Last Hoorah of our Holidays

22/09/2017

As we came home early from our Road Trip we had to finish our holidays with a final orchid hunt. What better place to check out than Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE40) . Like Helms Arboretum, Boyatup never disappoints. Arriving at 10am we immediately go exploring for orchids. Our first orchid is the Purple enamel orchid ( Elythranthera brunonis).  Closely followed by the small Diuris orchid, from the Bee orchid complex. From the habitat found and the small stature of the plants they appear to be the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa).

In close proximity we come across a Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans), Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), more Purple enamel orchids and Common bee orchids.

Then prior to hopping back in the Triton we find some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) and what appears to be an Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) nearing the end of it’s season.

 We now pass through the gravel pit and head up the track to a spot that allows us to turn around, where we get out have morning tea, then head on up the overgrown track on foot,  towards the granite outcrop. Along this overgrown track we find some Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea), more Cowslip orchids and Esperance king spider orchids, plus some of the small, Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana).

As mentioned Boyatup is a great location and as proof we have already found 8 varieties in the first half hour of looking. What will a few hours bring? We can’t wait to find out.

Next orchid found was a Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans) which is only found between Esperance and Israelite Bay from September to early November.

More yellow spied. Cowslips and Lemon-scented sun orchids found.

Then to our surprise we find a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella), very near it’s season end, but still showing off it’s mauve colouring.

The further along we walk the more we find. More Zebra, Cowslip, Pink Candy, Pointing spider and Beautiful donkey orchids, then something new for the day. We break out of the overgrown track onto an open, damp, low granite rock space about the size of a soccer pitch and find a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata ), but exact identification is uncertain as 3 different species can be found in this location.

Next orchids found were a small grouping of a Caladenia hybrid. One parent is the Cowslip orchid but deciding the other was proving difficult. The other parent does not appear to be the usual Pink fairy orchids as the dorsal sepal hangs forward over the column, which is a feature of the Pink fans.  Reviewing the site esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au  and the Spider Orchids EBook 2018 it appears the other parent to be the Little pink fan orchid.  I would never have picked this due to the recorded location being  West of Bremer Bay. So in my research the EBook mentions a hybrid between these two orchids being photographed in Esperance and the Esperance wildflowers blog records finding the Little pink fan orchid within his 160km radius of Esperance. So I am recording these orchids as (Caladenia flava x Caladenia nana) an unnamed hybrid.

 Before leaving this open area we find our smallest orchid of the day. A Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) which is found September through January in a range from Dongara to Cape le Grand. We are 50km East of this range however the flowers appear wider spaced, lateral sepals are shorter and dorsal sepal is wider, than the related Little laughing leek orchid, so I am happy with my classification.

The track becomes over grown again and we find a lone spider orchid. Appears to be a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) although this is far from certain

Then we come to the low prickly scrub which leads up to the Granite outcrop. Close to the base of the rock is a thick woodland but for now we are searching in thigh high bushes. Amazingly we find a Rattle Beak (Lyperanthus serratus) growing under one of the bushes bordering the track. Further along we find more Rattle beaks pushing through the prickly shrubs.

We don’t have time or inclination to bush bash to the granite rock so after a few more minutes finding further Purple enamel, Pointing spider, Esperance king spider and Zebra orchids we back track to the Triton and move on to another location closer to home, only just.

On a track named Bebenorin Rd we first come across what appeared to be another Esperance king spider orchid, but on closer inspection I believe it to be a Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia herberleana) due to the narrow clubbing of the lateral sepals. These flower September and October in a range from Augusta to Cape Arid which causes them to grow in the same area and at a similar time to the Esperance king spider orchid which makes it difficult to distinguish between them.

Close by we find some Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) and more Cowslip orchids, this time with longer, thinner lateral sepals.

Another first for the day is the Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media) which flowers September through January and ranges from Shark Bay to Eyre, one of the largest ranges of the orchid family in WA.

Getting hungry so we head off to Thomas River for lunch, but not before taking a few more pics.

Just at the entrance to the National Park we find some more Rattle beaks, Lemon-scented sun orchids, Purple enamel orchids and Bee orchids, however only got good pics of the Rattle beaks.

We decide to have lunch at the top campground as they have undercover seating. First though we check out the beach and take a walk up the trail for a bit, looking for the patch of leaves we found months earlier. Nothing doing, so we head back to have lunch. On the track in, Deb spies some blue and we are lucky enough to find a solitary Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) with a Lemon-scented sun orchid neighbour.

We park the Triton in one of the camping bays and quickly look around, finding  a Pointing spider orchid and a King spider orchid, species unknown due to it’s petals and lateral sepals being nibbled off.

After lunch we make our way to the Len Otte nature trail. At the base of the first rise we find a small Laughing leek orchid and further up a some Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia) and  Common bee orchids.

Moving through a wooded part of the trail we find some Western wispy spider orchids, before coming out onto the next clearing. Here we get the fright of our life, with a big, black, curled up snake hiding in the low bushes. We keep to the track from now on, no bush bashing, so to speak.

Now to add to our day the heavens open up and it starts to rain. We try to hurry back but the I see another Blue sun orchid, which appears to be another Coastal sun orchid. Then just as the rain and wind picks up we find some Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) in a new location for this nature trail. Photos with it raining and your lenses fogging up, is not an easy task.

Nearby Deb finds a lone Snail orchid. From location and the length of the lateral sepals I am naming it Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘ Ravensthorpe’), which is found from Stirling Ranges to Esperance, flowering August and September.

Still getting wet, but unperturbed, we still search whilst walking quickly back and find some more spider orchids and cowslip orchids.  No good photos though, due to rain and fogging lenses, so will not post them. Well this was quite a day of orchid hunting, as our holidays draw to an end. However we did finish on a high – 22 species found in just over 4hours of searching.

Road Trip – Day 18 – Walyormouring to Tutanning Nature Reserve

18/09/2017

After breaking camp we head through Goomalling to our first planned stop, Cunderdin Hill lookout. Lots of broken glass and pink everlastings with blue cornflowers thrown in, were the only finds. We made our way down to town centre and visited the famous Ettamogah Pub for lunch.

 After lunch we head off towards Quairading, however we notice a sign for Toapin Weir (Featured Image) so decide to check it out. What an amazing hidden gem this is. Great granite outcrop to explore, flushing toilets, fresh water supply, gas BBQ and picnic tables. We would have stayed here the night had it not been so early in the day.

Now off to explore for orchids with our first find being some spent Prasophyllum gracile complex orchids closely followed by some donkey orchids. Location would suggest them to be Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa). 

Next up we start finding Sun orchids that have yet to open which is frustrating given our long wait in Charles Darwin Reserve. However we finally stumble across some that have opened. The Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) which blooms August to November from Mullewa to South Australia was a sight for strained eyes.

 Much better specimens of the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) including single plants to small clumps of plants were found on the walk back to the Triton.

Now we head off for our over night stay location which we have not decided upon just yet.. How unusual for us.. NOT. We bypassed Quairading instead driving through Dangin and south past Lake Mears to Tutanning Nature Reserve, located in the Dutarning Range. Totally unaware if any suitable camping site would be found we headed West into the reserve and on the drive in we spied some Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). However as light was fading fast, given it was after 5pm, we didn’t stop to take photos as we wanted to find our overnight stop first.  By chance we came across a wonderful cleared site, which must have been some sort of farm or townsite, now abandoned. We quickly set up camp then went exploring. First up we both came across more Cowslips.

Next orchid found by Deb was a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata), which flower August to early November in a range that stretches from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.  My next orchid on the other hand was an Ant orchid (Caladenia roei). We then quickly moved to each others location to grab some photos.

Also found were Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata) . Light is fading fast so we make our way back to camp when we stumble across another Blue china orchid.

Seven species found for the day

Road Trip – Day 15 – Canna to Arrino

15/9/2017

After breakfast I take a little walk around our campsite in Canna (Mud Map N30) and finally find some orchids. It has been many days since we left Charles Darwin Reserve where the last orchids found were located. Pale donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘mid-north’) appears to be the orchid found, with only a few scattered individuals encountered. These orchids flower late August to late September and are found between Moora and Mingenew. Canna being only 60kms NW of Mingenew.

We say our goodbyes to Richard at the Canna Hall, then before heading off, we decide to take the Wildflower walk to Canna Church Rock. First up were more donkey orchids but then we find some Dainty blue orchids (Cyanicula amplexans). At the rock picnic area we come across some Lemon scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) and some Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), plus more donkey orchids.

After the walk we had awesome showers for a donation, then made our way south to Bilya Rock. No real parking area, so we pull alongside the track as best we could with camper trailer in tow. Onto the rock and the only colour immediately visible is Yellow. Lemon-scented sun orchids, Pale donkey orchids and Cowslip orchids were found. Some of the donkey orchids could be Dainty donkey orchids due to the reflexed petals however it is very difficult to tell.

We checked out War Rock which was surrounded by paddocks, so was overrun with weeds. Time to make tracks for Three Springs as we had to get to the bank. We also took the time to have another counter lunch, this time at the Commercial Hotel. We asked for orchid locations at the Tourist bureau and was given a map with places marked for possible sightings, however the lady informed us it has not been a great year and things flowered earlier than usual this season. We made our way around Dookanooka Nature Reserve and was lucky enough to find some Cowslip orchids early on, then much later some Purple enamel orchids (Elythanthera brunonis). First for this season as they flower August to early November on a large range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

Nothing else found so we make tracks to Arrino for our next overnight camp.               Only 5 known species found today, which was a slow start to our orchid hunting as we move south away from the dry north.

Road Trip – Day 9 – Day 14 Charles Darwin Reserve to Canna

9/9 After checking out of Charles Darwin Reserve we make one more trip to the spot on the track to Mongers Well, to see if the sun orchid had finally flowered. Yeehah it has. It is very small Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila). Nearby is another one not 100% open, but a darker colouring, so I took photos of it as well.

I couldn’t pass up some last photos of a Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans)

First day we travelled North up to Paynes Find before heading East towards Sandstone. We camped just off  the road this night.

10/9 In the morning, Deb and Richard tried their hand at some prospecting using a very old metal detector. We lunched at the National Hotel in Sandstone, then after filling up our water tanks, we took the tourist loop around Sandstone before heading West to our next overnight stop at Jundoo Dam on the road to Mount Magnet.

11/9 After stopping at Paynesville cemetery we made it to Mount Magnet for an awesome hot beef roll in the Grand Hotel. After a visit to the Dept of Mines for maps etc to help with the prospecting, we take the tourist route with a planned overnight stop at Garden Rock, near Cue.

12/9 After a walk over the granite rock we head into Cue to check out the town. Very nice old buildings but very empty streets. We now head south looking for the spot we picked from the maps for some prospecting. After having a go finding gold mid afternoon, we find at place to camp for the next 2 nights.

13/9 Deb and Richard have a day gold detecting nearby, whilst I remain at camp. Writing notes for this blog and just relaxing.

14/9 Today Deb and Richard show me some of the areas they visited yesterday and then we make tracks for Yalgoo and further south, Canna for our overnight stop.

Fingers crossed we find some more orchids soon as I’m getting withdrawal pains!!!

Road Trip Day 7 – Camel Soak

7/9/2017

As Charles Darwin Reserve is proving to be very light on orchids this year we have decided to take a day trip to Camel Soak (Mud Map N34) which is to the west. Last year it was a place we found many different species so fingers crossed for this year.

At Lake Monger lookout, on Rabbit-proof Fence Road, just off Wanarra East Road the first orchid found was the  Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans). However in the breakaway we also found many sun orchids yet to open fully.

Travelling down Rabbit-proof Fence Rd we turn East and arrive at Camel Soak. This granite catchment, also known as The Rock Hole was sunk as a watering point for men and their camel teams working on the No 2 Rabbit Proof Fence from 1903 to 1905.

Now to search for some orchids! The Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) is found all around the granite outcrop which is wonderful to see.

I stumble across a new orchid for this far north. Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta)All alone but still a different species finally.

More Donkey orchids and Dainty blue orchids found

Another species found in good numbers. Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava sp. flava)

Richard then spies a Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) and further specimens are found.

Some unopened Yellow and Blue sun orchids were the only other species found.

Many more Dainty blue orchids and Yellow granite donkey orchids were found and photographed.

5 species identified today with 2 Thelymitra species found that had yet to flower for identification.

Road Trip Day 6 – Charles Darwin Reserve

6/9/2017

Well today we take the Woodlands Way Tour which is South of our campsite, on the other side of Wanarra East Road. Over the entire 26km we found one area of Dainty blue orchids and nothing else.

Charles Darwin Reserve
Woodland Way Tour

Road Trip – Day 4 & 5 – Marshall Rock to Charles Darwin Reserve

04-09-2017

After a wonderful night around the camp fire, we wake to another beautiful spring morning. Breakfast eaten, we pack up camp and head to Pergande Sheep Yards. The yards were constructed in the early 1900’s from thin granite slabs harvested from nearby Waicubbing Hill  using the heating/cooling method.

Now for the long drive to Charles Darwin Reserve, with a lunch stop at the Dalwallinu pub. We arrived at the reserve mid afternoon and set up camp ready to tackle the tracks in search of orchids in the morning. The drive into camp though did not bode well for orchids, as it was very very dry.

5/9/2017

Today we take the Salt Lake Tour to the North of our campsite to see if we can find any orchids at all. As expected it took a lot of looking before we found some small Dainty blue orchids (Cyanicula amplexans). These little beauties are found August to early October between Kalbarri to Norseman.

It was another 1/2hr before we found our next orchid species. Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae), which flower August to September and range from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums.

Only 2 species found over the entire 32 kms of the Salt Lake Tour. It is a very stark comparison with August last year when there were orchids and other wildflowers everywhere.

Charles Darwin Reserve
Salt Lake tour