2019 Road Trip – Ravensthorpe to Nunijup Lake

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Wansbrough

24/08/2019

Last night we packed up the Triton and camper and made our way over to Ravensthorpe where we stayed the night with our son, Tim, in his small rental. This was to put us 2 hrs ahead so the drive to Albany would not have to be so rushed. Little did we know that Albany was not to be our destination as planned.

Leaving at a leisurely 9.00am from Tim’s place we made our first stop at the Ravensthorpe silo’s, which have been painted as large banksia trees with their associated wildlife. We have driven past, but never stopped over the years, so we actually took the time to stop and appreciate them this once.

Just east of Ravensthorpe is one of our favourite stops. Situated in the Cocanarup Timber Reserve , Kukenarup Memorial provides a 250m walk trail which always turns up an orchid or two. Today is no exception. Just before the picnic shelter, the unique Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) is our first find,of the trip and this individual is covered in dew. These orchids flower August to October from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

Nothing more found close to the picnic shelter so we head off along the walk trail. First up we find some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which are found over a vast area from the Murchison River to Israelite Bay during a long flowering period, May to October.

Next up are the small Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower July to October in an area between Northampton and Grasspatch. Compared to the other greenhoods these orchids have very thin stem leaves.

The the first of many donkey orchids is found. They have little markings to them and based on location could be one of three possible species. Based on the lack of colouring I will name these ones the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which are found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe during the months July through September.

Also found were the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is found from Geraldton to Israelite Bay during the months August through October. Other common names for this orchid are Re-curved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.

We are then lucky enough to find a nice white spider orchid in flower. This orchid also has an orchid spider hiding on it. The flower itself was not large so I will be naming this specimen the Southern white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. australora) which is found between Fitzgerald River National Park and Millar’s Point during the months of September and October. We are 1 week from September so am happy with the fact it is still August.

Time to move on, so we head west towards Jerramungup. Whilst driving we hear from Richard. He is unwell, so will vist the doctor and rest up a day to see if he will make the trip at all. We no longer need to get to Albany by 1pm so we decide to now take it more slowly and check out some other areas. Therefore our next stop is a new location on the corner of Quiss Road and South coast Hwy (Mud Map SE 26) We could not find Mud Map SE27 though which should have been on the highway just before Quiss Road. . Parking off Quiss Rd we walk along a fire break and immediately spy a Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) which also flower August to October however only in a smaller range from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged. Also found nearby was another Jug orchid.

Next we find some small donkey orchids which appear different to the ones found near Ravensthorpe. The labellum is broader and the lateral sepals are not crossed. However some others found have crossed lateral sepals so I believe them to be more Western wheatbelt donkey orchids. Then another new orchid for the trip appears. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is found between Paynes Find and Israelite Bay during August and September.

Then a very colourful snail orchid is found. From the length of the lateral sepals, number of stem leaves and the shape of the rosette leaves I will be naming these the Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) which flower July to September in a range from Lake Cronin to Esperance.

The further we searched the more Western tiny blue orchids, Sugar orchids, Jug orchids and Brittle snail orchids were found. Then a patch of spent greenhoods was found, before a nice in flower specimen was found . Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which have a long flowering period of April to September within a range from Perth to Balladonia.

11.30am so we had better move on. Plan to stop in Jerramungup to grab some lunch, however the cafe had closed it’s kitchen 5 mins before we got there. We cross the road to the supermarket and grab some supplies for tonight’s camp and then move on towards Ongerup. We decide to grab a bite to eat at the Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre. So glad we did as the meal was awesome and very well priced. As we had previously found orchids along Jaekel Street we again stop just before the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. On the left road verge is a cluster of Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp.flava) which flower over 6mths from July to December in a vast range from Geraldton to Israelite Bay.

Whilst I’m busy taking photos of the cowslips, Debbie has skirted further into the scrub in her search. She calls out that she has found a different spider orchid, so I push my way towards her. However on my way in I stumble across a donkey orchid. This one appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which is found flowering from July to September in a coastal, near coastal range from Denmark to Esperance. The darker markings set them apart from the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid which is much paler.

Then I arrive at Debbie’s spider orchid. Yes it is a new species for this trip. Debbie has found the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which flowers during the months August to October in a range from Northampton to Jerramungup. It is quite distinctive with its usually smooth-margined labellum and dense band of calli.

Further afield we find some sugar orchids and large numbers of donkey orchids. Deb heads back to the Triton whilst I make my way to the Gnowangerup – Jerramungup Road .

Parking the Triton on the Gnowangerup – Jerramungup Road , Deb joins me to check a patch where more donkeys orchids can be seen. There I come across a poor green spider orchid that had been eaten by insects. Thinking this may be the only one found , I grab a photo. Then close by more green spider orchids are found. They are Fringed mantis orchids (Caladenia falcata) which flower between Wongan Hills and Jerramungup during the months August to October.

Also found around the green spider orchids were many more donkey, cowslip, sugar and drooping spider orchids.

It’s nearly 2pm so we had better keep moving. We drive through Gnowangerup and onto Tambellup. From here we head south along the Great Southern Highway and pull into Wansbrough Nature Reserve looking for a possible overnight stop. Coincidentally this is also a Mud Map location. (Mud Map SC 13) On the drive into the reserve we spy a white spider orchid and more donkey orchids. The only place to set up camp was way to close to the highway, so we turned around and on the way out took some photos of the orchids found. From the location I feel the donkey orchids are Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and the white spider orchids are Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) which flowers August to October in a range from Moora to Esperance.

Also found were some Jug orchids and some very dark coloured donkey orchids. Unsure if they are just a dark variant or another species. I will leave them un-named for now.

Hopping back in the Triton we are nearly flown away by the number of mosquitoes that had entered the cab. Definitely not a camping spot. So now where will we go? Quickly checking the maps we settle on Nunijup Lake (Mud Map SC 20) which is west south west of Tenterden and about 50kms away. We arrive at the lake and park up on the deserted tennis courts between the clubhouse and toilets. Also nearby is an old campfire pit. After setting up the camper we head off into the bush looking for wood. It is on this search that I come across some more dark donkey orchids. However these ones appear to be the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia) which flower September to December between Albany and Perth. The uniformity to the colour of the dorsal sepal and lateral lobes of the labellum, plus the hanging lateral sepals, lead me to this classification.

More pansy orchids are found along a track to a fallen tree, where I see a spider orchid, whilst picking up broken branches for the fire. The distinct colouring and location provide easy identification. This is the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila) which is found from the Porongurup Range to Manjimup in the months August to October. I race back to camp to advise Debbie of my find. We both go back and then look farther afield. Many more spider orchids are found, some in clumps.

Also found more Purple pansy orchids however light was fading fast so we headed back to camp and settled down for a night around the campfire.

End of day one and we have possibly found 18 different orchid species. An amazing start to our Road Trip.

Boyatup Bounty after Bush Fire

Day Trip

10/08/2019

A weekend away, out East of Esperance, is planned. So after breakfast we hitch up the camper and head out Fisheries Road. Our first point of call is our Coolinup road site. (Mud Map SE 37,38) There is finally some water around, so we make our way into the site and first up find the small Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) still covered in rain drops. There also appears to be some Cream spider orchids (Caladenia horistes) intermixed in. These orchids flower August to early October in a southerly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia. These two spider orchids have overlapping locations and both belong to the Caladenia filamentosa complex. They differ in flower colour and wispiness of petals and sepals.

Then underneath the thick tea tree bushes Debbie comes across some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) which flower between Perth and Israelite Bay in the months June to August. These differ to the similarly located Midge orchid by the broad labellum.

Nearby more spider orchids are found with neighbouring Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which are yet to fully open.

Also nearby are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Mallee banded greenoods (Pterostylis arbuscula) which differ in the number of flowers, colouring of flowers and overall height of the plant.

Venturing across the road more greenhoods are found as are many spider orchids in large groupings, especially protected under the tee tree bushes. The surprise finding was a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) way passed its prime, but still another species located for the day. A nice solo Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is found plus Deb stumbles across a small beautiful Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber). This one was only 20mm in height.

Such great finds already and we have yet to arrive at our planned camping area, so we can set up and have lunch. So off we head towards Thomas River campground.

Oh no! The road to Cape Arid National Park is closed so we cannot reach Thomas River. Now what?

As we are close to Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40), we decide to go there first and figure out where to camp later. Luckily Deb had pre-made lunch so we quickly have a bite to eat then make tracks for Boyatup.

At out usual first stop, along the track in, we immediately find a Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) on the right hand side together with an unusually coloured donkey orchid. Both are still covered in rain drops.

Moving to the left hand side of the track, as it is less bushy, we find some Cream spider orchids, Western wispy spider orchids, Dancing spider orchids and Jug orchids.

Finally a different spider orchid is found. Appears to be from the King spider orchid complex. From it’s appearance I believe it to be a Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora), which flowers August to October between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid. May be the closely related Heberle’s spider orchid which has a similar appearance and range.

Time to walk further along the track towards the old gravel pit. Mallee banded greenhoods, another spent Hare orchid and some Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta) are found. These little blue orchids flower from August to October between Dumbleyung and Mt Ragged.

As we reach the other side of gravel pit the landscape turns black. A bush fire had swept through the area last summer, so this is why we planned a visit to this location. We have yet to witness the orchid bloom after a summer fire. Fingers crossed the devastation of the bush fire does lead to new life and we will finally get to observe this.

Immediately to the left as we exit the gravel pit is a lonely Dancing spider orchid growing in the blackened soil. Deb finds some Blue beards nearby which stand out easily against the black.

Then the first pink speck is sighted. Pink bunny orchids begin to appear in scattered groups all over the place. Many more blue beards are found, some growing in clumps. Other Mallee banded greenhoods and Western tiny blue orchids are also found. We are able to explore a much greater area as the fire has cleared away all the undergrowth, leaving just blackened bushes and trees.

We reach the spot we usually park the Triton as the track gets very thin and would scratch the hell out of the paintwork. However we have the camper in tow, so cannot turn around here. So we have to drive further up the track to the granite rocks so we can attempt to turn around. Not that we drive only, as we park and go exploring every five minutes or so. We chew up time but get to explore so much more ground.

Our usual orchid at this part of the track is the Mosquito orchid however only a few leaves are visible in the burnt bushes at the edge of the track. It is not until we venture further afield do we locate some in flower. Also found in this part of the search were more Blue beards and Western wispy spider orchids.

We make it to the turn around spot of the flat granite however the ground between the rock is very soft, so it is a very boggy event, however Deb as always gets us through. Now we are facing the way out we can breathe a bit easier. So why not keep on expanding our search towards the hill itself.

Woohoo we have found our first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) of the day. These bright yellow beauties always brighten up the day. Then at the base of the hill we discover a vast patch of Western Wispy spider orchids growing under the protection of a bush.

Moving back down towards the Triton we find more Pink bunny orchids, Cream spider orchids, Mallee banded greenhoods and Blue beards.

Then another yellow orchid is found. The Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) is recorded as being located between Denmark and Esperance, however http://www.esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com records this orchid as being found east of Esperance and the Orchids of South-West Australia (4th Edition) range map indicates occurrence in Cape Arid, so I am confident is this classification.

Then in an area that would have been impenetrable prior to the fire we find a fully open Esperance king spider orchid. A neighbouring dual headed specimen though appears to be the closely related Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) due to it’s narrowly clubbed petals and sepals. They flower September and October in a range from Augusta to Cape Arid, so this must be an early flowering one or a mis-classification. Both are very attractive large spider orchids non the less.

We just noticed it is now after 3.30pm and we have yet to decide where we will camp the night, so quickly head back to the Triton and drive back to Fisheries Road. Our thought s were to head into Alexander Bay and camp at the shire campground, but then decided the way in will be wet and slippery, given the closure of Cape Arid National Park, so we decide we will instead go home and sleep in our own bed.

That being decided we breathed a sigh of relief and headed back West. A detour via Condingup Lookout (Mud Map SE 39) though could not be bypassed. We drive up to the Telstra tower and park up. First spot to check is the granite rock outcrop. However on the way there we discover some beautiful snail orchids hiding on the edge of the track. These little guys appear to be the Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva) which are found from the Stirling Ranges to Israelite Bay. They darken with age and flower June through to August, hence the reddish tinge.

We arrived at the granite outcrop and the large hood of snails had already been and flowered and the nearby mosquito orchids were nowhere to be seen. Disappointed I was walking back to the Triton when Deb decides to go into the scrub on a wide berth back. I’m glad she persevered as she stumbled across many Fawn snail orchids and Pink bunny orchids flowering in the moss on the flat granite rocks. Also found were some Green range donkey orchids, Blue beards and Western wispy spider orchids. Not a bad detour Deb!

Finally back in the Triton we make our way down the hill, stopping to check on the Bird orchids growing alongside the road. The rosettes are still growing up but still a way off flowering yet. Also found a finished Scented Autumn leek orchid.

Moving on as it it now 5pm we park down on our usual spot on the Lookout Road and have a quick scout for anything in flower. We find a possible Cream spider orchid, a very old Hare orchid and some Pink bunny orchids. One pink bunny was found flowering in a field of non flowering bunny leaves. I took a photo to show how the leaves change when they flower.

So as the light fades we make our way back to Esperance, thankful that we got to witness how some orchids thrive after a summer bush fire. Pink bunny orchids were very prolific at Boyatup Hill as were the Blue beards. It was hard to walk around without feeling like you are stepping on some, but we did our best to minimise this by treading carefully. All up we found 16 orchid species flowering with 1 yet to flower (Bird) and 1 finished (Leek). 14 of the found orchids were located at Boyatup so the bush fire did produce a bounty for us to discover. Well worth the day trip, it is a pity the weekend planned did not occur.

You may have noticed some of the photos have a Scale card produced by the Wild Orchid Watch (WOW) a citizen science project arranged by the The University of Adelaide. Please refer to their web page at http://www.wildorchidwatch.org plus their Facebook and Instagram pages. If you are based in Australia please register your interest, as an App is close to being released which will allow you to record your findings.

2018 Road Trip – Holland Track and Beyond – Day 2

Uncategorized

25/08/2018

The previous afternoon in the fading light we checked out the area around the camper where we found little but rubbish. Deb and I split up for the walk back to the camper and I was lucky enough to stumble across a shell orchid in a runoff. No camera or phone so returned this morning to grab a snap. They appear to be the Dwarf shell orchid (Pterostylis brevichila) as they do not have a protruding labellum.  They flower July through September in a range between Hyden and Mt Ragged. Found a few more so grabbed some pics before heading off to Broomehill, where we are meeting up with Richard.

We make our way back to the South Coast Hwy and head west to Kukenarup memorial, another favourite haunt. Straight up we find a Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) which flower August to early October in a range from Israelite Bay to Kalbarri.   

Many more donkey orchids were found which appear to be the South coast donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) due to the recurved lateral sepals. The Green range donkey orchid occupies the same range however is recorded as having reflexed lateral sepals.  Also located was a great specimen of the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which flower August to October from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. 

Time to move on, so we make tracks for Jerramungup, where we stop for toilets and also purchased some forgotten items. Next stop is just past Ongerup, in Jaekel St,  where we find more donkey orchids. This time though they appear to be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) which flower July to September from Denmark to Esperance. Nearby though are some pale yellow donkey orchids which could be Western wheatbelt donkey orchids (Diuris brachyscapa) which flower July to September in a range bordered by York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. The back on the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road  we find the Green range donkey orchid in large numbers.  

Also located in these areas were a few scattered Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), which are found over a huge range from Paynes find to Israelite Bay, flowering during August and September.  Plus a nice bright yellow Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), which flowers July to early December in a range from Geraldton to Israelite Bay.

Arriving in Broomehill half an hour late, we find Richard and his matching Red Triton and camper parked outside the hotel. We make our way on foot to the Henry Jones Winery & Café for a coffee and one of the best BLT in Turkish bread ever. A leisurely walk back to the Tritons through the village of Broomehill, then we head out to an old historic bridge for a look. At the Wadjekanup Bridge we put the Tritons through a river crossing which they pass with flying colours. If only the water was this clear on the Holland Track !!!!. 

 

Now the adventure really begins. We head north out of Broomehill, before turning right over the railway line and onto a single lane track. Welcome to the “Holland Track”. Looks great so far, as we drive down between green farming fields, before turning west into a patch of bush. Here we chose to camp the night, at a nice early time of 4.15pm. After making camp, I decide to check out the location for any orchids. Deb and Richard are collecting wood and lighting our camp fire, when I stumble across some large bright Cowslip orchids and a large hood of Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) 

Debbie and Richard now join the hunt. Many more Cowslips and Snail orchids were found. Debbie also finds some great Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which flower late May to October between Murchison River and Israelite Bay in WA, plus they are also found in NSW, VIC, TAS and SA. 

Getting late and with fading light we head back to the camp fire for a relaxing night after such a great day finding 10 orchid species.

Last Hoorah of our Holidays

Day Trip, Road Trip

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 19 – Tutanning Nature Reserve to Harrismith

Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Toolibin, Tutanning

19/9/2017

After breakfast we go for a more leisurely search around our campsite for any orchids we may have missed in our late search yesterday. Ant orchid (Caladenia roei), Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata), Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) were again located as was one Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) with a dangling labellum. Also found was a yet to open Thelymitra species.

We then hurried back to camp, packed up a headed back along the track we drove down late yesterday afternoon. First up were some Donkey orchids, which due to the location they must be Western wheatbelt donkey orchids (Diuris brachyscapa).

Further along we find more Cowslip orchids plus better specimens of the Fringed mantis orchid.

And finally after a very long spell we finally find another Pterostylis specimen, the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva).

Our final stop along the bush track was at a small granite outcrop, where we found some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera)  and some yet to flower Elbow orchids (Spiculaea ciliata)

We leave Tutanning N. R. and head on down to Wickepin, where we have a yummy lunch, before heading over to visit Toolibin N. R.. On the track in we spy many Fringe mantis orchids, some with two flowers per stem.

We decided to take a walk alongside the track to see what other orchids may be around. We came across Cowslip orchids, Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) and Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia).

We then drove to the parking area and attempted the lake walk, however it was closed due to flooding from recent heavy rain, which had washed away some of the infrastructure. I decided to walk back along the track and Deb drove the Triton, which proved fortuitous as I found some Ant orchids and Deb found some spider orchids.

Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) is the obvious specie as it has a smooth margined labellum with distinctive striping.

Final find before hitting the Wickepin-Harrismith Rd is a great Pink fairy twin.

As soon as we got on the Wickepin-Harrismith Road we took a track near Dulbining Lake,  that seemed to run adjacent to the road and drove along in 1st gear with our heads hanging out the window looking. Some spider orchids are seen on the left hand side of the track, so we alight from the Triton to check them out. They appear to be Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata).

Moving slowly along this track we find many other orchids, starting with Cowslip orchids, Fringed mantis orchid and Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea).

Then we find what we initially thought were more Ant orchids. However on closer inspection we have found Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) which flowers August to October between Mullewa and Ravensthorpe. In the middle of all these is a lone Ant orchid.

Final orchids found before getting back on the sealed road were what appeared at first to be Common spider orchids. However the flowers had much broader labellum’s and if they were fully unfurled, long petals and sepals. I am going to name these Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) which flower August to early October in a range from Wongan Hills to Walpole.

Travelling west we arrive at Harrismith and as the weather was looking like rain we decide to book a room rather than risk getting our canvas camper wet. Rather than a room we take the donger which has its own shower and toilet. Was really cheap and rough but was sufficient for 1 night. After unpacking into the bedroom we decide to take a drive around the self drive wildflower tour. Our first orchids were more Fringed  mantis orchids. (Mud Map SE 10)

Also found were Western wheatbelt donkey orchids, Sugar orchid and Jug orchids.

Back just before sunset, so we have a shower and get changed into fresh clothes, then make our way over to the Oasis Hotel for a meal, game of pool and a few drinks to celebrate finding 15 different orchids.

Road Trip – Day 2 – Wagin to Kwolyin

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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.

Gibson to Myrup

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19/8/2017  On a tip from our friend Deb Witt we are heading north of Gibson to check out what lies within 50km of home.  However first we have our standard fully cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird & Animal Park and then our obligatory check of Helms Arboretum.  Just past the large green log sign at the entrance we find some Esperance King spider orchids (Caladenia decora) of various colours.

We also checked out our Curly Locks but it still has a way to go before flowering. Fingers crossed it is still there when we return from our September holidays.

Turning east from the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we park opposite a patch of scrub with a small lake. Just off the road where we parked Deb spots the first orchid of the day. Donkey orchids are found everywhere on the North roadside verge. Unable to verify exact species as the location does not match any in the books. Possible two different types found as one is duller yellow with hanging sepals and the other is brighter yellow with re-curved and crossed sepals.

We cross the road to the lake side and start looking around when Deb calls me over as she has found a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). This distraction nearly had me  walking into a huge Golden orb spider (Nephila edulis). The poor old Hare orchid was well and truly finished for the season.

More searching and we turn up more Donkey orchids and the first Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) sprouting from the many leaves spotted. In fact there were so many Red beak and Hare orchid leaves around you sometimes could not help stepping on them.

The first Pterostylis orchids of the day were also found. Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Jug orchid , plus of course some more Donkey orchids.

Looking under a tallish shrub I notice a patch of Banded greenhoods so make my way under to get a photo. Telling Deb of my find I glance down and there is this very small white coloured orchid. It happened to be a small Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) which was partially opened. I grabbed some photos and then moved over to take some Banded greenhood photos whilst Deb took some of the Sugar orchid. This little orchid actually fully opened over a period of a few minutes so my next shots were of it fully open.

Pic below is of the Banded Greenwood I mentioned above that lead me to the sugar orchid.

We then made our way back to the Triton and moved further West and turned North along the railway line. We parked up and had a bite to eat before venturing out for another hunt. Deb spied another Sugar orchid and I took a photo of the habitat it was found in and what we get up to taking these photos.

Another Red beak sprouting, lone Snail orchid and Dancing spider (Caladenia discoidea) are found in this area, before we head over the railway line.

Immediately we find what we thought was another sugar orchid, however on returning home and checking the photos on our computer we notice it is in fact a Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta). These are found August to early October from Dumbleyung to Mount Ragged. We now laugh that we were so blinded to the fact they were two very different orchids, just both so small, so just appeared to be variants in colour only.

This side of the railway line proved very fruitful with many orchids found. Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi), more Western tiny blue orchids, more Redbeaks emerging,  further Dancing orchids and even more Donkey orchids.

Time to head south so we make tracks west until a road heading south is found. At a place where the road had been straightened we take the old track and stop for lunch. Deb spies two Dancing spider orchids and finally a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) fully opened.  I locate some more Donkey orchids then on the other side of this small triangular piece of bush I find some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids. More Donkey orchids found then onward further south.

We stop as the track turns east to a farmers paddock and check around as we can see more Donkey orchids from the Triton. After looking around only Donkeys found here.