After a sleep in we pack up the Triton and head out east to our rock location off Merivale road. We arrive just in time for lunch, so getting our priorities right, we eat first. Whilst eating, we wander around the old abandoned picnic area and find spent White bunny orchid plants, so we may be a bit late in their season.
Just as we were to head off up the slope to the granite, 2 orchids are found in flower. Based on the leaf size I believe them to be Granite bunny orchids(Eriochilus pulchellus)which as the name suggests occur at granite outcrops from Northcliffe to Balladonia. They can grow up to 150mm in height and can have up to 10 flowers per plant. Further specimens were located as were searched around and on the granite.
On the other side of the granite outcrop I thought I had come across another bunny orchid species. This one though has larger leaves so appears to be the White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus). However on closer inspection they appear to be more Granite bunny orchids. The leaves are just towards the larger size for the species which can be 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8 mm in width. Others were subsequently found, with one having 6 flowers and standing easily 150mm in height.
We then moved onto the other large granite outcrop, however nothing new was found just more Granite bunny orchids. Once we got back to the picnic area I went back to what I thought was a lone orchid growing in the made made embankment which channels the water flowing off the granite away from the picnic site. There turned out to be a bunch of plants with one reaching 430mm in height. Identification confusion as the bunny orchids that reach that height both grow in the south west corner not East of Esperance.
We now decide to move on and head a little further north to our Coolinup Road locations. At the small granite rock location further Granite bunny orchids are found. At our latest location we locate a newly flowering Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and some wonderful Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata). At the granite section of this new location I am sure some of the bunnies found are White bunny orchids (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) as the leaf on one of them is over 50mm in length. Took some photos with coloured card as backdrop to see if the orchid would stand out better. Please provide feedback in comments on preferences.
Off to Stokes National Park today for a walk along the trail from the Day use area to the Benwenerup Campground. We collected a friend (Deb C.) in Esperance to join us on the adventure today. We arrived at the park and after grabbing a water bottle each we commenced the walk by climbing the stairs up the embankment. From here the compacted walk trail follows the embankment with 2 lookouts over the inlet before crossing over the access road for the section to the campground. Only orchids found flowering were the Banded greenhoods.
At the campground further greenhoods were found. So after a short rest we made our way back along the trail to the access road, which we followed back to the day use area. Pictures taken of the Showy Banksia (Banksia speciosa) flowers and Zamia palms (Macrozamia dyeri) which were found in good numbers along this section of the trail. After eating our lunch, we spent some time on the inlet banks, then made tracks back to Esperance. A wonderful day out in the sunny Autumn weather.
We head NE of Esperance today to see if we can find the elusive Hare orchid, which we did not locate in March. At our usual spot on Wittenoom Road we pull over and check around. First up we find another of the White bunny orchids. This time we have located the Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus).
As the name suggests the leaf has undulated margins. This orchid is located from Northampton to east of Esperance and can grow to 250mm in height.
Further into our search the elusive Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) turned up. So happy that we have now found the quartet of species for the start of the season in the Esperance area.
Leporella is a monotypic genus which is found from southern Victoria to Western Australia. In WA the Hare orchids are found from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.
Today we head to another regular location to the east of Esperance; Coolinup Road which has increased in size due to previous explorations. Today we decide to check on the location we discovered last season.
Along the track in we are eagle eyed for orchids, however none were found before we reached the granite rock clearing. In the clearing we found many white bunny orchids that had finished flowering. Luckily there were still some in bloom.
The White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) is found growing in the moss under the protection of a hakea bush in the shallow soil on the granite rocks.
These orchids are found between Dirk Hartog Island and Israelite Bay during the months of March, April and May and can grow to 350mm in height.
Many other White bunny orchids are found before Deb comes across a small drove of Hare orchids. Only one of which is in flower. Each orchid may have up to 3 flowers with pairs fairly common.
Today I visit Dempster Head which is a shire reserve that overlooks Esperance Bay and First and West beaches. (Mud Map SE 34). First up I located some White bunny orchids growing alongside the track below the water tanks.
The size and shape of their leaves attest to my identification. With a length of 40 to 100mm and width of 5 to 18mm, the leaf of the White bunny orchid is by far the largest of the bunny orchids growing in the Esperance area.
Later on the granite rocks above Lovers Beach another small bunny orchid is found growing in the moss and lichen.
The Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) as the name suggests is found growing in shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops from Esperance to Balladonia and Northcliffe to Bremer Bay, with a disjunct population in the Darling Scarp.
The flowering season is over April and May with plants producing up to 10 flowers. It has a short stature of up to 150mm and produces a small smooth leaf only 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8mm in width.
Very happy to have found during the month of April, the 3 bunny orchid types, that flower in the Esperance area.
So have a guess where I went on the first official orchid hunt for the 2020 season? If you guessed Mud Map Ref: SE35 you are correct. Helms Arboretum is our so called “Rabbits foot” location and I was not let down entirely. Nothing in flower however White bunny orchids were in bud.
However only 3 days later they had bloomed. Deb was with me today, so we both got to see the first orchids in flower for the season. White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp.dilatatus)is found from Dirk Hartog Island to Israelite Bay. Flowering period is March to May so it is one of the first orchids to flower in WA.
First up we checked out Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) where we were excited to find the Leafless orchid (Praecoxanthus aphyllus). This orchid is the sole species in the genus and is endemic to Western Australia, where it is found between Pinjarra and Esperance during the months of March, April and May.
Leafless orchids may grow to 400mm in height
We then move further north and find some Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) in the Redlake townsite Nature Reserve. This orchid was originally named in 1883 and placed in the Prasophyllum genus however in 2002 it was moved to the Corunastylis genus. Then in 2018 it was re-named C. fuscoviridis as it was formally named C.tepperi, which is a species found in Victoria and South Australia. This is the sole West Australian species and is located from Corrigin to Eyre. It is also found in South Australia and Victoria, hence the naming issues.
Pygmy orchids may grow to 250mm in height but they are very difficult to spot in the leaf litter.
March proved to be the month when the Orchid season began in my local area. Four species are recorded as flowering during March around the Esperance area. We were lucky enough to find three of the four, with the Hare orchid the being the elusive species.
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.
After enjoying a wonderful breakfast at the Esperance Bird and Animal Park we take our grandson Ollie out to play on some blue metal mountains along Wittenoon road. We have previously found orchids at the site so it is a dual purpose visit.
First up Ollie and myself play in and on the blue metal mountains whilst Deb has a quick scout around. Not much found so she takes a few photos with her iPhone of the Western wispy spider orchids I found last visit and some of us playing.
Next it’s time for Nanna (Deb) to climb the mountain with Ollie and my time for searching. I am fortunate enough to find 5 different species in a quick search:
Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata), Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila), Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) & Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis).
Not a very productive day today, as it was hard to search with the wonderful distraction of our grandson.
After wetting our appetite yesterday, we head out again to broaden our search. A quick stop at the Wittenoom Road site provides more Green Range donkey orchids and Blue Beards.
We move further north to Mount Burdett where we go on a more thorough search. Straight away we find some Banded greenhoods and Brittle snail orchids.
Then on closer inspection some of the snail orchids appear to be a different species. They are the closely related Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are smaller in stature, have plumper flowers and shorter, thicker lateral sepals. They flower between Southern Cross and Israelite Bay during the months June to August.
Whilst I’m still grabbing photos Deb yelps as she encounters a snake in her path. I make a wide berth around the area and by the time I catch up to her she has located another species of snail orchid. This time they are Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) which unlike other snail orchids do not have a rosette of leaves when flowering. They are easily identified by this and differ to the Brittle and Fawn snail orchids by having numerous stem leaves. These flower between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during the months May through to August.
Then very close by in a bright green patch of moss Deb spies a little speck of pink. Wowsers, she has stumbled across some Pink bunny orchids (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber) which are found between Jurien Bay and Cape Arid National Park during the months July through September. An unusual feature of theses orchids is the leaves differ between flowering and non-flowering plants. How lucky are we to find such small orchids. These ones were no more than 40mm in height.
Another common orchid for the season is discovered which I grab a photo of to record our findings. The newly named Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscular) was at it’s maximum height of 150mm but has few flowers when compared to the similar Dark banded greenhood. Inland distribution between Northampton and Eyre, flowering June to early September.
Moving up and over the granite, we make it to the so called summit and there we locate a couple of Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra). These orchids are found between Kalbarri and Esperance between the months May to August. They are known for their inland distribution and can be found on granite outcrops.
Nearby a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella) is found standing tall all alone on the granite. These orchids flower July to September in a restricted range between Salmon Gums , Esperance and Balladonia. They have a very distinctive coloured tri-lobed labellum
Another donkey orchid is found, however it is not another Beautiful donkey orchid. Due to being located on granite it could be the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) however it does not have recurved later sepals. So it could be the hybrid between these two orchids (Diuris pulchella x D. hazeliae).
Many more snail orchids found on the way back to the car. No more Fawn snails orchids found which was disappointing.
For lunch we move on to Mount Ridley. On the track in the first orchid found was another Mallee banded greenhood then a lonely snail orchid was found right on the edge of the track at the base of a tree. I believe it to be a Brittle sail orchid.
After refilling ourselves with lunch we head off up the granite rock in search of orchids. First orchid found was a Banded greenhood, followed by Mallee banded greenhoods and finally some Yellow granite donkey orchids (Diuris hazeliae) which occurs between Paynes Find and Balladonia in an inland range during the months August and September. There are many just budding up but we were lucky enough to find some early flowering ones. Also found were some yet to bloom Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii)which are also an inland orchid found between Northampton and Grass Patch during July to October.
Unfortunately a storm moved in very quickly and we got caught in a downpour. Trying to shelter under some bushes I spy a Brittle snail orchid so grab a photo of him dripping wet. Once the 10 minute downpour had finished we very carefully climbed back down to the Triton, so as not to slip and injure ourselves.
Rather than back track we decide to take the scenic road home via Grass Patch. Even though we are wet through it was a decent orchid hunt today. 12 different species found and 1 hybrid.
Have time for a quick spin out to Coolinup road (Mud Map SE 37/38 ) due to Debbie’s work roster. After a wonderful cooked breakfast we pack up the Triton for our day trip. Heading east with foreboding black clouds all around, we arrive at our usual first destination on Coolinup Road.
Looking down Coolinup Rd to Fisheries Rd intersection
I push into the scrub to find some greenhoods, as they are always here. Debbie though skirts the bushes to see what she can find. I locate a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata)which flowers April to September in a range between Perth and Balladonia. Also found are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September , however range inland between Mullewa and Toolinna Cove. Only a few plants fully formed though which must be down to the dry start to our orchid season.
Bright green and white striped flowers
Fleshier flowers than the Banded greenhood
Debbie finds some greenhoods as well underneath the bushes in the granite runoff. Then she discovers the Bird orchid leaves are sprouting with greenhoods nearby.
Labellum has been triggered
Labellum not triggered
Mutiple stem leaves
Further around the rock Deb yells excitedly as she has found our first leek orchid of the season. Appears to be an Autumn leek orchid, but which one? I will be naming this specimen the Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) due to it’s colouring. Thes little guys flower June to August and are found between Eneabba and Mt Ragged.
Pink colouring sets it apart from the related Scented autumn leek orchid
Full plant stood around 100mm in height
And close by was a small double headed Banded greenhood, just to finish off this location.
Plant stood 60mm in height
Feeling buoyed by finding the leek orchid we decide to check out the track leading into a bitumen dump. Unfortunately nothing seen whilst coasting in, however I did spy a new track that had been made into the scrub. By track I should say, 2 wheel ruts squashed into the vegetation. On the way back from the bitumen dump I convince Deb to pull over so we can have a quick check.
This proved to be a good decision, as a little way in we were finding Hare orchid leaves, Red Beak leaves and some spent White bunny orchids. Then Debbie stumbles across a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) still in flower. These are found between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay during the months of March to June, so we are lucky to find one still flowering, albiet already fertilised. Then a little bit further down the track another one is found.
Fertilized by the size of their ovary
Love the upright petals
Further along we come to another granite clearing, however it is at least twice the size of our first regular location. Excitedly we spread out to inspect the site. It looks like prime habitat for later orchids, so we put this one into our data base (heads) for later in the season. Debbie is again the first to find an orchid flowering. This time it is a Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) which flower April and May in a range from Esperance to Balladonia. They are also found elsewhere in specific areas. Further bunnies are also found however no photos taken.
Distinctive white lateral sepals
Taller orchid would have been 150mm in height
As it is lunch time we head back to the Triton and make our way to the usual gravel pit off Lane Road, where we can eat in peace. Debbie rustles up our Tuna and Chickpea salad, then we walk around eating from our respective bowls. Many leaves are found before I uncover another Hare orchid, whilst moving in to check out some Banded greenhoods.
Double header … Common number
Also called Fringed hare orchid for obvious reasons
Nodding nature and darker colouring lead to this ID
Can have up to 10 flowers per orchid plant
Green white striped flowers
That is all we have time for today so we head off home to Esperance. It was nice to get out into the fresh air after a hectic week of work.
Leaving Kwolyin by our usual 10am we head south towards Corrigin on Shepherd Road and choose to visit Pikaring Nature Reserve which is located on the Old Beverley Road. This is a new location for us so we drove slowly along until we found a place to park the Triton and camper well off the road. We then went exploring.
Woohoo, finally we find some orchids. Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) are found growing on the rock which is the main feature of this reserve. These orchids flower June to September and are found in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania as well as in WA. Here they are found from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove, but do not occur in the South west corner.
Can have up to 12 stem leaves
Broad joined lateral sepals
Flowers have a nodding appearance
Only other orchids found were some spent White bunny orchids, so after morning tea we move on, but not too far before we pull off the road into Boolanelling Nature Reserve, which is very open woodland habitat. No luck in finding any orchids in flower but we did find Redbeak, Spider and Sun orchid leaves and Pterostylis rosettes. The place was also occupied by lots of large termite mounds.
As it is already afternoon we move on. We planned to visit Talbot rock however it was in private property we had to forgoe this spot. Arriving in Yealering, we have another cuppa soup lunch, this time overlooking a somewhat dry lake, before grabbing a takaway coffee as a special treat. Now we need to decide where we are going to camp the night.
About 15kms away is Malyalling Nature Reserve, which we have visited before, so we decide to check it out again. On the old sportsground, which is not a part of the Nature Reserve we find a suitable spot to camp. It even has a shelter with an existing camp fire spot. A quick look around over the rock and through the woodlands only turned up leaves, rosettes and some yet to flower Pterostylis orchids.
Our campsite for the night
All set up for a great night under the stars
After another wonderful nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we pack up and head off, as our quick search last night was enough to confirm this to be another orchidless location, for now. We make a beeline to Toolibin Nature Reserve, which contains Toolibin Lake, and have a search of the woodlands along the track leading into the picnic area. Last visit turned up lots of orchids but no such luck today.
Next location to checkout is Yilliminning Rock as we have previously driven past without stopping, usually due to time constraints on a drive home from Perth, however today we have time. Parking up in the picnic area, before enjoying lunch, we decide to check out the rock. After a good 10 mins of searching we come across some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which flower April till September in locations between Perth and Balladonia. Whilst I’m getting some photos Debbie yells out in excitement as she has finally found another type of orchid.They appear to be Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra) which flower May to August over a large range from Kalbarri to Esperance.
Found growing on granite rock
So many rosettes with only a few flowering
Petals and dorsal sepal join to form hood
Prominently protruding labellum
Shell orchids in the foreground
Nothing more found on the rock other than what appears to be Elbow orchid leaves, so after finding the striking Sea-urchin hakea (Hakea petiolaris) we make our way back to the surrounding woodlands for the trek back to the picnic area. In this woodland I find more Banded greenhoods, however some are brown in colour but do not appear to be Dark banded greenhoods, due to the lateral sepals being more elongated than broad.
Light brown colour – Not usual
This flower was growing on a bare branch
Leaves will be withered by flowering time – Oct to Jan
Bright green colour
Very tall specimen
Light brown coloured specimen
Sign at picnic area
After enjoying lunch we head into Narrogin to get some supplies. We visited the Dryandra Country Visitors Centre and obtained information on the local reserves. We chose to check out Foxes Lair a reserve in the town boundary. We drove through the reserve and decided to park at the Arboretum carpark and take the Granite Walk. This walk is 1.2km in length and incorporates the Arboretum. It was a pleasant walk however was not producing any orchids until we reached the section of granite boulders. Here we found some Dark banded greenhoods.
Insect-like labellum flicks up when triggered by pollinator
Little group growing close to granite
Can grow up to 400mm in height
Granite habitat of Dark banded greenhoods
Growing in the Sheoak needles
As it is now after 3pm we make a move to an area called Newman Block where there are some more marked walk trails. Due to limited time before sunset, we decided we had better find an overnight camp spot. As we slowly checked out the woodlands I spy a Banded greenhood at the side of the track. As Deb reverses back so I can grab a photo, she sees a very small White bunny orchid. Exact ID unknown.
Flowers more upright than Dark banded greenhood flowers
Exact species unknown
We find a camping spot and set up for another night around the campfire. Today proved a much more fruitful day so fell asleep quickly after a good feed and a few bevvies.
Campfire lit in cleared area.
This morning after breaking camp we set off on the Sandplain Walk which skirts an incline before we climb this to the sandplain. On the incline up we finally find a Dark banded greenhood in flower.
Wonderful woodland habitat
Typical nodding nature of flower
Once on the elevated sandplain the vegetation changes and we come across many Hare orchid leaves. Then finally we come across one in flower. The Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) flowers March to June over a large range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. A little further along we come across others in flower.
Location we found the Hare orchids
Striking a pose
Size comparison to Debs hand
Nice double header.
Leaving the sandplain we head into a thicket of trees where we find some Banded greenhoods. One of which was a good 350mm in height, so took a photo alongside my lower leg for scale.
Green and white stripes. Flowers do not nod
Height comparison to my lower leg
We arrive back to the Triton and camper around 11.30am and make tracks for our next planned stop. This being near Piesseville (Mud Map SE14) which did not turn up anything other than leaves ready for later in the season. So we travel via Piesseville to the North Wagin Nature Reserve where we grab some lunch. Then time to look around. So many Banded greenhoods found, some with really crowded inflorescences.
Trio of plants
Very full inflorescence
We fill up the Triton in Wagin before moving onto a new location. Just southeast of Wagin is Puntapin Rock on Puntaping Rd. We go for a exploratory walk up the rock and only find leaves and sprouts of unknown origin.
Possible Shell or Frog greenhood.
Leaving the picnic area
So now we need to find a campsite for tonight. Passing through Dumbleyung we head east and finally pull into an old gravel pit near Tarin Rock. We light what will be our last campfire of the trip and enjoy a red wine. Cooked up a meal in the camp oven and settled in for a cold night.
Deb stoking the fire
Camp oven stew.
Checking dinner cooking on the fire
Woke up to a foggy morning, so jumped out and got the fire going for some warmth. After our last breakfast on the road we pack up camp and head to a usual stop, the Lake Grace Lookout. It is still so dry here so we expect to find nothing. However under the usual bush I find the stand of greenhoods.
Lots under this one bush
Still yet to open
Stopping in Lake Grace we grab a coffee at Cafe Arjo, which was really yummo, then drive on to Newdegate. We had to grab a photo of the CBH Silos before buying last minute supplies at the general store. Then it was eastward to Lake King.
Notice the Cowslip orchids with the lizard
First up we grab lunch at the Lake King Tavern before heading off on Walk Trail No.1 which takes us from the Tavern to the General Store. Then we take Walk Trail No.3 back to the tavern on a 3.6km loop into the woodlands. There was so much rubbish in the woodlands including a caravan, 2 tractors, car bodies and so many rusted tins. Also though we did find more greenhoods and many Pygmy orchids, which of course had finished flowering for the season.
Yet to fully open.
All flowers now finished
Showing typical habitat
Making it back to the Triton we head off for Pallarup Nature Reserve or more exactly Pallarup Rocks, which usually bring the goods. We did find orchids but not many. Dark banded greenhoods and a solitary Hare orchid.
Dark brown lateral sepals
Best shot taken in the windy conditions
Well we pull into Raventhorpe at 4.45pm and set up the camper in the front yard of the unit our son, Tim, is renting. Was great to catch up with him, have a hot shower, play Tri-ominos and eat dinner indoors. We do however sleep in out camper so hot water bottles are again filled.
Tim leaves for work before 6am, as we hear him leave but remain in our warm bed until later. After breakfast we pack and and make tracks for home. We do stop in at Mills road but no orchids found, so Esperance here we come.
So now the question posed by the title to this post – Was a Jaunt in June Justified?
So after a lazy morning I head out to Mount Burdett Nature Reserve (Mud Map SE 36) to have a scout around. Parking up on the rock, I have a bite of lunch before heading off on my search. Within 2m of the Triton I find my first White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) growing up through a shrub. To get into the light the orchid has grown to 350mm in height, which is the maximium by my reference book. The smooth, relatively narrow leaf confirms the classification.
White forward spreading lateral sepals
At maximum height – 350mm
Smooth leaves situated high up the stem
Then right at the edge of the rock I find a very small version of the White bunny orchid. Measuring only 55mm in height. However given it’s size and size of the leaf I am now of the opinion this it is in fact a Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) which grows, as the name suggests, on granite outcrops, of which Mt Burdett is one. These little fellows flower April and May and occur in the Perth hills, between Northcliffe and Bremmer Bay and between Esperance and Balladonia. Proceeding around the base of the rock I find many more bunny orchids, which vary in height and number of flowers per stem.
Spreading white lateral sepals
Only 55mm in height.. Small fry
Up to 10 flowers per orchid
Small stem leaf
Typical habitat – Moss on granite
Small dual flowered specimen
Short spreading petals
Small smooth narrow leaf
Just as I was about to accept that the only orchids to be found today would be bunny orchids, an orchid of differing colours catches my eye. You little beauty, I have found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) which flower March to June from north of Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. These guys are cute little orchids with erect ears and a beard. Within 2 m of the first 2 I found a grouping of 4. Very happy!!
Someone lurking in the background
Erect ear-like petals
Dorsal sepal curves over the column
Can on rare occasions, have 4 flowers per orchid
Broad, fringed labellum
It is now just past 1pm and I have found myself on the opposite side of the granite outcrop to where I had parked the Triton, so I had better start heading back. I won’t backtrack though, but climb up to the phone towers and then take the usual track back to the Triton. Pushing through scrub I did not find anything else other than the occasional bunny orchid. I did however come across the biggest meat ant nest I have ever seen.
Size comparison to my drink bottle
Heading back down the rock from the summit I come across another White bunny orchid as well as many Granite bunny orchids. Due to the time though I cut my photo taking time down as I need to get to the airport to pick Debbie up, on her flight home from Perth.
Looks like a little man with big white flippers on
Labellum less colourful
Much larger leaf visible – Not in focus unfortunately
Happy to have found the Hare orchid today. This now completes the species found for the month of May to the four known for my area.
I get to go Orchid hunting by myself today, as Debbie is flying to Perth for an Awards night with her employer. After seeing Debbie off at the Esperance airport, I head north up the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy. My first point of call is Fleming Grove Road. This is the 2nd visit of the season to this location, with the first turning up nothing. Let’s hope today is more fruitful.
A little white flower catches my eye. A White bunny orchid is found however on closer inspection of the leaf it appears to be a Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulates) which begin flowering in April over a large range from Northampton to east of Esperance and inland to Mt Jackson and Queen Victoria Rocks. This classification may be incorrect as one plant has 4 flowers and my references state they have up to 3. Also I don’t have a clear photo of the leaf due to surrounding vegetation. Other bunny orchids were found with less flowers which may confirm my classification.
Nice dual flower specimen
White forward spreading lateral sepals
Also found were some early Pterostylis genus orchids. Seems to be yet to fully open greenhood. Nothing more found so moving on to the next location.
Getting ready to emerge
Speddingup East Nature Reserve is that location. Driving slowly in first gear, I glance out the drivers window in a vain attempt at orchid spotting. Nothing seen at all so a bit despondently I turn around to head back to the road when I glance a gravelly track leading into the scrub. Why not give that a try, on foot this time, as it is very overgrown and too narrow, even for the Triton.
Nothing found here either, so I head into the scrub, for the walk back to the Triton. So glad I did, as there all by itself I find a perfect example of the Leafless orchid (Praecoxanthus aphyllus). This specimen stood 230mm in height and still looked fresh given they flower March to May. They range between Pinjarra and Esperance growing in sandy soils in scrublands and woodlands.
Over 230mm in height
Colours in the shade
Feeling so much better now, I head off for Truslove North Nature Reserve. Turning just past the School site I slowly drive but find nothing. Parking up for a bite to eat, I call up Deb to find she had just arrived at her hotel. After a chat I go for a walk into the scrub, however do not find anything, so move onto the next locality.
Passing through Grass Patch to my destination of Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve, where I enter at the school site. Again I slowly drive through looking out my window, with no luck at spying any orchids. So I get out and wander around on foot, which still brings up nada.
OK, so today is not proving very successful, however I continue on my trip further north, with my next stop at Salmon Gums. A little disheartened, I sit in the Triton listening to the final quarter of the Collingwood v Carlton AFL match. After some heart stopping moments Collingwood win, which improves my mood, so I move on to our spot for orchid hunting.
This spot was proving orchid-less as well, when on my way back to the Triton, walking along the side of the road ditch I see a little orchid, all by itself. Finally found a Pygmy orchid (Corunastylis tepperi) in flower after only finding spent ones in previous years. Only the very top of the inflorescence though is still open with the majority finished for the season. These little guys flower April and May only, from Corrigin to Eyre.
Standing tall – Well 100mm
3 flowers left and a little fiend
So lucky to have found the one and only Pygmy orchid as he proves to be the last orchid I find today. On the way back home, I call into Circle Valley, Grass Patch arboretum, Truslove Townsite Nature Reserve and Scaddan, which all prove to be void of orchids. Well at least I didn’t find any.
Sunset through the smoke
Posts marking the middle of 3 rows for each tree.
Sign says it all
Very dry and barren
Late afternoon sunshine
Oh well, it was a nice day out but only 3 species found. 2 were single specimens, so I was very lucky to have found them. Pterostylis orchids are starting up, so the season moves on. Such a dry start is making the hunt harder this year so far, so we can only see how it pans out going forward.