On my planned RDO I revisit Dempster Head (Mud Map SE 34), this time in the company of my dearest Deb, who only has the morning free, due to her night shift roster. We head off in the direction of the helmet orchids and like my last visit the snail orchids are first orchids found. ID again up in the air.
Then Deb finally gets to see the little Crystal helmet orchids (Corybas limpidus) in flower at Dempster Head. We visit two of my three known locations and capture some more photos of theses small orchids.
Also found were Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) in various locations along the track. I used a nearby rock once to assist with focusing, as the overcast day made focusing on these small orchids rather difficult.
Deb then finds some shell orchids in flower… So Happy as it has been a few years since we last found them on Dempster Head. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogerii) is a southern coastal shell orchid found between Binningup and Esperance. The rosettes of unflowering orchids are commonly found with only a few orchids flowering usually located. Oddly enough flowering shell orchids lack that same rosette.
A small patch of yellow catches our eye and we are rewarded with finding the Spectacled donkey orchid (Diuris conspicillata) which is geographically restricted to coastal granite outcrops near Esperance. The dark markings on the labellum lateral lobes are said to give the orchid the impression it is wearing spectacles.
After nearly 2 hours searching for orchids it time to head home so Deb can have a rest before her shift starts at 2pm.
To get the most out of my RDO, after Deb heads off to work, I decide to go check out another location close to town. We refer to this spot as our Myrup location. Parking up just after 3pm I am shocked to find that someone had decided to dump a large amount of household rubbish in the bush, rather than pay at the Shire refuse site. Some people make you shake your head in their total disrespect for the environment. To add to this horror the Shire has also graded the road verges and widened the road so a lot of gravel and destroyed vegetation has just been pushed onto the vegetated verge.
It is right on the edge of this devastation that I come across some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora)flowering in various colours. Some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchids or similar.
Across the road I come across many more in flower, with more still to come, given they are recorded as flowering from mid-August to October.
In the middle of these large bright king orchids I come across some small white spider orchids. The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) is a widespread orchid occurring between Kalbarri and Esperance. These little guys were definitely dwarfed by the large Esperance king spider orchids.
A successful RDO spent searching for orchids now comes to an end. Work tomorrow 😦
Deb arrives home from her night shift and will spend a quiet day at home, however I am taking a friend, another Deb, out East to see what our favourite locations will produce in mid Winter.
Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) is our first destination for the day. As usual we stop along the track prior to reaching the gravel pit and immediately find some spider orchids in flower. They appear to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) due to the larger labellum and less pendulous petals and sepals.
Then to confuse matters a couple of what appears to be the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) are located. The thinner labellum and more pendulous sepals and petals alludes to this identification.
Next up a colourful Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is located growing near a mound of dirt pushed up in making the gravel pit. They are one of the largest spider orchids found in Western Australia.
Another regular found out this way is the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is also commonly known as the Blue fairy orchid. The genus Pheladenia is monotypic as it contains only the one species. They come in various shades of blue and purple plus there is a white variety, which is very rare to locate.
Around the edge of the gravel pit in a damp location more spider orchids are found, of varying types and colourings.
Then growing in patches of vegetation in the gravel pit itself, donkey orchids are found in flower. Due to the colouring of the orchids found I believe them to be Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) as they are one of only a few Diuris orchids flowering this far east.
Moving up to the track leading from the gravel pit we find the bright and colourful Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta), which is the only clubbed spider orchid found this far east. Up-swept petals are also a distinctive feature.
Moving into the burnt area, from last summer’s bush fire, we come across a couple of donkey orchids and a Blue beard.
Further along the track just past the area we used to drive up to and turn around I find some small Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing alongside the track. The large dark labellum distinguishes this orchid as Mosquito and not the related Midge.
As we plan to visit a few more locations today we make tracks back to the Triton and along the way find some clumped Blue beards and a poor Esperance king spider orchid with all his tepals nipped off.
We now move onto Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. After a spot of lunch at the campgrounds we head to Len Otte Nature Trail and locate some Mosquito orchids growing under the shrubs on the granite incline, which is a first for me.
As we had found no other orchids by this part of the trail I decide to head back to the Triton and move on to another location, Alexander Bay. Snail orchids are found under shrubs growing on the coastal granite. Again I will not attempt to name these. One has very short lateral sepals however they may have been nipped off or are actually that short.
I contact Deb on the phone and she directs me to area where she had found the Esperance king spider orchids. This was great as I missed these on my last visit to this spot.
The afternoon is moving along quickly so time to head off for the last planned stop. At the top of Condingup Peak(Mud Map SE 39) I park the Triton then show Deb the granite lookout where snail orchids are usually found. However first up at the edge of the track I locate a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) which is very distinctive due to its mauve colouring, which is unique this far East.
Also found along the track edge were some snail orchids. They appear to be Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi)due to the fawn colouring of the flower and length of lateral sepals. They are also found growing on the granite lookout, however in much lower numbers than found in previous years.
Moving along the ridge of the Telstra installation a small white spider orchid is found. Appears to be a beautiful specimen of the Common spider orchid.
In the moss growing on the flat granite outcrops of the ridge many snail orchids are found. They are much shorter in stature, however still have longish lateral sepals and a rosette with pointed veiny leaves, so may still be Brittle snail orchids. I will leave the identification for now.
It’s 5pm so light is running out fast and taking photos is getting more difficult so we climb back up to the Triton and head back to Esperance. A great day out and about hunting down orchids and sharing the day with our friend Deb C.
Its back to work for me, however Deb decides to take Lorraine and Ken out further east for the day. The trip takes them out to Thomas River in the Cape Arid National Park. From here they travelled back west to Alexander Bay located at Howick in the Shire of Esperance.
Deb finds and takes photos of a few orchids at Alexander Bay just to rub it in that I was not there… LOL
<<<<<<< Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) with their distinctive veined pointed rosette leaves. Fawn colouring is also a feature.
Coastal snail orchid (Pteostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) grow in consolidated sand dunes from Bremer Bay to Israelite Bay. >>>>>>
<<<<<<<< Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) are found between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid during the period August to October.
Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) are found from Denmark to Israelite Bay during the period July to September. >>>>>>
Looks like they had a great day with beautiful sunny skies. Soooo jealous.
I have taken an Rostered Day Off (RDO) today so I can spend some more time with my sister Lorraine and her hubby Ken. Yesterday we went north of the South Coast Hwy and detoured back east of Esperance. Today we are going west and staying within 50kms of the coast.
Our first point of call is along the edge of our famous Pink Lake. Here we discover some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing in the dense undergrowth. These unusual orchids flower during the winter months over an area stretching from Perth to Israelite Bay.
Nothing more found other than Pterostylis rosettes, with some in bud, so we move onwards. Next stop is the Stokes National Park camping grounds. Actually we find orchids before the campground, just growing along the roadside. First up are some wispy type spider orchids. Due to the colouring of the flowers and the larger leaf width, I believe these orchids to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians). As the name suggests it is a common orchid with a large distribution, Kalbarri to Cape Arid National Park. It also has a long season, flowering from July to mid-October.
Intermixed with the spider orchids were patches of yellow. Bright yellow South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’)are found from Denmark to Munglinup during the winter months. They were first recognised as distinct in 1999 when collected near Munglinup, which is approximately 20kms to the west of our current location.
We finally make it to the campground and it was a let down with only a Dark Banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) in flower and a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) finished for it’s season. We did however stop and have morning tea overlooking the Stokes Inlet.
We move on further west along the South Coast Hwy, before turning south down Springdale Road. We pullover to the side of the road at Springdale Nature Reserve for a quick check. Straight away we find the Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta) which blooms from late-July till mid-October between Bindoon and Esperance. Prominently clubbed petals and sepals ,plus the dark red labellum with dark red calli are distinctive features.
Also found were the South coast donkey orchids, with many more to come. However we must push on as it is now past lunch time and we still have Munglinup Beach campground to check out.
Well first up we drive down to the Oldfield River and park up on the granite rock bank, so we can have a quick scout around. Other than one South coast donkey orchid and many leaves in bud, nothing much was found so we quickly move on.
We now venture down to the Munglinup Beach campground (Mud Map SE 33) and I go looking for the elusive helmet orchid, whilst Deb takes Lorraine and Ken down to the beach. I come across loads of leaves and then find some sprouting flowers, however they are not fully open. By this time Deb has made her way into the Agonisflexuosa grove and we both simultaneously find fully open ones in different patches. They are confirmed as being the Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flowers from July to early-September in coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. We had to lie flat on the ground to get the photos as they are only 20mm in height.
Very happy to have found these beautiful small orchids flowering as they are listed for the Mud Map reference. Also found underneath the Agonisflexuosa trees are snail orchids. They appear to be the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) which is found between Bremer Bay and Israelite Bay during the months of July and August. Distinctive features are bloated appearance and small thickened lateral sepals.
Leaving Munglinup Beach we now drive west towards Hopetoun our planned lunch stop. On the way we check out both Starvation Bay and Masons Bay campgrounds. Choosing the bakery for lunch we walk down to the foreshore and finally fill our bellies.
We now head north to Ravensthorpe where we grabbed a ginger ice-cream from Yummylicious Candy Shack. Sooooo good!! After showing Lorraine and Ken the Grain Silo’s, we head west out to Kukenarup Memorial, one of our regular orchid haunts.
Just past the Eagle Wings to the left is a wonderful little Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea)which is found between Israelite Bay and Kalbarri flowering during August, September and October.
Next up we find the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which flowers over along season, May till October. They can occupy many different habitats, (woodlands, shrublands, granite outcrops and forests) over a range from Israelite Bay to the Murchison River. Many specimens are found at this location today.
On the return leg of the trail we find some donkey orchids. As mentioned in the Esperance Wildflowers blog (refer links) the Green Range and South coast donkey orchids overlap in their distribution and have very similar features which makes identifying them so much harder. I will call those found today South coast donkey orchids as the labellum mid lobe has light patches on the edges. However I am open to correction.
Final orchid for the day was the reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which occurs between Geraldton and Israelite Bay from August to October. As it is now past 5pm the light is fading fast, so the pics are not the best, however they still record the finding.
From here it is a quick dash to the lookout on Mt Desmond, east of Ravensthorpe, to catch the sunset. Another wonderful day showing Lorraine and Ken our beautiful SE coast and surrounds.
My sister, Lorraine and her hubby Ken are visiting us for a few days, so today we head out west to Cascade Falls. We are joined by our son Jace and his little family. The water is flowing nicely now it’s mid winter. The grandkids enjoy playing with all the foam caused by the water cascading over the granite rocks. After exploring the shore we set up on a flat area for a picnic lunch.
The little family head home whilst us oldies head off further west on an orchid hunt. This is a first for Lorraine and Ken, so let’s hope we have a successful hunt. We visit Cascade Nature Reserve and go for a check in the scrub/woodlands. With luck I come across some Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila), which we had found here previously. Not as many but still very happy to find them again. Dwarf shell orchids flower during the months of July, August and September over inland areas between Hyden and Mt Ragged.
As the image above shows we also find the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica)which flowers from July till October over a much larger range, Wongan Hills to the South Australian Border. If fact they are also found in all the states of Australia. Another larger specimen was found further into our hunt.
Not much else turning up so we decide to head back to the Triton and stumble across one nice Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata)growing on the edge of the utilities track we are following.
Leaving Cascade Nature Reserve we head back east and stop along Boydell Road. In the road side scrub we locate some donkey orchids. They appear to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs in coastal and near coastal locations between Denmark and Esperance. They flower from July to early September and were only formally named in 2016 from specimens collected in 1995.
Not much else found so we head across the Coolgardie – Esperance Hwy and head into Neridup. Here we visit our favourite blue metal dump site and as we arrive I jump out to walk along the track in to see what I can find. The others drive in ,park up and get out stuff for afternoon tea. I discover some Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi) growing in the gravelly mounds pushed up to create the blue metal dump. These awesome little orchids flower from July to September over an eastern range of Lake Cronin to Esperance. The prominently veined , pointed leaves of the rosette is a distinctive feature of these orchids.
Also on the edge of the cleared area in a slight depression, the spider orchids we found last year were again located. The Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) flowers from July to early October and has an eastern distribution from Kondinin to Madura.
After enjoying afternoon tea we spread out and immediately find some more donkey orchids. They appear to be more Green Range donkey orchids, as the only similarly coloured donkey orchid found this far east is the Yellow granite donkey orchid. However we are not near any granite.
We now cross over Wittenoom Road and come across some Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra) near a small, currently dry, road run-off trench. These orchids flower from May to August over a large mostly inland area from Kalbarri to Esperance. Unlike the Dwarf shell orchid found at Cascade this shell orchid has it’s labellum visible. A little like poking out their tongues.
Getting late in the afternoon and the sun sets early in winter, so we start to make our way back to the Trition. Along the way we find another colourful Donkey orchid, some more Brittle snail orchids and a small speck of blue. Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) in bud but not yet open are found. So as the season moves on, so must we as we have a date around the fire pit at home will all our travelling companions from today.
A great family picnic followed by a successful orchid hunt. Not too bad for a Sunday in mid winter.
Today we plan on visiting Munglinup Beach shire reserve and search for the shell orchids we have previously found there. Other than that we are going to wing it. It is a beautiful sunny winter morning when we head off. I am driving for a change as Deb has just finished night shift.
First point of call is Stokes National Park where we visit the camping area. Here we find many greenhoods. From the colouring of them, they appear to be the Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which occur over a larger range, Mullewa to Esperance in WA as well as Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. They may however be the newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which has a shorter stature and up to 5 flowers only per plant. These occur over a similar range, Northampton to Eyre as well as in South Australia. Both species vary in colour from dark green to brownish-green to reddish-brown.
We now move on and head further west along the South Coast Hwy. Turning south onto Torradup Road which curves west into Springdale Road. We pull over at a burnt patch of scrub, which apparently is Springdale Nature Reserve. A quick look around turns up many Thelymitra, Pyrochis and Caladenia leaves but nothing in bloom as yet.
Heading further west we turn down Munglinup Beach Road and head down to the Oldfield River. On the track in, Deb spies a flowering donkey orchid. So we both jump out to grab a photo of the South coast donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’)which occurs between Munglinup and Denmark. Differs to the Green Range donkey orchid in having a broad mid-lobe to the labellum.
We then drove to the river bank and parked up on the granite. After eating lunch we ventured around looking for orchids in flower. Lots of Caladenia leaves found and only one decent greenhood.
Off to the Munglinup Beach campground we go (Mud Map SE33), as this is our planned stop of the day. Heading into the stabilised dune system we immediately come across a snail orchid, which is not fully formed as yet. From the location and length of the lateral sepals I am going to name this the Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’) which occurs between Esperance and the Stirling Ranges. Also came across lots of what appears to be Corybas leaves.
Pushing through to the base of the dunes Deb successfully discovers some shell orchids in flower. They are found all along the base of the dunes, with many more non-flowering rosettes than flowering orchids, but still flowering in good numbers. The Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii)is a coastal orchid found from Binningup to Israelite Bay during June, July and August. It varies in colour from Green to Brown, as the photos below show. There are 7 named species of shell orchids found in Western Australia.
Further snail orchids are found and many Corybas leaves, with some starting to bud. We will have to re-visit in the coming weeks to see if we can catch them in flower.
Time to move on, so Deb takes a track leading east which we assume will take us to another beach access. Whilst slowly driving along in 1st gear we are both peering out looking for any orchids that may catch our eye. Unbelievably I spy a lone little snail orchid. The Thick-sepalled snail orchid (Pterostylis meridionalis)occurs along the coast from Cape Arid to Esperance. My location is 100km west of this, however I feel its small stature, uniformly thickened lateral sepals and substantial rosette when compared to stature of orchid, confirms my ID. Please correct me if you disagree.
We have travelled into Lake Shaster Nature Reserve whilst heading east, which occurs both west and east of the Shire Reserve at Munglinup Beach. Further along the track we come across many more banded greenhoods, of varying colours and sizes.
Just before we reached the coastline another patch of snail orchids was found. These appear to be further Ravensthorpe snail orchids by their thinner lateral sepals. The bays we found on the coast were beautiful as always. It is now after 3pm so we had better make tracks home.
Backtracking the way we had come, we make a decision to head north up Fuss Road, so as to reach the Hwy sooner. Well that was the plan.
Just shy of the Hwy is the Munglinup Nature Reserve, where we find an access track that just beckoned us to stop. So parking up in an abandoned sand pit, we go on a little exploration down the track on foot. So glad we did as there on the edge of the track is a little spider orchid in bloom. The first one for the 2020 season. 🙂 The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) occurs between Kalbarri and Esperance, with flowering starting in July and progressing until mid-October. This was the only spider orchid found on todays adventure.
Further along the track we come across more banded greenhoods, which seem to be the orchid of the day. Again the variations make it difficult to decide if they are Dark banded, Mallee banded or just Banded.
The day however ended with discovering many donkey orchids in flower, in what appeared to be an abandoned gravel pit, that our track lead to. From the varying width of the mid lobe of their labellum we may have found two species. The South coast donkey orchid as previously found earlier today has a wide mid lobe, whilst the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) has a thinner mid lobe. Both species occur in coastal/near coastal locations from Denmark to Munglinup and Esperance respectively. Flowering times also overlap during the months of July and August.
Light is fading fast now, so we walk back to the Triton, enjoy a hot cuppa, then head home. The moon is already in the sky as we return to Fuss Road. Turning right onto the Hwy we head east as far as Young river where we check out a possible spot for orchids. Here we catch an amazing sunset over the river. What a great way to end a wonderful day trip searching for orchids. We are blessed.
I have taken an RDO today so that we can spend the day with my youngest son’s grandparents-in-law. Deb and I will be introducing them to our wonderful Western Australian orchids.
Heading out East to the farm near Condingup, we enjoy a cuppa before heading off for our day in the great outdoors. We make our way to Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) which we trust will ensure we have a variety of orchids to share with our guests.
On the track into the hill we stop at our usual first location and straight up Deb finds a spent orchid which appears to be the Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’)which flower April to June all the way East to Israelite Bay. On the other side of the track I come across a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) also way past it’s best. These also flower till June and extend to Israelite Bay.
Also found on the same side of the track to the Hare orchids were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which are a common winter orchid flowering over a southerly range, from Perth to Balladonia. Dark variants were also found which may actually be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula), a recently named species which occurs from Northampton to Eyre. This new species is a few flowered short statured orchid with variably coloured flowers. The lateral sepals of the Banded greenhood are not as fleshy as other greenhoods.
Deb as usual, finds the first new orchid species of the the day. The Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) is quite unique amongst the snail orchids, as flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves. Other features include clubbed lateral sepals and an early flowering period, being May to August. They are found between Geraldton and Israelite Bay and can attain a height of 150mm.
Further afield we find another spent Leek orchid and leaves of the Thelymitra genus. Making our way into the abandon gravel pit I stumble across a speck of yellow. Excited to find the first flowering donkey orchid of the season.
I am aware of only 2 donkey orchids that flower east of Esperance. The Beautiful donkey orchid and the Green Range donkey orchid. The Beautiful donkey orchid has distinctive mauve markings and usually grows on granite outcrops so the orchid found must be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis). This orchid flowers from July to early September , so they must be an early risers. They are found West to Denmark in a coastal, near coastal range.
Further into the search we find some Mosquito orchids in bud, Spider orchids in bud and more donkey, leek, greenhood and robust snail orchids, in varying stages of flowering.
We now move on to Thomas River in Cape Arid National Park for lunch. We enjoy lunch in one of the camp kitchens in the upper campground, then make our way down to the beach and head out on the rocks to catch a glimpse of the 4 whales in the bay. On the way back sitting on a stump in the river is a White bellied sea eagle.
Leaving the beach and Thomas River behind us, we head back towards the farm. We make a slight detour at Parmango Road where we pull over to check out the location shared with us late last season. It is after 4pm so a quick search is conducted. Nothing found, then with some luck, I was able to locate a Scented autumn leek orchid with one or two flowers still blooming.
With the light fading fast and the temperature dropping just as fast we jump back in the Triton for the drive back to the farm. We are invited to stay for dinner and finish our day enjoying further great company. I hope our guests enjoyed their day searching for orchids.
We are collected from our home by Eric and his father, for an orchid adventure out east of Esperance. We will be showing them our Boyatup location ( Mud Map SE 40) and in return we get chauffeured and have the chance to discuss our findings, views, information and thoughts on our beautiful terrestrial orchids. Enjoying the great outdoors by taking nothing but photographs and leaving only footprints.
Our Boyatup location had been affected by bushfire last summer, so this will be our first visit since early August. It will interesting to see which orchids are in flower later in the season after a summer bushfire.
As usual we turn off fisheries Road into the track leading to the rock and jump out once the first orchid is spied. Seen by Deb of course :). Following will be photos taken of the orchids found along this first part of the track.