30/08/2020 ….. Hamersley Inlet to Home (Road Trip 2020)

Fitzgerald River NP, Munglinup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Road Trip, Springdale NR, Western Australian Orchids

We awake to a cold morning however the sun is shining so it will be a great last day of our 2020 Road Trip. First up we check out the spider orchid we found in the fading light yesterday.

Hamersley Inlet

Western wispy spider orchid

(Caladenia microchila)

Camper packed up and time to move on. We get as far as 4 Mile Beach campground before we stop and have a scout around. We only find a few Pterostylis orchids.

4 Mile Beach

Ravensthorpe snail orchid or Coastal snail orchid

(Pterostylis grossa or P. sp. “coastal snail”)

We head into Hopetoun for a bite to eat. Our next point of call is just north of the South Coast Hwy, and is a favourite of ours. We again find a few orchids for our troubles.

Mills Road

Zebra orchid

(Caladenia cairnsiana)

??? hybrid spider orchid

(Caladenia x sp.)

Small mantis orchid

(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima)

Cream spider orchid

(Caladenia horistes)

3 orchid species and a hybrid is not a bad haul, however we must keep moving towards home. First up though we stop at the Munglinup Roadhouse for a burger lunch. Driving in we discover some orchids on the roadside, so I jump out to get some photos and Deb heads down to order lunch.

Munglinup Townsite

Esperance white spider orchid

(Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Common bee orchid

(Diuris decrementa)

Lunch purchased, we move on to Munglinup Nature Reserve to eat and explore.

Zebra orchid

(Caladenia cairnsiana)

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Common bee orchid

(Diuris decrementa)

Esperance white spider orchid

(Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Five species found, so happy we made to time to explore the area. We now move on to revisit a location we checked out on Day 1 of this road trip. Lets see if there is anything different now flowering.

Springdale Nature Reserve

??? hybrid spider orchid

(Caladenia x sp.)

Red beaks

(Pyrorchis nigricans)

?? donkey orchid

(Diuris sp.)

??? hybrid spider orchid

(Caladenia x sp.)

Reaching spider orchid

(Caladenia arrecta)

Blue beard

(Pheladenia deformis)

Common bee orchid

(Diuris decrementa)

Esperance white spider orchid

Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa)

Pink bunny orchid

(Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber)

Esperance king spider orchid

(Caladenia decora)

Since it is after 3 pm and we still have more than 100kms to home, we decide to leave our orchid exploration at this fruitful location. The hour long drive was a great time to look back on our awesome road trip that started back on the 8th August. The Wheatbelt Way was a great loop that opened up the amazing Western Australian countryside.

Over the 3 weeks on the road we discovered many new locations as well as re-visiting favourite spots. So many orchid species were located along with numerous hybrids which was a pleasant surprise.

25/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 1

Esperance, Helms Arboretum, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Peak Charles NP, Red Lake Townsite NR, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

It’s Friday before the Queens Birthday long weekend and I have taken another RDO, so as to make it extra long. A camping weekend at Peak Charles which is some 150kms or so NNW of Esperance is planned.

We pack up the Triton and camper trailer then head up to pick up Deb C. who rides shotgun with my darling Deb driving. We are taking Deb C. on her first ever trip North of Esperance. First point of call is the Esperance Bird and Animal Park for a takeaway coffee/hot chocolate and sweet slice. This was to give us energy for our first orchid hunting location, which just for a change is good old Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35).

First orchids found alongside section 21, were the wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) , the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) and the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra anennifera) which are regular finds at this location. Oddly enough they are all yellow in colour.

Then just before hopping back in the Triton Deb spies a spider orchid in the overgrown Section 21, so we all go to investigate. We discover many beautiful large Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower. The spreading petals that barely drop are a distinguishing feature when comparing them to the often co-located and similar Heberle’s spider orchid. Due to the lack of colour some may actually be hybrids with the Esperance white spider orchid.

Leaving Section 21 we head straight down to the track between Sections 1 and 2. Nothing much found along this track, however upon driving further we find the Rattle Beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) growing on the edge of Section 9. No longer right on the bull ants nest, thank goodness, but about 2 metres away. Only the one in flower though which was disappointing.

We then zigzagged our way through multiple sections and found many more Esperance king spider orchids and other possible hybrids. Could not resist posting more photos of these beautiful orchids.

We also came across some much smaller orchids. The Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) for example has flowers that are only 15mm across whilst the Esperance king spider orchids can be up to 100mm.

We then checked out a patch in Section 83 to see if we could find the small spider orchids we had found in previous seasons. Prior to reaching the exact spot of the spider orchids some other orchids jump out at me. The Purple enamel orchids (Elythranthera brunonis) are so bright you cannot miss them.

And then the Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) appears in it’s usual location. Only a small clump of 2 plants though is found this year. A a little further off the road are some more Lemon-scented sun orchids and Common bee orchids in flower.

Also discovered in in the reedy grass were some Elegant donkey orchids (Diuris concinna) which differ to the bee orchids in only having a small amount of brown markings at the base of the labellum. Coincidently, this species was named in 1991 from specimens collected at Helms Arboretum in 1985.

Walking back to the Triton we find more Esperance king spiders orchids and accompanying hybrids.

Moving up to Section 107 where we expect to find the magnificent Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) flowering. We were not disappointed. These orchids can be larger the the Esperance king spider orchids and as mentioned previously the two hybridise with each other to form many varied coloured specimens.

Then on the edge of Section 109 we locate some more Zebra orchids. Some are not the usual colour and the lateral sepals are not clasping the stem, so may also be hybrids.

OMG it’s 12 o’clock and we are less than 20kms into our 150km drive, so we had better get a move on. Heading north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we make a pit-stop at the Grass Patch local store. Was an interesting reception, however Deb still purchased some locally made jam and relish, plus we all enjoyed an ice-cream.

Just north of Grass Patch we pull into Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve and head down our track looking for the Frog greenhoods we have previously found here. No such luck this season however after eating our lunch and by a stroke of luck we found a lonely sun orchid just starting to bloom. As there seems to be only 2 species flowering north of Esperance I will be calling this one the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea). They flower during October and November, which would explain why we only found one starting to flower.

We finally reach the Kumarl – Lake King Rd turnoff and commence the unsealed road part of the drive to Peak Charles campground. We arrive to an all but, packed campground with only 1 uneven spot left. We decide to head head south around the rock, with the intention of finding the camping area in the Salmon Gums, however we find a track heading back towards the rock, so decide to investigate. It proves to be a dead end, however after a bit of manoeuvring we settle here as our camping spot.

We set up our camper and then the gazebo and camper stretcher for Deb C. Fire pit organised so I go for an explore up the rock. Way too steep for me in the fading light so grabbed a photo looking out over the woodlands, which I have selected as the Feature photo for this post. Time now to settle in for 3 nights camping under the stars.

Bliss!!

13/09/2020 ….. Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

After spending a wonderful weekend with good friends, Warren and Tammy in Hopetoun, we venture north to Ravensthorpe as they are having their annual Wildflower Show, which we have not been to in the 20 years we have lived in Esperance.

The display of wildflowers in the shire hall was amazing so we took a few pics of the orchids they had on display. We then sat down for a cuppa, with scones, jam and cream before making our way to the local lolly shop, Yummylicious Candy Shack for an icecream. No ginger this time though 😦 so I chose macadamia then also purchased a small bag of mixed lollies. It is here we say goodbye to our friends as they head home to Esperance, as we have orchids to find.

So where do we go first, given we are already 185km east of home. You guessed it, another 15kms east to Kukenarup Memorial. As the picnic shelter is already occupied we head straight for the walk trail and immediately find some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in bloom. These are by far the most widespread of the yellow sun orchids, as they occur on a line from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay and everywhere south of that line. The dark column lobes are a distinctive feature which also alludes to the Latin name: antennae, to bear .

Very close by another bright orchid of a different colour catches our eye. The Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) glistens in the bright sunshine.

Deb discovers a blue orchid and initially thought it would be a Blue beard however on closer inspection it was an orchid not found at this location before, which is exciting. It is a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which is quite widespread, ranging from Israelite Bay to Kalbarri.

I had just finished saying to Deb how it would be nice to find the Dragon orchids that were at the Wildflower Show, when what do we spy but a Common dragon orchid (Caladenia barbarossa) swaying in the breeze.

Right next door to the lone Dragon orchid we also find a lone Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens susp. gracillima) which is smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, which can also be found around Ravensthorpe. The labellum calli extend onto the red tip of the labellum, which is another distinguishing feature when comparing the two.

Making our way back to the walk track, as we have detoured a bit towards the Hwy, we come across another type of orchid. This little one appears to be the Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) due to the shortly clubbed later sepals and south-easterly location. The only other possibility is the Purple-veined spider orchid, which is pictured earlier at the wildflower Show, and the length of the sepals is definitely a distinctive feature of both types.

Towards the end of the walk trail we discover many more Lemon-scented sun orchids growing under the protection of bushes and also out on the granite growing in the Resurrection bushes.

Right at the end of the trail some Frog greenhoods (Pterostlyis sargentii) are found growing in the Resurrection bushes as well. These are a common inland greenhood growing between Northampton and Grasspatch.

We decide to go down south of the picnic shelter to see if we can locate the Red beaks we had found on previous years. Nothing at all found other than a small spent spider orchid on the edge of a track. We decide to walk along this track which heads west, toward the Phillips River. We are expanding this location as we have never ventured along this track before.

Interestingly, the first orchid found is the common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava sp. flava) which is unusual in that no others have been found today. One flower, 3 images.

Further along the track are some more Dragon and Purple enamel orchids.

Then on the south side of the track we stumble across some scattered Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) growing in the white sand. An unusual find, given the area does not appear to have been burnt recently.

Then hiding under a bush is the smallest Blue china orchid I had ever seen. Actually looking at the labellum it appears to be a Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) as it is also much paler than the typical Blue china orchid which was found earlier today.

After walking this track for about 30mins it seemed to go on forever, so we turned north to make our way back to the picnic area. Pushing up a rise we find many more Small mantis orchids as well as many Jug orchids (Petrostylis recurva), however most were finished for the season, though we took a photo just as a record.

We have now returned close to the Hwy so head west towards the picnic area. Not much found until Deb excitedly comes across a beautiful leek orchid. I believe it to be the Frilled leek orchid (Prasophyllum sargentii) which grows in sandy soils from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay during August to October.

We make it back to the picnic shelter and right there in the shade of the taller shrubs is a patch of Common dragon orchids. Photos taken but no decent ones so will not post any, however the short video seems decent enough to post.

Needing food we head off east past Ravensthorpe and onto Munglinup Roadhouse to get another burger, as they were awesome last time. Much busier today so the wait will be longer, so Deb suggests I go exploring nearby for any orchids.

Great idea my wonderful wife had. I ventured over the road to the east and immediately spied yellow flowers that looked promising. The bright and beautiful Cowslips are flowering as are the Lemon-scented sun orchids. Also a red coloured Small mantis orchid and the usual greener ones are found together with some Purple enamel orchids.

To top off this location I found three different species of white spider orchids. First up is the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians), followed by an Esperance white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda susp. crassa) then finally a small orchid I cannot Identify. Any help with this is appreciated.

Back to the roadhouse I go and we enjoy eating the awesome burgers before we head off to our next location. We plan to visit the spot on Boydell Road where we had seen possible hammer orchid leaves on a previous visit. I am driving and we go past the spot and travel some 20 kms before realising. We turn around and locate our marker and pull into a farmers gate leeway as we are only in the Ford, so no 4WD capability to park off the road.

Whilst we start our search on the north of the road the farmer comes to check on what we are up to. They check our car, drive up and down the road a bit then obviously decide we are not a threat and leave us be. Unfortunately the leaves we planned to check out had not produced any flowers and were dying off, however we did locate some other orchids. First up was a beautiful pair of Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) which occur from Augusta to Cape Arid during September and October. The long clubbed sections of the sepals and having clubbed petals are distinguishing features. Other specimens are also found upon further searching.

Other orchids were found as well. Red beaks were found, which confirms rare individuals will flower without a need for a recent bushfire. Purple enamel orchids and Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) round off the day. A funky name however, it is derived from the Latin discoideus alluding to the rounded shape of the labellum.

It is now just after 5pm so we had better make tracks for home. As we are closer to the Cascade Road intersection than we first thought we decide to take it back down to the hwy as it is a sealed road.

A great day orchid hunting, to finish off a great weekend. Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show provided us with the nudge to explore the area and we were rewarded with at least 16 different orchid species.

29/07/2020 ….. Dempster Head and Myrup

Dempster Head, Esperance, Myrup, Western Australian Orchids

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 😦

26/07/2020 ….. Boyatup Bound & Beyond

Cape Arid NP, Day Trip, National Parks, Western Australian Orchids

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.