2018 Road Trip – Holland Track and Beyond – Day 3

26/08/2018

Foggy morning
Waiting for the campers to dry out

Woke up to thick fog, so this delayed our departure as we waited for the campers to dry out before we packed them away. Once on our way we followed the Trip Notes from the “Explore the Holland Track and Cave Hill Woodlines” Explorer Series: Western Australia No.1 3rd Edition  booklet and made our first stop at the side of the Katanning-Nyabing Road in Ewlyamartup. All 3 of us go exploring and we discover Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva), Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) and Dark Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) all of which have been previously found this season.

Further along the road we stop at an old church, St Peters Church in Badgebup which was built in 1922. Toilet break in Nyabing, before heading to a Holland Track landmark, referred to as Holland Dam just off Guelfi  Road.  

We found the government water tank and a track into the scrub which lead to a cleared area, which may have been the remains of the so called dam. We quickly walked around and found further Jug orchids, Cowslip orchids, Dark banded greenhoods and Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata).

Quick bite to eat before making tracks to the Holland Rocks Nature Reserve. Here we park up at the Water tank and search the south side of the road. First up I find more Dark banded greenhoods then excitedly the first wispy spider orchid is found. On the way over to see my orchid Deb also stumbles across some spider orchids.  I believe these to be Chameleon spider orchids (Caladenia dimidia) which range from Paynes Find to Scaddan and flower August to October. The upswept to horizontal petals, incurved dorsal sepal and dark tail filaments lead me to this classification. 

Very close by we also find Sugar orchids, then further afield Deb finds lots of them and Donkey orchids. From our location the donkey orchids must be Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) which is a common inland orchid flowering August to September in a range from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums

On the way back to the Triton we find other specimens of the Chameleon spider orchid. There is even a solitary pink-red variation.

 We keep following the Trip notes and make our way NE to Silver Wattle Hill Nature Reserve. We jump out and find the track leading to what we hoped was a spot where the original Holland Track had carved wheel ruts into the granite. No luck in finding the wheel ruts however we were lucky enough to find some orchids. On the walk we found Sugar orchids, Wispy spider orchids (unknown species) and a Cowslip orchid and Jug orchid.

So a bit disheartened that we did not find the old wheel ruts we also check south of the spot we had parked up. Lucky we did as I found a Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) on the edge of the granite rock, a Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which flower August to early October in a range from Northampton to Jerramungup, growing in the Resurrection Plant. Deb found another Wispy spider orchid also growing in a Resurrection Plant. Unable to confidently name the species though. 

Leaving Silver Wattle Hill N.R. we again follow the Trip notes and make our way through Lake Biddy (abandoned townsite)  into Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve from the south. We actually have to drive through a farmers property which felt a bit intrusive, but we then passed through a gate into the Nature Reserve. Less than 3km into the reserve we find the rock and set about setting up camp, lighting a fire, cooking dinner, having a few drinks, talking some BS and then hitting the sack. It has been a great day following the Trip Notes and finding at least 9 different orchid species, with a couple of unknown Wispy spiders thrown in.  

Camp fire
Clearing skies

15hr Sunday Drive

12/08/2018

Saying our goodbyes to Kirstie and Hamish we set off for a leisurely trip home to Esperance. Usually a 7 to 8 hr drive over 725km, we however take 15hrs, as we make numerous stops to hunt for orchids.  Our first destination is Mount Dale in the Helena National Park. The wind is very chilly, however we brave this on our search for some orchid colour. We are not disappointed. First colour spotted is “yellow”. A Donkey orchid is found, but which one?? I’m making the call for the Winter donkey orchid (Diuris brumalis) which flower late June to August in a range from Jurien Bay to Collie. They prefer lateritic or granitic soils and up here in the hills that is the soil types encountered. Other specimens were found throughout our search of this area. 

Close to our first donkey the next colour found is “pink”. Little pink fairy orchid  (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing in the shelter of a granite boulder. These little beauties flower July to early October in a range from Northampton to Esperance. Singles, pairs and groupings are found in our extended search.  

Little pink fairy orchid
Often clumping habit

Deb then finds the colour “green”. A small patch of snail orchids hidden in a bush so only one visible for a  photo. Could not see the rosette however based on location, pointed hood with brownish tones and medium sized lateral sepals, I  will be naming it as Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf”). These flower late June to September in a large range from Perth down to Albany. Another patch yet to fully flower was found and the rosettes appear to confirm my classification. 

Another species of “mixed” colour is found by Deb. Once again hidden or protected near a granite boulder. It appears to be an Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) which has been fertilised.

Next is a similarly “mixed” coloured orchid, which I found after pushing into the scrub for a few metres. Firstly I found a large patch of leaves and then with a slower look some orchids flowering were discovered. The genus of Cyrtostylis is known, but which species is it? By the smaller , duller flowers they must be the Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelli) which is found from Kalbarri to east of Esperance during July and September. 

Well Mount Dale proved a good hunting ground with 5 species flowering, plus Jug and Bird orchids yet to flower found. Already 2.5 hrs (65kms) into our drive home, so we better move on, or we will break our 12 hr record for the drive home. Next stop planned is Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) however we detour into Westdale Road (Mud Map SE5) to see if we can find some of the species listed in the guide. First off we find the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which flowers August to October in a range from Geraldton and Israelite Bay.

Deb is off exploring further whilst I slowly finish taking phone and camera pics of the Jug orchid. Only 2 mtrs away I find the Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) and call Deb back to see. On the way back she also finds other specimens less than a metre off her original walk track. They are so hard to see until you find them , then they stick out more easily as we continue searching.

Disbursed around the area are Common donkey orchids (Diuris corymbosa) which flower August to October in a range from Gingin to Bunbury and inland to near Brookton, our actual location funnily enough.

Another new find for the season is the Blue beard (Phelandenia deformis) which flower late May to October in a range from Murchison River to Israelite Bay. Only 3 small flowers found but still it is a new one for this season. 

It is now 4 hrs since we left and we have only covered 90kms of the distance home. Better get a move on. 20kms later we arrive at Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) where we had planned to explore for at least an hour as Deb had quickly checked this out on Tuesday when she drove to Perth, when she found at least 4 species flowering. First up we locate some more Common donkey orchids before Deb calls me over to a patch of at least 3 species in close proximity.

First up are Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’).

 Then as previously found in this location, there are Shell orchids everywhere. Many are finished as they flower from May to August. Mud Map records both Red and Brown veined shell orchids here in July so we have missed the peak flowering period it seems. From the flowering plants I believe them to be Red-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis hamiltonii) as they are darker coloured and most have the labellum protruding from the hood formed by the dorsal sepal and petals. These flower in a range from Toodyay to the Stirling Range in woodlands and Rock Sheoak thickets. 

Also located close-by are some Little pink fairy orchids. So 4 species all within a 3 square metres area. Great find Deb. 

Other species found during our search were Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and Jug orchid. Also found was a meeting of Banded greenhood and Shells plus a Banded greenhood with a huge inflorescence. 

It’s now after 1.15pm and we have only travelled 110km of the 725km trip. Back to the Triton and a huge patch of spent shells is found plus the very first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) for the season. These flower from north of Geraldton to Israelite Bay during July to December. 

Onwards to Brookton where we grabbed a Parmi Wrap for lunch. (Parma for Farmer – raising funds for drought relief in NSW/QLD). Eating whilst driving to catch up some time our next planned stop is the Corrigin Wildflower Trail which goes around the airport  and is part of the Corrigin Nature Reserve. Taking the road in from the Dog Cemetery our first find are some more Little pink fairies  

Little pink fairy

Nothing else found so onwards we go at a slow pace, then I jump out to walk and find some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower between July and October in a range from Northampton to Grasspatch.  They are very small and growing underneath bushes, making photo taking a lay down on the job task. Further Frog greenhoods are found along the trail.

Further along the track whilst walking I spy some nice snail orchids. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata). Another grouping was found further along by Deb whilst driving slowly along. 

A sole Jug orchid was also found just yawning like a Pelican  and further along what appears to be Pterostylis arbuscular which is a Mallee form of banded greenhood. No common name yet.

Finally a donkey orchid was found. Based on location alone this must be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which flowers July to September between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. Corrigin is slightly east of the line York to Ravensthorpe. 

Nearly 4pm, or 8hrs into our trip home and we have only completed 220km of the 725km required. Best move on to our next planned stop, Macrocarpa Trail near Kulin. Just before 5pm Deb finds our first orchid of this trail. Appears to be Hairy-stemmed snail orchids. 

Also found further Frog greenhoods, Robust snail orchids, Dark banded greenhoods and another possible Pterostlyis arbuscular.

Then as the light is fading fast we venture into the bush and finally there they are.. Spider orchids in flower. We now rush to get as many photos as possible .. They are so small and with the fading light our photos are not the best but we need to record the find. From the location and size I believe we found the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) and the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) which both flower during August. The former July to October and the latter August to early October. The Common spider orchid ranges from Kalbarri to Esperance whilst the Pendant spider orchid ranges from Wongan Hills and Walpole. The Length of the petals and lateral sepals are a distinguishing feature. 

The sun finally sets on our orchid hunting so we make tracks via Lake Grace for Steak Burger / Fish n chips dinner. Then after 15hrs we arrive home at 11pm. Long day however very happy at finding 20 species of orchid.

Road Trip – Day 2 – Wagin to Kwolyin

02/9/2017

After a quick breakfast and a long hot shower we make up the thermos and head off to fuel up, then make tracks for the North Wagin Nature Reserve, our first planned stop of the day. Just off the road, on the track chosen to push into the reserve, I spy a group of Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) which we will check out on the way back. We park the Triton and camper near a dam and head out on foot to check out this new location. First find is the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata), quickly followed by Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’).

Many donkey orchids were found and mixed in with these we found some Little pink fairy orchids (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) distinguished by their leaf having a red coloured underside. Another common orchid found here was the Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) which competed with the donkey orchid to be the most common orchid in this location. As planned we took pictures of the Jug orchids as we made tracks for our next location.

Piesseville was our next location and we finally found flowering orchids, after other visits turned up leaves and buds only. As with the Wagin location the Fringed mantis orchid was very common, as were the Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), however the later were restricted to a few metres in from the road. Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) was also plentiful, but further into the bush.

The first spider orchid found is a Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) and nearby a reddish version of the same flower.A very different spider orchid is then found. The Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea). Unlike previous specimens found this season near Esperance,this one finally looks like the ones in the books.

In the northerly section of the location we find some Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and in the swampy section I find some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) of varying shades. I track down Deb who has crossed to the other side of the road and took her back to where the Blue beards were located.

On the way back to the Blue beards more spider orchids were found. Chameleon spider orchid, Crimson spider orchid (Caladenia footeana)  which flowers July to early October between Cranbrook and Binnu and Chapmans spider orchid (Caladenia chapmanii) which flowers September to mid-October between Boyup Brook, Kojonup and Northam, all within a few metres of each other.

Then an OMG moment, when Deb spies an all red spider orchid. Appears to be Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) NEW FIND!!!! These are found between Tenterden and Wongan Hills and flower August to early October. Not 100% certain as it was not clumping, but single flowers. Edit: After locating Blood spider orchids at Forsyth Woodland this one appears to be a red variant of another species.

Other orchids found at this location were Jug orchids and Banded greenhoods.

We moved on and called into Narrogin to buy some supplies and an extra gas cartridge for the shower unit. We then drove north-east and stopped off at North Yilliminning Nature Reserve for lunch and checked out this new location. Not far into our search and we were bombarded with yellow from so many Cowslip orchids. Various shapes, patterns and sizes with some having very long lateral sepals.

Next orchid found was the small Sugar orchid followed closely with some Donkey orchids. Most likely, Western wheatbelt donkey orchids. Also found were some Banded greenhoods

A very unusual colour catches Deb’s eye as she has found a Hybrid orchid. A Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis) which is a hybrid formed by a Cowslip and Pink fairy cross pollinating. Further colour variations were found. However to muddy the waters, the Little pink fairy orchid is found which may be a parent of the hybrids, in which case the orchid is unnamed and referred to as (Caladenia flava x C. reptans). For now I will leave the judgement open.

Edit: 29/10/2017 – From further investigations it appears all Hybrids found were Spectacular spider orchids due to the longer lateral sepals. Blooms August to October and found from Kalbarri to Esperance

Final orchids found were a sole Hairy stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) and some further Jug orchids.

Quick toilet stop in Wickepin, which was a very neat little town with a museum for Albert Facey, who is famous for his autobiography “A Fortunate Life”. We make one final stop, before catching up with Richard, at Malyalling Nature Reserve. Along the road that dissects the N.R. I spot some Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which flower August to October between Eurardy Station and Ravensthorpe, and when taking photos also noticed Fringed mantis orchids nearby.

Some Donkey orchids were also found and at the Eastern boundary of the N.R. we found a patch of  Fringed mantis orchids. Too many to count.

We made our way back to the low granite outcrop and Deb immediately finds some purple variants of the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) which is quite rare according to my orchid book, so a great find Deb!! Also found on this rock were Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) which flower from July to October between Shark Bay and Israelite Bay and very small donkey orchids.

After finding 18 orchid varieties it is now time to head off for Kwolyin campground, where Richard is waiting for us. … Trio travelling begins.

Kwolyin campground
Triton and camper . Richard with Red Triton and tent.

Road trip to Perth

11/08/2017

An early morning start for the long haul from Esperance to Perth. First stop was at Pallarup Rock N.R. It was just after 7am and it was freezing. There was a lot of water around so I had to watch my step. First orchid found was a little Blue beard or Blue fairy orchid (Pheladenia deformis). Took a pic and then ventured across the flowing water onto the granite rock. Some more Blue beards found and then further

into the scrub some yellow caught my eye. Donkey orchids. Now which type??

I believe them to be Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’) which occur July through September and range from York to Ravensthorpe. Walking back more Blue Beards and Donkey orchids are found as was a lone Jug orchid yet to fully develop.

On the track back to the sealed road I spy one poor specimen of a Snail orchid

My next stop for a quick orchid hunt is the Lookout at Lake Grace. As expected I found some Wispy spider orchids. Also as expected it is too hard to attempt to identify them all but I believe two types to be Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) and Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata). The Chameleon is found July to September from Paynes Find to Norseman whilst the Common is found July to October from Kalbarri to Esperance.  

Also found up here were Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea), Jug orchid and another Donkey orchid.

Moving on, the next quick check was on the Piesseville Tarwonga Rd turn-off. There were so many Caladenia orchids in bud, but could not for the life of me find one in flower. In the ditch to the side of the road I  found many snail orchids, including Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterosylis sp. ‘inland’) and whilst photographing them I also found some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and Dark banded greenhoods.

On Albany Hwy just past Williams I was stuck behind a slow moving truck, so I decided to check out the Williams Nature Reserve. It was a promising place however I was running out of time, so a few quick checks before heading off to meet up with Deb and Kirstie in Perth.  Only found some great Dark banded greenhood specimens.

Boyatup – 1st visit of the 17/18 Season

30/7/2017

Mid morning we head off along Fisheries Road east to Boyatup. Our first point of call is a gravel pit just past where the bitumen runs out. After driving slowly in and checking the spot where we found Redbeaks last year, we come up empty, with nothing worthy found. So we head back to Boyatup Hill ( Mud Map SE 40 ) and head in on the track. First find is a Donkey Orchid which has something foreign stuck on it’s labellum, while his stem mate has his labellum nibbled off a bit. Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘Green Range’).

Further along the track Deb spots the first Spider orchid, so we park up and have a good look around. Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila)  is the only species I am certain of that is included in our finds, however they would all belong to the Filamentosa complex.

Profile comparison photos – Wispy spider orchids, unsure of exact species though.

Whilst I am on the ground taking photos Deb yells with excitement. She has found the first King Spider orchid of this season, in full flower. Only the one, but a great find. Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) 

Many more variations of Wispy spider orchids found so had to take more snaps

Further along the track we finally find some different orchids. Deb spots the first fully formed Jug Orchid (Pterostylis recurva). A sole snail orchid of unknown species is also found.

Then a patch of blue grabs our attention. A Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which appears to be double headed, however two very close stems prove this to be two individuals flowers.

This is how we get our photos. Very close to the subject. Wind and shadows can be tricky

The track is getting a bit overgrown so Deb parks the Triton up and whilst waiting for me, who is walking the track, she finds some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) . A bite to eat then we both set off on foot towards Boyatup Hill.

First finding is another Jug orchid which is nearly fully opened, followed by some more Mosquito orchids and then a Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata).

Further along more Jugs, Mosquitoes growing in the median strip of the track and Blue beards in a wet mossy area.

We then break out from woodlands into open health and find some more donkey orchids and a patch of snails Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva) again in the median strip of the track. Also a lone Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) and some more Spider orchids are found.

We now keep trekking along and start skirting the hill looking for a way up as the rocks look very steep from this side. Unfortunately the track runs out so we bash our way through and scramble onto the rock only to be driven back by a bees nest. So we push around the base of the rock and cross over a vegetated gully, where we find some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata),  to finally get on the rock.

After looking around the rock we make our way to the side where our bush track is and Deb finds a likely way down. No orchids were found on the rock which was disappointing however the views are amazing. We made the way down the rocks on our backsides as it was very steep and slippery. Safely on the ground we now bash through the bush and find the track back to the Triton. More photos of Spiders, Snails and Blue Beard orchids taken on the walk back along the track.

Arrived back at the Triton and had a cuppa then decided it was time to head home as it is getting on to 4pm. We get back onto Fisheries Rd and head west, when we decide to check out the track just before the line of pine trees. This  patch was shared with us by Deb Witt, a fellow orchid and nature lover. A short way in we pull over for a look but nothing grabs our attention. I decide to walk ahead whilst Deb continues her search on the opposite side of the track. Only found a few rosettes before I see a flower that looks orchid like so I check it out.. WooHoo it is a Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea).

The further along we go the more we find, however some look at little different with longer sepals and colour variations. Hybrids??? It is now getting late so we turn around and on the way back we even find some Wispy Spider orchids. Then low and behold a solitary Donkey orchid. Being 5pm the light is fading fast so last photos taken with flash.

Boyatup Hill lives up to the reputation of my Mud Map reference book as we found:

Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘Green Range’).

Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila)  

Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora)

Jug Orchid (Pterostylis recurva)

Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis)

Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta)

Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata)

Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva)

Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata)

Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata)

Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea)

plus snail and wispy spider orchids which I was not confident to name and the possible Hybrid Dancing spider orchids.