off towards home. However at Highbury State Forest, along Tarwonga Road, we decide to have a quick scout around for some orchids. I walk along the track with my grandson, whilst Deb and the granddaughter drive slowly along in the Triton.

Too my delight , we find some orchids. The common Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) and Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vitatta) are found. Also found was the recently named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) Pictures taken, then we hit the road again.

Next stop was at the small town of Kukerin, for another toilet stop. This was a great little stop with bouncy pillow, playground and windmills to entertain the grandkids.

We grabbed some lunch at Rosies Cafe & Bakery in Lake Grace before our final push to Esperance. It was an enjoyable return trip with the grandkids. Not much in the way of orchids but we did only check out one location, which is very unusual for us.

23/05/2021 ….. Weekend away . Return trip .

Nature Reserves, Pallarup NR, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

After a great nights sleep in the Ezytrail camper, we awake to a beautiful day at Lilian Stokes Rock in the Frank Hann National Park. As the search yesterday proved fruitless we decide to pack up and head west to Lake King. We call into the tavern for lunch and refreshments before starting our orchid hunt.

First up we park up at the roadside stop and venture across the road to the walk trail No. 3 that leads north from the Blue house. There is a lot a rubbish from years gone by along this trail but we do find some Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis). Mostly spent ones are found however on the return trip we did find some still in flower.

The only other recognizable orchid found were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vitatta) just starting to flower. Nothing more found so we head off to another location.

We head south to a favourite location of ours.; Pallarup Nature Reserve. As it is nearly 3pm we have a quick scout along the track leading to the water tank. It is along here we find the Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus). Another bunny orchid without the crinkle-leaf is also found. Unsure of the identification so will just name this a ?? bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus). Any help in providing an identification would be appreciated.

We reach the granite rock and head above the catchment wall for where we usually find Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata). We are not disappointed, however the numbers are lower.

15/05/2021 ….. Saturday saunter up the lookout.

Dempster Head, Esperance, Western Australian Orchids

Debbie has a shift this afternoon so I decide to go exploring near the Rotary lookout (Mud Map SE34) at Dempster Head in Esperance, as the weather is quiet nice. Parking up at the lookout I head towards the port and discover new markings for walk trails. Following the trail with a blue colour and Cowslip orchid markings, I discover no orchids in flower until I am way past the water tanks and walking the gravel trail toward Lovers Cove. It was along here I finally discovered some white bunny orchids in flower.

From the stem leaf shape and size, they appear to be the White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) which is a common orchid found in coastal areas from Dirk Hartog Island to Israelite Bay. They flower from as early as March through to May, with up to 7 flowers per stem which can reach up to 350mm in length.

After exploring right down to Lovers Cove and back up no other orchids were found. So I decide to call it quits after 1hr of exploring, happy with my finds but hanging out for more variety on the next hunt.