27/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 3

National Parks, Peak Charles NP, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

Well after a wet night we awake to a fine, cloudy day with white fast moving clouds covering the peak of Peak Charles. An amazing sight it is!!

After breakfast we jump in the Triton and head off south towards nearby Peak Elenore, where we plan to explore for orchids. Driving along the track southwards we come across a track leading west back towards the rocks so Deb decides to check it out. We come across someone camping so nearly just turned back but luckily I noticed we could bypass a fallen tree and get closer to the rocks. Pulling up alongside we venture into the rocky slope which is quite well vegetated and is still quite green. Might be due to being on the lee side of the hill.

Almost immediately green spider orchids are found. Two subspecies of Calendenia attingens are found in this area. They are very similar orchids with the main distinguishing feature being the lateral sepals. Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) has upswept lateral sepals and the Granite mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. effusa) has barely upswept lateral sepals, plus the lamina calli of the Small mantis orchid extend further onto the red apex than other species, which assists with identification, however is still proves difficult.

In the midst of so many mantis orchids a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. These orchids flower July to early October over an easterly range from Kondinin to Madura. They can be found growing around granite outcrops. Other specimens were found later on in the search of this location.

Another spider orchid is found which is proving more difficult to identify. The labellum has very dark distinct red lines and the petals and sepals are quite narrow. I will be naming these orchids the Ironcaps spider orchid (Caladenia paradoxa) which can be found on granite outcrops and is said to intergrade with C. microchila at the eastern extent of it’s distribution (Wubin to Norseman). Please correct me if I’m wrong as the distribution listed does not include Peak Charles specifically.

A rufous greenhood type orchid is the next found. Various specimens are found scattered around and they differ in colour, lateral sepals positions and general aspect. Naming these orchids is proving very difficult. The specimens with long thin apically upcurved lateral sepals could be the Striped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis zebrina) which is recorded as being found between Mt Ridley to Merredin growing on or near granite outcrops.

There is a brown coloured greenhood with much shorter lateral sepals that are quite hairy looking and quite square at the top rather than being rounded. Based on this I’ll name this specimen the Straight-topped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis sp. “straight tops”) which is located between the Murchison River and Peak Charles, our current location. However this orchid is not listed in the latest reference book so please correct me if you believe I am incorrect.

Many other rufous greenhoods were found and naming them is just too difficult, so I’m just uploading some pictures with the hope that someone can provide some guidance.

An unexpected find was the Sigmoid spider orchid (Caladenia sigmoidea). For very small orchids they are quite distinct with red and cream colourings and of course the ‘S’ shaped apex to the labellum, from which it derives it’s name.

Moving on, we head south towards Peak Elenore. We don’t go far before a change in vegetation makes up stop to have a look around. First up is a rufous greenhood orchid just budding up. Then further along another lone orchid is found, however this one is in full flower. Due to the long thin sepals this orchid could be a Slender rufous greenhood (Pterostylis macrosceles). It is recorded as growing between Goomalling and Queen Victoria Rocks, which is someway North of our current location, however Florabase records it as being in the Esperance shire, so I am happy with my ID.

After 30mins of searching, nothing else is found, so we move on. This time we stop in a white sandy patch to see if anything different can be found. After a few minutes with nothing found we move on and get to the Salmon Gum patch, where we were originally going to camp after finding the camping ground full. So happy we are camping where we are as this place is rather dry and barren. However there are orchids here. First up is the Insect-lipped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis insectifera) which is located between Karroun Hill, Ravensthorpe and Norseman. An exerted labellum and down-curved lateral sepals are distinctive features.

Another orchid found could very well be the Elegant rufous greenhood (Pterostylis elegantissima) due to the wide-spaced flowers and laterally-splayed lateral sepals. The labellum is almost blackish, dark green. Unfortunately, one of my specimens two flowers has a green labellum, which disagrees with my ID. However the orchids occur in locations between Goomalling and Salmon Gums, which concurs with my ID. Another case of ID confusion!

As it’s now 12.30ish we decide to give Peak Elenore a miss and head back to camp to grab a bite of lunch. After lunch the 2 Deb’s have a rest so I head off looking for a way up onto the rock. It is way too steep close to camp so I follow the base for quite a while. At one point I stumble across a small spider orchid growing a the base of the granite. Struggled to get some good photos but they are posted below just for recording purposes. By the off white colouring I believe it to be a Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) which is found from Kalbarri to Esperance flowering from July till mid-October.

Nearby other rufous greenhoods were found. I think some are more Striped rufous greenhoods and one with cupped lateral sepals I am unsure of.

Not finding much else I decide to leave the rock s and head into the surrounding woodland/scrub to see if anything different is found. First up only more rufous greenhoods are found then by chance a small patch of Shy greenhoods (Pterostylis allantoidea) are found. The little guys belong to the snail orchid complex and flower in the area bordered by Ravensthorpe, Coolgardie and Israelite Bay, during August and September.

Stumbled across the remnants of a Caladenia roei complex orchid then on the track back to camp some more rufous greenhoods are found.

Peak Elenore will have to wait for another visit as time has gotten away from us and this is our last night camping. Appears the rufous greenhood orchids are the dominant orchid complex at Peak Charles N. P. at this late time of the season. It was still a pleasure finding them and getting out into the “Great Outdoors”.

26/09/2020 ….. Peak Charles Long Weekend – Day 2

National Parks, Peak Charles NP, Weekend away, Western Australian Orchids

Waking up in the great outdoors and enjoying a hearty breakfast is such a wonderful way to start the day. As we could not find room at the established campground, we need to drive back to the adjoining day use car park for the beginning of the walk trail which heads up the peak. It is along the flat part of this trail that we find our first orchid. One Rufous greenhood (Pterostylis roensis) is found growing under the trees. This is a inland orchid found growing between Mt Jackson and Balladonia in the months of September to November. The relatively short lateral sepals are a distinctive feature.

The trail then commences a climb up the rocks with the ultimate goal of summiting Peak Charles. We however only plan on reaching the plateau between Peak Charles and the smaller mound to the east. We made it to Mushroom rock without finding another orchid which is a bit concerning however we rest for some photo opps then move on up further with hope in our hearts.

Deb locates a patch of mignonette orchids, however only one was in bloom. So I grab a few pics for record purposes and continue up to the plateau. They appear to be the Granite mignonette orchid (Microtis graniticola) due to the location, green coloured flowers and concave dorsal sepal. As the name suggests theses orchids occur on granite outcrops ranging from Mullewa to Balladonia.

Many spent donkey orchids Diuris sp. are found however none still in flower unfortunately. Once we reached the plateau we headed east with the plan to cross over to the other mount. Along the plateau it is devoid of orchids until we find another rufous greenhood in the throngs of opening up.

It is over 1 hr since we found the first orchid then excitedly we stumble across the small Sigmoid spider orchid (Caladenia sigmoidea) growing under some protective bushes. These wonderful little spider orchids are found inland between Mt Jackson to Mt Ragged. They only grow to 150mm in height and are distinguished by their S-shaped labellum apex.

Well the gully between the 2 mounts is deeper than we remember so we back track down the hill to follow the base of the rock around and then climb back up the 2nd mount.

Pushing our way onto the next mount we come across some other rufous greenhoods. Different species though this time. From my research I believe them to be the Striped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis zebrina) which occurs on granite outcrops from Merredin to Mt Ridley.

Deb is onto her spotting as usual and comes across a small patch of Shy greenhoods (Pterostylis allantoidea) which are a very distinctive orchid. Prominently extended dorsal sepal produces a pointed hood over a thick sausage like labellum. Found over a triangular range between Coolgardie, Raventhorpe and Israelite Bay.

Hidden under the same bush as the Shy greenhoods was a green coloured rufous greenhood. Solely due to the bright green colouring I am naming this one the Green spooned-lipped rufous greenhood (Pterostylis virens) as most others are green-brown or similar variations. If I had taken a photo of the labellum, this may have confirmed or otherwise my identification.

Over the remainder of the time we searched, the only orchids found were many more rufous greenhoods, of possible different species. Tough job trying to name these orchids. Assistance would be greatly received.

Nearing 1pm so we decide to head back down to the Triton and drive back to camp for some lunch and a quiet afternoon relaxing.

Very pleased to have found the Sigmoid spider orchids, however disappointed at the lack of Donkey orchids and other spider orchid species. It definitely was the day of the rufous greenhood complex orchids, which was wonderful.

2019 Road Trip – Sue’s Bridge to Margaret River

Blackwood River NP, Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip

29/08/2019

Waking up to another wonderful morning in the bush, we enjoy breakfast then pack up the campers before going on an exploration to the river bank. Right on our doorstep, or more accurately, the edge of our camping site we find a great patch of Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) which flower July through September from Kalbarri to east of Esperance, with the largest concentration from Perth to Albany.

Over near the toilets close to a fallen log I find some snails orchids. From the crinkled rosette leaves these must be Slender snail orchids (Pterostylis crispula) which are found between Perth and Albany growing in woodlands and forests.

Also discovered on the walk were Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) which have many more stem leaves, thickened lateral sepals and broad petals which have started to turn reddish.

We reached the river bank, west of the actual road bridge, and quickly took some shots before heading back to camp so we could head off towards the coast, leaving the Blackwood River National Park behind. The only other orchid found were some poor specimens of Banded greenhoods (Pterosylis vittata).

Back to the Brockman Hwy we go before turning right towards Karridale. We pull into the sevo at Karridale to fuel up and have a toilet break. From here we cross over the Bussell Hwy onto Bushby road. At the Caves Road intersection we turn right and head north until we find Boranup Drive. Taking this road we head into the Boranup forest (Mud Map SW 26), which is a part of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Our first stop is the Boranup Lookout. From here you could clearly see the coast. I take the short walk to the toilets and it is on the side of this track that I find some Midge orchids. These are brighter in colour however the size of the labellum still leads me to name them Midge rather than Mosquito.

We continue along Boranup Drive until we reach the 4WD track named Love Spring Road. This proved a very picturesque drive however orchids were hard to come by. We actually passed a group of cars which had pulled over for what appeared to be wedding photos. At a low point in the road we pulled over and found some more snail orchids. These little guys have short lateral sepals, a fleshy rosette and multiple stem leaves so I have identified them as Murdoch spider orchids (Pterostylis ectypha), which I have found previously in Yangebup. They flower in a range from Perth and Walpole during the months of August and September.

Further along the track we stop to check out a huge Balga (Xanthorrhoea preissii) and on the opposite side of the track some more Midge orchids are found. Also another Murdoch snail orchid is found.

Love Spring Road runs into Point road, which is just another 4WD track. As we are getting close to Point road Campground, where we plan to stop for lunch, I jump out the Triton to walk a bit. On the side of the track, growing in a mossy mound, I find a nice hood of Murdoch snail orchids. Nothing else found though. Point Road Campground is also located on the Cape to Cape Walk Track. We had planned to stay here the night, however as the weather was deteriorating fast we decided we may get flooded in, so after enjoying a bite to eat we move on to the coast.

Just after 2.30pm we arrive at the coast, very near Cape Freycinet. The wet and windy weather has arrived with a vengeance. In this terrible weather we check out the sights and actually find some snail orchids. A hood was found growing on a boulder right on the verge of Conto Road. The small ones growing right on the rocks of the coast appear to be Coastal short-eared snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal clubbed sepals’) which flower August to October in locations from Perth to Israelite Bay, whilst the ones growing on the boulder appear to be more Murdoch snail orchids.

We have decided we will overnight near Margaret River, so head off on Conto Road, checking out the Conto Campground, where Richard has stayed previously. However we move on as it was very wet with puddles everywhere and we did not wish to set up our campers in this weather. As soon as we got phone signal we googled accommodation options. As a RAC member we finally decided on the RAC Margaret River Nature Park. We booked a 2 bedroom cabin and were so glad we did as the heavens opened up even more overnight.

Was a fun day with an awesome drive through the beautiful Boranup forest and the coast was beautiful even though the weather was terrible. A few orchids found, however I thought we would find more in the South West. Oh well we still have a few days left before we are due in Perth.

Stokes National Park has Bunnies

Day Trip, National Parks, Road Trip, Stokes NP

19/04/2019

My sister Lorraine and her husband Ken are passing through in their caravan, on the way to Handorf in South Australia for a holiday with another couple. They arrived Thursday afternoon and will be heading off Sunday.  So today being Good Friday, we are taking them on a visit to Stokes National Park.

Specifically we are visiting the Eastern side of the park to see Moir’s homestead and Fanny Cove. The weather is currently wet and windy but is planned to clear up in the afternoon. As we drive west it slowly but surely improves.

First point of call is the historic Moir homestead ruins which date back to the late 1800’s.

After a good look around the historic ruins it was time to move onto Fanny Cove. We drove straight to the beach. Well there was not much of a beach due to the large swell and high tide. So we moved to the day use area to have a bite to eat, as it was past lunchtime.

After checking out the camping area, we head off towards Shoal Cape. At the intersection of the track Deb spies some little White bunny orchids (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) growing on the track verge. Sorry guys but I have to get a photo or two.

A little further up the track Deb spots a triple header, so we stop again for a photo.

White bunny orchid

Can have up to 7 flowers per orchid

After a steep decent down from the escarpment we reach the camp ground at Shoal Cape. We walk to the lookout over the ocean where I grab a candid shot of the group, before we move off. On the way back another White bunny orchid was found so of course I had to grab a photo.

The destination for afternoon tea is a Shire of Esperance managed camp ground at Quagi Beach. First up we drive around the newly improved camp ground, which was 100% full, then made our way to the day use area to have afternoon tea. After a cuppa and some Easter biscuits we moved to the viewpoint over the beach.

Quagi Beach

Viewpoint from the steps to the beach

Time to head back to Esperance. It was a bonus finding some white bunny orchids, which topped off an awesome day on the South East Coast of WA. I trust our visitors enjoyed themselves.