Well after enjoying our 2nd night at the Stirling Range Retreat, we pack up and head out on our exploration of the Stirling Range National Park. We plan on taking the Stirling Range Drive to Red Gum Pass Road, then north to Salt River Road. Then heading east to Formby Road South where we will head north to Gnowangerup. Obviously we plan on making numerous stops to explore for orchids and to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.
First up we head into Bluff Knoll Road to check out the orchids in one further location. Maybe we will find something different without the threat of rain hanging over our heads. Not surprisingly, the orchids found were the same as the ones found yesterday, but photos were taken again of course.
Nearly 10am, so we make tracks toward our next location. On Stirling Range Drive, we make a split second decision to pull over on the side of the road. We manage to find a few orchids on the side of the road.
We jump back in the Triton and move a few hundred metres down the road before stopping at a spot that had seen a bushfire some time in the last year. Let us see if this has triggered orchids to grow for us to find.
Now it nearly 11am so onwards we travel, with our next stop being Talyuberlup Picnic Area. First up we check the picnic area side of the road then we head up the Talyuberlup Peak trail a wee bit, before scrambling back to the triton. As we had hoped, orchids are found.
Time to consider lunch, so we move onwards to White Gum Flat picnic area. We have a bite to eat and then go exploring the nearby area. We don’t venture to far before we find orchids. This time round we actually cross the road and find further orchids including new ones for the day. Turns out the King spider orchid is a new species for us, so that was an exciting find.
Still more of this National Park to check out so onwards we go. At the intersection of Red Gum Pass Road we turn left and check out some locations along the roadside. We found a few orchids including some new ones for the day.
We now head north along Red Gum Pass Road and make a quick stop into the picnic area, where we find a few orchids but move further north to another road side location where orchids are located as well.
We eventually reach Salt River Road and turn right. However we soon pull over at Salt Lake Nature Reserve for an explore, but after a quick check not much is located so we move on to Camel Lake Nature Reserve, with a road side stop along the way. At this final stop we are lucky to find some new orchid species for the day as well as previously found ones. Photos of all those found at the locations along the way were taken to record their discovery near the northern boundary of the National Park.
Wowsers, they were amazing first time locations for orchids. 13 possible species and 1 hybrid found, however we must move on as it’s past 4.30pm and we still have nearly 50kms to our planned destination. We arrive at Chirelillup Nature Reserve, set up camp and whilst Deb lights the campfire I have a very quick scout around in the waning sunlight.
We awake to a cold , wet and miserable day, but we won’t let that stop us from going exploring for orchids. Finally the rain stops, so after a bite of lunch, we head up to the Bluff Knoll lookout however the actual mountain is nearly covered in clouds. The feature picture show some of the amazing metal artwork installed there. Some close-up images are included here for your appreciation.
So now is the time to commence our exploration of the area. We have a very quick scout around the lookout and parking area, where we see a few orchids. However on the drive into the lookout we saw some possible spots to check out along the roadside. So it is at these couple of stops, in between showers, that we locate the following orchids.
It’s now past 2.30pm so we only have a few hours of daylight left to explore, so we will keep close to our base. Therefore we make tracks north of the National Park, to visit the nearby Formby Nature Reserve, which weirdly is still signposted as the Mabinup Creek Nature Reserve. The northern boundary of the park is found to be very weedy and the creek is overflowing, which does not thrill us too much. So we head back down Formby Road South and venture in on the eastern boundary. Next time we need to pack wellington boots as the place is flooded, but we venture in nonetheless, after applying insect repellent, as the mozzies may become troublesome. This place proves to be covered in orchids in large numbers and many species, which is amazing to us. Refer the following images of the orchids found.
I just had to pop in some photos to show how many orchids were at this location as well as the ones we found swimming.
It is now after 4.30 so we head back toward our base at the Stirling Range Retreat, but as per usual we make one more stop. We pull off the road before the Mount Trio turn-off and head down this gravel track. This is a new location for us in the park and it proves to be quite fruitful. Our quick stop though runs into another hour. Luckily the rain holds off. Here is what we found.
With the light running out fast we do a u-turn, head back to Formsby Road South and make tracks for our little cabin. What an amazing afternoon of orchid hunting we have had today, especially given the cold and wet morning we awoke to. I think we found 23 species and at least 3 hybrids which is mind blowing but this National Park and it’s surrounding are like an oasis in the middle of cleared land for agriculture.
After spending a wonderful night with our gracious hosts we pass through Dinninup and head down Six Mile Road and make our first stop at Six Mile Road Nature Reserve.
The ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is the first orchid found. These are a common orchid occurring over a wide range, from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. It is a unique species in the Pterostylis genus so has not been included in any of the 5 complexes. Other common names include the Bull orchid, Antelope orchid and Recurved shell orchid.
Very soon after the equally reliable Little Pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found. They are commonly found growing in clumps and are distinguished from the Pink fairy by having a purplish/red colouring to the underside of their leaf, rather than green. Also quite a widespread orchid with populations found from Northampton To Esperance
Then another stunning orchid is found. The Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) which flowers between Jurien Bay and Esperance, is quite the stunner. The spotted labellum is very distinctive and the flowers can be up to 40mm in width, which are large enough to stand out in the bush.
Next found are numerous donkey orchids. These orchids are very difficult to identify due to all species being very similar in appearance plus many overlap in their distributions. Any help in identifying these orchids would be appreciated.
Leaving this Nature Reserve we move on, to who knows where as we are just winging our stops by using the Hema map book and Google maps. We locate a patch of bush, which is signposted as the Mickalurrup Nature Reserve but I cannot locate any reference to it online other than as a hotspot in eBird, so its location at the intersection of Westbourne Road is my only location detail for reference purposes.
A quick inspection does not turn up much. Some more donkey orchids (un-named), a Little pink fairy and some snail orchids (un-named). So onwards we go as it is now past 11am
Next stop is further south at the location Heartlea forest settlement, which is located in the Greater Kingston National Park. We head off with low expectations given the finds so far today, but are blown away by finding a brand new species for us. 🙂
The Little pink fan orchid (Caladenia nana subsp. nana) is a small orchid that flowers between Perth and Bremer Bay, in forest and woodland habitats. Being so small we struggled to get any decent pics but will share them anyways.
Other orchids found here were more Little pink fairies, donkey orchids (unnamed) and a Silky blue orchid.
Then just as we were leaving this spot a single spider orchid is spotted. From the options available for the range and colourings I believe it is a Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) which flowers in September & October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Boyup Brook.
As our planned destination for the day is still some 200kms away and it now 12.30, we return to the road. As is usual for us we don’t make it far before stopping to have a quick look around, this time at a layby near Tonebridge.
We again find some donkey orchids which I will not attempt to ID, but more excitingly we come across some more spider orchids. Theses appear different to the one found earlier and are most likely the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila)which is pale yellow to creamy yellow in colour with basally backswept petals.
Next stop is Unicup Lake which is located in the Unicup Nature Reserve. It appears a Water Ski club used to exist here, as there is an old tin shed still in existence. We have lunch here before exploring the nearby area for orchids.
First up the Little pink fairy is found followed up by Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii)and some more Snail orchids (unnamed). The round, green, ground hugging leaves of the Midge orchid are found in great numbers however as the midge orchid flowers are very well camouflaged, you need to stand still and look closely to see them.
A very exciting find is the Crab-lipped spider orchid (Caladenia plicata)which I believe is a new species for us. This little orchid flowers from September to early November in woodlands, forests and Mallee-heaths. Located between Nannup and Hopetoun, this orchid reaches up to only 350mm in height and is distinguished by it’s unusual shaped labellum and spreading fringe segments.
With further searching we find more orchids but nothing really new for the day. Snail orchids are found but naming them is just too difficult so if you have any idea of their identification, please comment on this post. Also some Corybas sp. leaves were found with some showing old withered flowers.
As we need to keep moving we head back to the Triton and hit the road again. We only get as far as Kulunilup Nature Reserve before pulling over to the side of the road. On a quick check nothing is found so we move on. Further along a bit we pull off the road at Kenny’s Tank which is located in the Warrenup Nature Reserve and take the 5 min walk towards the tank. However we are beaten back by the swarms of mozzies but do find loads of orchids, which is great.
First orchids discovered were donkeys orchids, however naming these is also difficult. Using Florabase and Atlas of Living Australia they may be one of 2 species. (D. corymbosa or D. porrifolia). Nearby the donkey orchids was the old faithful Jug orchid.
The large white spider orchids then start appearing in numbers as do the mozzies. As none are founds in clumps and based on the location I feel they are the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda). Listed in Florabase as being found in the Cranbrook local government area, plus with a photographic record in the Spider Orchid EBook 2018 from Frankland WA, I am confident in the ID.
Also found were Little pink fairies, Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp, flava) and Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata), which are all quite common orchids. Also seen was a sole Lemon-scented sun orchid in bud and masses of spent Mosquito or Midge orchids.
From nowhere, a sole Joseph’s spider orchid is seen, so some pics were taken.
I go across the road to check out a particular sign and discover some White spider orchids in clumps as well as one that looks a little different. The clumping ones must be some Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) whilst the unusual one could be a Tangled white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta), which is smaller in size and has shorter fringe segments than other longicauda complex orchids.
So even though we were fighting off the mozzies, the orchids found made it worth it. However we must move on, so we jump back into the Triton but only get 5 mins down the road when masses of White spider orchids on the roadside force us to pull-over. We are near the Yeriminup Road intersection.
These must be more Stark white spider orchids due to their clumping habit. Also found was another donkey orchid and another Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is trying to open up.
OK, it’s now past 4pm and we still have close to 100kms to get to our planned overnight stop. So foot to the petal and off we go. We arrive at the Stirling Range Retreat, check-in, then unpack ourselves into our small cabin. At least we will stay dry as the weather moves in.
Not too shabby a day with 14 species found, plus un-named Donkey and Snail orchids. Also the Crab-lipped spider orchid and Little pink fan orchids were brand new species for us, so that was exciting.
Waking up in the middle of the bush is such an amazing way to start the day. After an enjoyable relaxing breakfast we venture into the bush for an explore. Close to our camp we stumble across some snail orchids. Possibly Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens )even though it is notrecorded at this location in either the Atlas of Living Australia or Florabase. The uniformly thickened lateral sepals, pointed hood and red colouring though all allude to this identification. In the reference books, its location is listed as between Mandurah and Albany, which one would think includes Wellington National Park.
Further afield we find the colourful Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a common orchid found from Northampton to Esperance. The easiest way to distinguish them from the similar Pink Fairy is the colour to the reverse of their leaf. Little pink fairies are red whilst pink fairies are green.
Then we are very happy with our next find. The Bird orchid (Pterostylis barbata) is the most widespread of this complex, with it’s range occurring from Bindoon to Albany. The dorsal sepal and petals form a hood, whilst the lateral sepals are long and narrow. The featherlike labellum, appears to erupt from a burst belly.
Next up some more common pterostylis sp. orchids are found. The ever reliableJug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) are found, but only one specimen of each, which is unusual.
Then more snail orchids are found and upon closer inspection they have crinkled edged leaves on their rosette. They must be the Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis crispula) which is found in forests between Perth and Albany.
Another colour then catches our eye. We find a Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea)partly open so grab a snap. However a bit later on we find some fully open. These beautiful orchids flower over most of the southwest, from Jurien Bay to Fitzgerald River National Park. They are also listed as being found east of Esperance, which is interesting. A population separated from the main location is referred to as a disjunct occurrence.
Well finally time to move on, so we leave our overnight campsite and venture back south towards Mungalup road. Rather than go back to the dam we turn at River Road and make a stop just past the Transmission Tower north of Pile Road. Here we locate some more Red-sepaled snail orchids, Jug orchids and Little pink fairies.
Turning onto Pile Road we travel east and flow into Mungalup road. Further along we then turn off into the Collie State Forest, onto a gravel track named Lyalls Log Road and head into the unknown. At a small creek crossing we stop to investigate. Here we find some snail orchids growing on the banks. Due to the uniformly thickened lateral sepals and the hairy stem, they must be more Red-sepaled snail orchids.
We then move away from the crossing to pull off the track in case anyone else comes along. We then continue our investigation of the nearby open bushland. Here we find more beautiful Silky blue orchids which stand out in the gravely ground.
Then a Bird orchid is found looking like it is giving praise to the heavens. Later on further blooming Bird orchids are found.
The usual suspects for today are found again. Banded greenhood, Little pink fairy and Jug orchid. Ok, I wonder if anything else will turn up. We widen our search with fingers crossed.
Our hopes are rewarded, with some Clubbed spider orchids (Caladenia longiclavata) found interspersed between the trees. This orchid flowers from September to early November and is distributed between Perth and Albany growing in forests and woodlands. It grow up to 400mm in height and has a single , erect hairy leaf which can be up to 180mm in length. Now the orchids could also be the Big clubbed spider orchid (c. magniclavata) as the clubbed sections of the lateral sepals seem to be half the length which is a distinguishing feature, whilst the previously mentioned Clubbed spider orchid has clubs around 1/3rd the length of the sepals. What do you think is the right ID?
Then we are amazed to find another type of spider orchid as well. The Leaping spider orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) flowers from August to early November over a range between Albany and Bindoon. The species name refers to the broad wings to the column. Another distinguishing feature is the dense central cluster of deep, purplish calli.
After nearly 40 mins searching this location we decide we had best move on. We did not get to far along the road before we pull over again. Another new orchid for today is found. The small Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelii) needs a steady hand to get a good shot. Unfortunately no steady hand between us 😦 , however will post the best pic. These little guys flower July to September so we are lucky to find some still in flower.
What caught our eye and made us stop at this spot was the large flock of Bird orchids. Also mixed in was a lone Little pink fairy. Photos taken we move on, but don’t get very far, coz a double headed Little pink fairy catches our eye.
Our road eventually terminates at a T junction with Mungalup Tower road and we head south. This road terminates at a tree plantation, so we skirt along the boundary of this plantation until we reach Lyalls Mill Road. So we end up stopping multiple times along the way as orchids catch our eye. A random selection of photos taken is posted for your enjoyment, as no new species were found.
Being close to Glen Mervyn Dam we decide to pull into the picnic area for our lunch. (Refer feature picture) Whilst enjoying lunch overlooking the beautiful water, we discover a nice little grouping of Little pink fairies and another jug orchid. However we do not venture far as we still have a ways to go before our planned overnight stay at Debbie’s cousin Kerry’ farm.
Still around 80-100kms to travel, however we only make it to Noggerup before stopping again. We take a road into the Preston National Park (Shown as Greater Preston NP in Maps) where we go for an exploration. We find orchids, however no new species which is disappointing, but hey, orchids are orchids, so of course we take many photos.
We head back to the Donnybrook Boyup Brook road and move south to Camballan Road, where we stop for another search, this time in the Wilga State Forest. At last we find a new species for the day. The quirky Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea)is found standing proud. It is quite unique in appearance, given the petals and lateral sepals are held horizontally. Another new species for the day is the Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)which is usually found everywhere, but we only find one lone specimen here. Other orchids found were the Little pink fairy and Jug orchid.
A little further along the road we make one final stop in the Wilga State Forest, as farmland is looming. Only found a Banded greenhood in our quick search though. So we moved on and pulled over on the verge of Condinup road for a slightly longer search (15 mins). Here we found some Little pink fairies, Cowslip and Jug orchids.
We were amazed by the large numbers of donkey orchids found here. There are 3 listed in Florabase as occurring in the Boyup Brook shire but only 1 of these is listed in Atlas of Living Australia. That one being the Purple pansy orchid , which they are definitely not, so I will just refer to them as Donkey orchids (Diuris sp.). As per usual, please comment if you can help identify the species.
Getting close to our destination, so we move on and go over Condinup Crossing, where we pull up at a previously known location. Deb heads off straight away looking for the white spider orchids, whilst I do my usual wander. She did find a couple of them and from the location I feel they could be the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is recorded as growing in woodlands from Lancelin to Mount Barker.
No other new orchids for the day are found however I will post some pics to confirm the location they were found. The donkey orchids though look like the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia)which is listed as being found around these parts. Thoughts?
Well it’s now after 4pm so we jump back in the Triton and head to Kerry’s farm, where we are staying the night.
Not too bad a day today. Travelled new routes and found many orchids. 14 species in fact, so an awesome day actually.
After a fun night sharing Father’s Day with my brother in Dwellingup, we awake to a fine sunny day. Then after breakfast, we make tracks for the coastal plain. The first orchid stop for the day is at an unnamed Nature Reserve on Burnside Road in Meelon. First up we find the old faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)which comes in varying shades of yellow and with varied markings. Unlike last year, this is the only orchid species found.
Slightly disappointed, we move on to Manea Park (Mud Map SW5) near Bunbury. After parking up, we immediately hit the walking trail, however, it takes a little while to find our first orchid. We spend just over and hour walking the loop path and we find many orchids. Donkey orchids are found and I believe some of them to be the Kemerton donkey orchid (Diuris cruenta)which flowers late August to October in a restricted range from Capel to Lake Clifton. A distinguishing feature listed in my reference book, is the lateral lobes to the labellum are yellow at their base and reddish at the tip. Other donkey orchids are found that may be a different species, as on a previous visit, I named 3 species found in the Bunbury area.
Another orchid found throughout the park was the snail orchid. From what i can tell they mostly resemble the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) due to the colouring of the flower, the numerous stem leaves and long lateral sepals.
Then some stunning spider orchids are found. The large white spider orchid appear to be the Coastal white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. calcigena) due the location only, as the features of the subspecies are all similar in C. longicauda. However others seem to match the Sandplain white spider orchid (Caladenia speciosa) which has long messy labellum fringe segments and may also be found in this location. As per usual any input in identification would be welcomed.
As usual the good olde Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) shows up, as does the common Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva). Even though they are common orchids, it is still nice to come across some in this location.
A first for this location is also found, which is exciting. The Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) is one of two species in this Western Australian endemic genus. This particular orchid was being watched over by a local Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa subsp. rugosa).
Other common orchids found along the walk include the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and the small Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta)which was found growing around the base of a large tree.
Another small patch of snail orchids is found. From the hairy stem , to the pointed hood, it all leads to me believe they are more Red sepaled snail orchids. A very darkly marked donkey orchid is also found. Could possibly be the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia) or just a darker version of the Kemerton donkey orchid. Again, let me know your thoughts.
Had to grab a pic of how tall the donkey orchids were, before we leave Manea Park. We then made our way into Bunbury to the Farmers Market to have lunch and buy some supplies. On the highway welcoming people into Bunbury was a large billboard featuring the wonderful Cowslip orchids. Had to grab a pic of that as well. From here we make our way into the hills to check out the Wellington Dam mural. What an amazing sight, so of course it made it as the feature picture for this post. Finding a camping site took a while but we set ourselves up for the night and enjoyed another night under the stars in the great outdoors.
After a nice, dry, warm sleep we awake to another beautiful spring morning. Leaving Northam we head south down Spencers Brook Road to near Mokine, where we turn into Mokine Road. Next we turn at Leaver Road and find Mokine Nature Reserve, our first stop for the day. The first orchid found for the day is the Green spider orchid or Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is the most widespread of the falcata complex orchids. The prominently clubbed lateral sepals emit pheromone-like odours to attract male thynnine wasps who pollinate the flowers.
Well the next orchid is the bright yellow Common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa)which flowers from August to October and is distributed between Gingin and Bunbury, then inland to Brookton. Donkey orchids are also called Pansy orchids by some, and the shape of the flower matches both common names to a tee.
Next up is the ever faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava) which is arguably the most widespread species of terrestrial orchid in Western Australia. The location we find ourselves in, leads me to believe the orchids growing here are the subspecies “flava”, which is also the most widespread of the 4 named subspecies. These orchids can be found in their hundreds, however we only find scattered individuals and clumps.
Next up we find some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) in both their green and brown forms. These orchids are nearing the end of their season as they are noted as flowering from June to September.
Another related orchid is also located. The distinctive Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is found from Geraldton to Israelite Bay, is another orchid that is regularly found on our treks. This orchid ranges in colour during it’s lifecycle from green to light brown, with the 3 pictured showing this feature.
Then another bright colour catches our eye. A dual-flowered Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing on the road verge. The purple underside to the leaf is a feature to help distinguish it from the other pink fairies.
Further into the reserve I go to try and find anything else and as luck has it I come across a lone Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea), standing tall in the open. In fact they can be up to 450mm in height, however this specimen was around 270mm in height. The short, horizontal petals and lateral sepals are a distinctive feature of this small orchid. And just to record the sighting we did also find a still recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata), which flower March to June.
What a great little spot this turned out to be. We have spent just over 1hr here and have found 8 orchid species. Next time we will need to explore further into the reserve as we were only a few metres in from the road this time. As it is now after 11am we make tracks for our next exploration site.
Day one of our annual road trip. This time however we are travelling with a larger group and are heading up into the Pilbara, where orchids are not located, so I will be recording only the days which include finding orchids. We leave home at 7.45am and head up to West Beach to say goodbye to our grandkids, then as we are over that way we call into the Wind Farm for a quick gander.
Here we find the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta), Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii)and Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia).Deb grabs some quick snaps before we head off west towards Munglinup.
Deb drops me off at the cleared block near the Munglinup Roadhouse, whilst she goes to the toilet. Walking back to meet her I find some donkey orchids in flower. From my knowledge or the area they are either Green Range donkey orchids (Diuris littoralis) or South coast donkey orchids (Diuris brockmanii) which have very similar features and distribution.
From here we head to Ravensthorpe then north to Lake King, where we have a tavern lunch. With full bellies we head west toward Lake Grace. However along the way we look into the verge at South Buniche Nature Reserve. Here we locate 3 different species in the Pterostylis genre. First up is the common Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) followed by some snail orchids. These little guys could possibly be two different species due to their colouring and rosettes. The final orchid is the unique Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii).
We now move onto our planned overnight stay, the Jam Patch, in North Lake Grace. We expected other campers to be here, however we lucked into being all alone. Before setting up camp fully we venture off on the Red loop walk trail in search of orchids. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis setulosa) are the first orchid to be found.
At the edge of a flat granite rock I was lucky enough to stumble across some spider orchids. From the location alongside a granite rock I will take a stab and name these the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia)which occurs between Paynes Find and Norseman during July to September.
It was great to find some spider orchids as it was looking like a Pterostylis type of day. We kept walking the trail and came to the lake which provided great reflection shots and is where the featured image was taken. The only other orchids found though were a great bunch of more Hairy-stemmed snail orchids. So I have posted a photo just to show the number of orchids in such a small location. Also posted a pic of our camp for the night. Was a nice day to start our road trip. Not as many orchid stops as usual, but this trip we are travelling much larger distances.
Running solo again today as Deb has an afternoon shift. I decide to go back to the Wind Farm to see if the Bird orchids have flowered yet. I discovered many rosettes back on the 11/07/2021, so it’s been 4 weeks.
After parking up, I start at the left of the parking lot and find some snail orchids in flower. Very difficult to name snail orchids. The size of the rosette and it’s leaves, length of lateral sepals and plant height varied greatly so there may actually be at least 2 species. Possible options are the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. “coastal snail”), Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis grossa)or Thick-sepalled snail orchid (Pterostylis meridionalis).
I then started up the walking track and ran into a fellow orchid hunter, Kathy M. She was interested in the ID of a snail orchid she had found that had fawnish tones to it as well as one that seemed to have different rosette to others she had found. ID proves difficult and the species may be one of the previously listed options.
We spent quite a while checking out the Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) and the intermingled Bird orchid (Pterostylis sp.) rosettes, which unfortunately have yet to flower.
Kathy was going to check further down the road towards the coast, whilst I went into the scrub looking for the Pink fairy orchids (Caladenia latifolia) which Kathy had mentioned she had found. Three beautiful flowers found in full bloom. They were a very pale shade of pink, almost white in patches.
Flowering near the Pink fairies are some Curled tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii), which are a coastal shell orchid found from Binningup to Esperance.
I spend a few more minutes checking the area and come across further mosquito and shell orchids. I walk back to the car and head back towards the coast. A little ways down the track Kathy had parked up and was fossicking in the roadside scrub. I enquired if she had located much, to which she replied – there are some helmet orchids flowering. I pull over and take some photos of the small Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flower during the period July to early September over a coastal range between Walpole and Esperance.
Other snail orchids found, which all have different features, which makes the task of identification very difficult. I have posted a flower and rosette shot for each distinct orchid and if you can provide any ideas on the likely identification, please do not hesitate to comment.
Now I head off to discover a new location to explore. Another orchid hunter Geoff R, advised me of this location on Twilight Beach Road near Observatory Point. Pulling over onto the limestone I jump out an immediately start exploring the low wind swept coastal scrub. Firstly had to watch my step as there are so many mosquito orchid leaves. Luckily I find one in flower as these orchids flower from June to August, so it is getting towards the end of their season.
Further into the scrub I come across some beautiful little snail orchids with dark sepals, both lateral and dorsal. Still unable to name these confusing little orchids. Moving back towards the car I find 3 Caladenia sp. orchids tempting me with there buds.
Along the vehicle track into the scrub, I come across many more snail orchids which only add to the confusion of ID.
Walking back however, I also discover some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) still in flower. Closer to the Triton I push back into the scrub and are rewarded with a couple of Curled-tongue shell orchids, mosquito orchids and a Caladenia sp. orchid in bud.
3.47 pm so time to move on. Plan was to pop up to Dempster Head and see if the Spectacled donkey orchid was flowering, however I change my mind and pull into Chapmans Point instead. Nothing found on the lookout walk so just made my way down towards the point and checked out underneath shrubs and around the granite rocks.
Have a guess what I found first. That’s right, some more confusing snail orchids. Also found other mosquito orchids in flower. It was an amazing warm sunny winters afternoon, so finding the orchids that I have, just made the day even better. Now time for home.
Planned family picnic cancelled, so we took the opportunity to go for a Sunday drive. Time to check the local area to see if we could find anything special. We headed west first, with a roadside stop producing only Caladenia leaves. We then pulled over for another roadside stop on the Gibson-Dalyup road, which proved more successful.
A donkey orchid catches my eye, then Deb notices I had walked past 2 plants to get to my find. Typical of me to miss ones that Deb then finds. Oh well, a find is a find. The orchid appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which occurs between Denmark and Esperance and flowers from July to September. Leaves of other species located but nothing yet in flower or already past their time.
We now move on to Gibson to see it we find anything new. Once we reach the track off Walker Road we chug along in 1st whilst hanging out the window looking for anything. I spy a nice big Caladenia leaf so pull over to go for an explore. Before that though I make coffees from the thermos. Deb finds a couple of Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which we found here on a previous visit, however took some photos to record it nevertheless. Another Pterostylis orchid found however not fully open. The Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) will be a common sight soon enough.
Slightly disappointed with our luck so far today, so we move on to our Crawford Road location. Again we appear to be too early as we find many orchid leaves, with some in bud. So where to go now? Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) of course. Surely we will find something in flower there.
We decide to mix it up and turn down a track in the arboretum we had not checked out before. This lead us nowhere that seemed likely to produce orchids so we found our way back to known territory. First up though, we head to a sunny spot to have lunch. Curried egg sandwiches eaten whilst checking out nearby spots. Deb finds so many budding spider orchids in a spot we had not really checked before, so we now know where to check out later in the season.
Moving on we head to the location where we have previously found Western tiny blue orchids. Deb drops me off to walk through the plot, whilst she drives around the boundary. I find some what I believe to be Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) however one of them is quite dark so am not so sure. Could be Dark banded greenhoods or Mallee Banded greenhoods. Thoughts welcome on the ID. No tiny blues found as they are listed as flowering from August, so again we must be too early. EDIT: I have been advised by a knowledgeable person the green orchid is a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) (green form) due to opaque lateral sepals without stripes, compared to the earlier greenhood found. Also confirms Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula)for the darker greenhood. Thanks MP
Back on the main road into the arboretum Deb spies a small flowering spider orchid blowing in the strong winds. Very difficult conditions to try and get a good photo to assist with identification. I will provide two options. Either Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila)or Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) as both flower early in July and extend into the Esperance area. What are your thoughts? EDIT:C. microchila has been identified by a knowledgeable person. Thanks MP.
Then it was time to check out the plot where we find our king spider orchids. Deb as usual finds the first one in flower. The Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) as the name suggests is found around Esperance. It actually ranges between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid and inland to Scaddan. It is said to flower from August to October so the few orchids we found today must be some early bloomers.
We then move on to the plot where we find snail orchids in most years. This time is no exception. The snail orchids grow from quite a large rosette of leaves, have 2 or 3 stem leaves on a smooth stem and uniformly thick lateral sepals. I have been advised by a knowledgeable person from the WA Native Orchid Facebook group that they are most likely the yet unnamed Helms snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Helms’). Also found some spider orchids in bud.
It’s now 2 pm so we make tracks for home as Deb commences her shift at 4 pm. Was not expecting to find 2 species of Spider orchids in flower so it turned out to be a great Sunday exploration.