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 😦

25/07/2020 ….. Winter Afternoon Wander

Dempster Head, Esperance, Western Australian orchids

After Deb heads of to her Saturday night shift I decide to go check out Dempster Head Reserve and see if I can finally locate the helmet orchids others have mentioned growing there. We had previously found leaves which we were unsure if they were Corybas or Cyrtostylis orchids. It will be great to answer the mystery.

Parking up at the Rotary Lookout, I walk off in the direction of the port as that is where we have found the mysterious leaves. First up though I am distracted by the many snail orchids popping up in the usual, plus very unusual, locations. Unsure of the exact species however finding some growing on the top of a boulder was a unique find.

In the known patch of mysterious leaves I am lucky enough to find a couple in flower to answer the question of what species they belong to. The Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) is confirmed as that species. These are found flowering from July till early-September over south coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. The Latin name limpidus alludes to the transparent dorsal sepal and lateral sepals which form the helmet. Further around the trail I locate flowering corybas orchids in another two locations, so I am a very happy man.

Final orchid found for the afternoon was the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) which was located right alongside the walking track. A widespread orchid found between Perth and Israelite Bay during the winter months.

Moving to the West Beach side of the reserve the orchids become few and far between and as it is now after 4:30pm I take an photo overlooking a pool of water with views in the background of West Beach. A calming shot to end an enjoyable few hours on a winters’ Saturday afternoon.

20/07/2020 ….. R.D.O. Ramble to Ravensthorpe

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Day Trip, Esperance, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Pink Lake, Springdale NR, Stokes NP, Western Australian orchids

I have taken an Rostered Day Off (RDO) today so I can spend some more time with my sister Lorraine and her hubby Ken. Yesterday we went north of the South Coast Hwy and detoured back east of Esperance. Today we are going west and staying within 50kms of the coast.

Our first point of call is along the edge of our famous Pink Lake. Here we discover some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) growing in the dense undergrowth. These unusual orchids flower during the winter months over an area stretching from Perth to Israelite Bay.

Nothing more found other than Pterostylis rosettes, with some in bud, so we move onwards. Next stop is the Stokes National Park camping grounds. Actually we find orchids before the campground, just growing along the roadside. First up are some wispy type spider orchids. Due to the colouring of the flowers and the larger leaf width, I believe these orchids to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians). As the name suggests it is a common orchid with a large distribution, Kalbarri to Cape Arid National Park. It also has a long season, flowering from July to mid-October.

Intermixed with the spider orchids were patches of yellow. Bright yellow South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) are found from Denmark to Munglinup during the winter months. They were first recognised as distinct in 1999 when collected near Munglinup, which is approximately 20kms to the west of our current location.

We finally make it to the campground and it was a let down with only a Dark Banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) in flower and a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) finished for it’s season. We did however stop and have morning tea overlooking the Stokes Inlet.

We move on further west along the South Coast Hwy, before turning south down Springdale Road. We pullover to the side of the road at Springdale Nature Reserve for a quick check. Straight away we find the Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta) which blooms from late-July till mid-October between Bindoon and Esperance. Prominently clubbed petals and sepals ,plus the dark red labellum with dark red calli are distinctive features.

Also found were the South coast donkey orchids, with many more to come. However we must push on as it is now past lunch time and we still have Munglinup Beach campground to check out.

Well first up we drive down to the Oldfield River and park up on the granite rock bank, so we can have a quick scout around. Other than one South coast donkey orchid and many leaves in bud, nothing much was found so we quickly move on.

We now venture down to the Munglinup Beach campground (Mud Map SE 33) and I go looking for the elusive helmet orchid, whilst Deb takes Lorraine and Ken down to the beach. I come across loads of leaves and then find some sprouting flowers, however they are not fully open. By this time Deb has made her way into the Agonis flexuosa grove and we both simultaneously find fully open ones in different patches. They are confirmed as being the Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flowers from July to early-September in coastal locations between Walpole and Esperance. We had to lie flat on the ground to get the photos as they are only 20mm in height.

Very happy to have found these beautiful small orchids flowering as they are listed for the Mud Map reference. Also found underneath the Agonis flexuosa trees are snail orchids. They appear to be the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal snail’) which is found between Bremer Bay and Israelite Bay during the months of July and August. Distinctive features are bloated appearance and small thickened lateral sepals.

Leaving Munglinup Beach we now drive west towards Hopetoun our planned lunch stop. On the way we check out both Starvation Bay and Masons Bay campgrounds. Choosing the bakery for lunch we walk down to the foreshore and finally fill our bellies.

We now head north to Ravensthorpe where we grabbed a ginger ice-cream from Yummylicious Candy Shack. Sooooo good!! After showing Lorraine and Ken the Grain Silo’s, we head west out to Kukenarup Memorial, one of our regular orchid haunts.

Just past the Eagle Wings to the left is a wonderful little Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) which is found between Israelite Bay and Kalbarri flowering during August, September and October.

Next up we find the Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which flowers over along season, May till October. They can occupy many different habitats, (woodlands, shrublands, granite outcrops and forests) over a range from Israelite Bay to the Murchison River. Many specimens are found at this location today.

On the return leg of the trail we find some donkey orchids. As mentioned in the Esperance Wildflowers blog (refer links) the Green Range and South coast donkey orchids overlap in their distribution and have very similar features which makes identifying them so much harder. I will call those found today South coast donkey orchids as the labellum mid lobe has light patches on the edges. However I am open to correction.

Final orchid for the day was the reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which occurs between Geraldton and Israelite Bay from August to October. As it is now past 5pm the light is fading fast, so the pics are not the best, however they still record the finding.

From here it is a quick dash to the lookout on Mt Desmond, east of Ravensthorpe, to catch the sunset. Another wonderful day showing Lorraine and Ken our beautiful SE coast and surrounds.

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River

Numerous days, Road Trip

Waking up to a wet day we decide to book another night, if we can and spend the day being a tourist in Margaret river. We were in luck with being able to book another night so we then planned our day. Last night we had organised to meet up with an old friend, Duncan, at Knotting Hill Estate. First point of call was Bettenay Wines which also specialises in Nougat.

After sampling a few liqueurs and nougat, we make our purchases then moved on to The Grove Distillery. Here I pay to taste the Rums whilst Deb and Richard taste other things. We end up buying quite a few small bottles of pre-mixed drinks for Christmas. The gardens around The Grove made for some nice photos.

Next point of call was to be the Margaret River Chocolate Co. but we got a bit lost and found the Margaret River Dairy Company instead. Some nice tasting enjoyed before buying some yoghurt and cheeses.

Next we visited the Margaret River Nuts and Cereals where we sampled more and purchased more. Becoming a habit of the day it seems. They are developing the place to have outside games and there was a great marionette mural which was begging for a photo shoot.

Finally reached the Margaret River Chocolate Co. where the samples were few and limited. Prices were a bit steep as well so we settled on buying a coffee only. After taking a relaxing time drinking our coffee it was time to meet Duncan for lunch.

We arrived at Knotting Hill Estate before Duncan, so we had started our tastings and found out they only provide platters not actual meals. After Duncan arrived and had his tastings, it was decided we would try another winery for lunch. Not before we all bought our share though.

The winery chosen to have lunch at was Woody Nook Wines, where we started with a few tastings of course. A triple pack of Nooky Delight was purchased and shared between us, Richard and Duncan. We then moved into the restaurant area and grabbed a round table and ordered beers. Deb and I ordered a Tasting plate to share, which was an amazing array of tastes and textures. So worth it. After a great catch-up with Duncan it was time to depart.

Back to our cabin for a quick rest before we take the so called 10 minute walk into town. It may take a normal person 10 minutes power walking but we were looking out for orchids so it was a bit more leisurely paced. The logs were so covered in moss it was so cool to see. Many round orchid leaves found but it appears we have missed the flowering. Then amazingly we find a Corybas in flower. A solitary Common helmet orchid (Corybas recurvus) was found growing in the moss on a fallen tree trunk.

Then a bit further on also growing on a fallen tree truck in the green moss, were some Slender snail orchids (Pterostylis crispula) with the distinctive crinkled leafed rosette.

Moving on as it was getting late, we finally get to town and pop into the local IGA for some drinks. The walk back detoured via the Margaret River Fish Ladder which was an interesting construction.

Back to the cabin where we had dinner and crashed after a full on tourist day. Lucky to find 2 orchid species on the day. Will have to return one day as there is so much to see and do in this neck of the woods.