1st stop – Walker Street Bushland – Gibson, where we check out the burnt-out scrub. Along the edge of the north/south track we locate some greenhoods. The bright green ones must be the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the brownish coloured ones may either be the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) or the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). All 3 species are recorded as being found this far east, however the references state the sp.vittata is found in soil pockets on granite this far east, which does not match the habitat these ones were found in.
2nd stop – Bush block opposite Stafford Road, further north on the Esperance-Coolgardie Highway. More Banded greenhoods found as well as a good patch of Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves. The surprise find though was a large hood of Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) growing under the protection of the shrubs. These orchids flower May to August between Northampton and Toolinna.
3rd stop – Boydell Road, even further north along the Highway. Nothing found other than more Hare orchid leaves so our final and 4th stop is our usual location on Fleming Grove Road. Further Banded greenhoods found, plus some Hare orchids still in flower. Past their best but easily recognisable.
Average day for orchids, however it was wonderful to get out under a beautiful blue winters sky. Nothing better than a Sunday drive with orchids as an added bonus.
We awake to a crisp winters’ morning at the Chicken Ranch in Varley. After a leisurely breakfast, we break camp and head straight for Dempster Rock to look for orchids. Nothing in bloom found. Disappointed, we move on and stop at a new location for us, in the Lake Hurlstone Nature Reserve.
This location may prove fruitful in later stages of the season, as it has a few different habitats to check out. We did locate some orchids this time as well, so all is good. First up appears to be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) due to its small size and colouring. Further specimens are found with more stem leaves, taller plants and more flowers, so some may be the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea). I will post pics of all, so please assist with the identification if you can.
Also found lots of spent White bunny orchids, with a lone one still identifiable as such. This one had a crinkled edged stem leaf, so I initially thought it to be the Crinkled-leafed bunny orchid(Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus)which flowers during April and May, hence why only spent flowers were found, except for this late flowering one of course. However, using Florabase, the only listed bunny orchid found in both the Shire of Kulin and the Shire of Kondinin is the Blunt-leaved bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. brevifolius) which flower May and June and only have up to 3 flowers. The leaf is also crinkled-edged so I am happy with this identification. Seems subsp. undulatus has been cancelled in Florabase and the common name of Crinkled-leaved bunny orchid given to subsp. brevifolius. The name game is never ending with native orchids. Also found on the way back to the Triton was a nice specimen of the Dark banded greenhood.
Leaving this new location, we head north to Hyden, where we enjoy an amazing hamburger for lunch. As Richard is running late, we make tracks for Anderson Rocks, our planned destination for this long-weekend.
During the weekend I would climb the rock and record the sounds of the frogs in the FrogID App and then attempt to upload my recordings. I received a reply from the Frog ID App on the 20/07/22 advising they had identified 2 species, so my uploads were successful. The species found were the Bleating Froglet (Crinia pseudinsignifera)and Crawling Toadlet (Pseudophryne guentheri).
After a great long-weekend camping with Richard, Sandy and Noel at Anderson Rocks, it is time to travel home. As per usual we do not travel home in a straight line and try our best to take roads yet travelled. So, from Hyden we make our way to Allen Rocks Road, where we stop at an old rubbish dump it seems, as there is so much rubbish lying around. We found some old Gest cooldrink bottles and an old enamel pot to add to our collection. The only orchids found here were some yet to fully open shell orchids.
Next stop was on Dragon Rocks Road in the Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve. This roadside stop turned up some Dark banded greenhoods. Then further south on the Newdgate Road North at another roadside stop we only found some spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) which are also an early flowering orchid.
Final stop for the day other than to fuel up in Lake King and a toilet break in Munglinup. Arrived back in Esperance around 6.15pm and had dinner at our sons’ house, before heading home to unpack. A great weekend but not so great on the orchid front.
Well after all the stress of the last month or so, it was great to get out in nature again with my darling wife for a good old orchid hunt. We decided we would head out East and see if anything new has sprouted since our visit in April.
We went straight out to our Parmango Road location and found some beautiful Scented autumn leek orchids (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’), which as the species name suggests, flower from April through to early July. Their stark white colouring stands out in the dull green greys of the surrounding foliage.
Another flowering orchid found was the Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) which commences flowering as early as March. They can have up to 3 flowers per orchid (rarely 4) so I will post 3 of our triple headers found.
. Only spiral leaves and buds were found of Pterostylis species, so no other photos taken. Beaumont Nature Reserve is our next location; however, orchids are very light on there as well. At least the first orchids found are new for the 2022 season. The common Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) is found in isolated specimens of various sizes and stages of flowering.
The only other orchid found flowering was the Red-lipped bunny orchid (Eriochilus valens), which is also an early flowering orchid, starting in March and finishing in May, so we are lucky to find some still going. I believe this is our first recording of this species which is exciting. It was the leaf shape and petals clasping the column that allowed me to ID these. Also, the latest references now record their location as far east as Condingup whilst my older reference book has it occurring only as far east as Munglinup.
We now move back towards Esperance and pull into Condingup Peak. Snail orchid rosettes found with Sun orchid leaves growing out of the moss on the rocks. Bunny orchids are finished up here and we find a recognisable Hare orchid.
Final location for the day is Coolinup road, where we find some more orchids that are all past their prime as well. More Hare and Bunny orchids are found. The bunny orchids may be the newly named Eastern granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. ‘eastern granites’) which is listed as being located between Esperance and Balladonia during the months of April and May. Growing on granite, smooth leaf and lack of pink colouring confirm this ID. Thoughts??
Well that is our day done. With only 5 species found it was not that great, however recording 2 different species of Eriochilus was exciting as both are new to us.
Well, what else do you do on a RDO in spring but go Orchid Hunting. Today we head out east of Esperance in the hope of finding some different species to those found around the lakes and at Helms Arboretum last weekend.
First up we head past Condingup and head north up Parmango Road. At our usual location we slowly drive in, hanging out the windows looking for orchids, then park up and head further in on foot.
At the clearing where we park up, we are surprised to find the beautiful Custard orchid (Thelymitra villosa). This striking orchid flowers during the spring months, over a large range from Northampton to Israelite Bay. It is known to have up to 20 flowers per plant.
Located very close by is the glistening Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis). This sun loving orchid flowers from August to early November over a similar range, Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.
Time to head off on foot as you do find more orchids this way. Backtracking toward Parmango Road first though as Deb spied a bird orchid on the drive in. Only one specimen found and appears to be the Bearded bird orchid (Pterostylis turfosa) as the species named Esperance bird orchid was included as an eastern variety of P. turfosa.
Also found here was a smaller yellow orchid. The Bee orchid (Diuris laxiflora) also flowers during the spring months, though only flowers as far northwest as Gingin from Esperance.
Finally, we head west along the track. A single, solitary Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) is found. No others were found along this track today. The prominently clubbed sepals allowed me to ID it, as the similarly located and similarly featured Heberle’s spider orchid causes no end of confusion, when trying to ID these king type spider orchids.
Another small yellow orchid catches our eye. The tiny Twisted sun orchid (Thelymitra flexuosa), is so named due to a distinctive zig-zagged flower stem. The flowers themselves are listed as being 12 – 15mm across which is smaller than a 5c piece. We have only found this species a couple times before, so this is an exciting find.
Amazingly the next orchid is also yellow in colour. The more common Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is so named due to the antennae like structures to the column. These orchids flower as far north as Shark Bay from Israelite Bay to our east.
Finally, an orchid that is not yellow in colour. The striking Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media subsp.media) can stand up to 600mm in height and can have up to 100 yellowish-green flowers per plant. Each flower is miniscule being only 2-3mm across.
The surprise find for the day was a solitary hammer orchid, which is well and truly fertilised and slowly shriveling up. The only recorded hammer orchid in the Shire of Esperance is the King-in-his-carriage (Drakaea glyptodon). The distinctly pouched labellum is not apparent, though it may have just shrivelled away.
Another single specimen found. Hiding in a bush the Shy sun orchid (Thelymitra graminea)is living up to its common name. There are four visually similar blue sun orchids flowering in the Esperance district so my identification may be incorrect, so please feel free to enlighten me.
Next up is an orchid that apparently smells bad. As they are so small and close to the ground, I have never put that to the sniff. The White fairy orchid (Caladenia marginata) is an orchid that is stimulated by fire and is usually found around granite outcrops. That is the case for our nearby Cape Le Grand rock location, however no visible granite at this location.
Another sun orchid is found in the old damp gravel pit area, however due to the deep cleft in the mid-lobe of the column I believe it to be the Slender sun orchid (Thelymitra vulgaris). They are one of the weird self-pollinating orchids, as are the Twisted sun orchids.
Next up is a mutated orchid I believe. It appears to be a Lemon-scented sun orchid however it does not have a normal looking column. I would love to have your thoughts on this unusual specimen.
Another amazing orchid is found poking up through the undergrowth. Rattle beaks (Lyperanthus serratus) in its dull green and maroon colourings is a beautiful orchid. They may have up to 10 flowers per plant and can reach heights of 500mm. They have a distinctive leaf which we regularly find prior to the flowering season but feel blessed when we find one flowering.
In the gravelly or rocky wet area, we were staggered to find the Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans). We had previously found this orchid at Thomas River and Dempster Head which are in listed habitat of near coastal granite. We are around 25kms from the coast with no apparent granite so did not expect to find these orchids here. Actually, we have also found them at Boyatup which is a similar distance inland but also has granite everywhere.
Further orchids were found but not great photos taken so will record them here and put up the best photo I have of them. Zebra orchid (Caladenia cairnsiana) in a nice bright red form. Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) in washed out colours plus the Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) with its beautiful red lined sepals and petals.
Well, this track walked along proved a great spot with many species found. We can’t linger at one place too long so back to the Triton we trudge and onward to our next location.
We pull into Beaumont Nature Reserve which is little further north along Parmango Road. Here we again make our way on foot as the track is too tight and will scratch the crap out of the Triton. It is not long before we find our first orchid. Interestingly it is another Rattle Beaks, closely followed by more Zebra orchids and Bee orchids
Walking further along the track we find other previously found orchids. This time another Purple enamel orchid appears shining in some brief sunlight, further Common mignonette orchids stand tall and yellow Lemon-scented sun orchids are visible against the drying foliage.
Next up the blue sun orchids start to appear in numbers. From the thin leaf I believe they are further Shy sun orchids and another Slender sun orchid is found, with its deeply clefted column mid lobe. Maybe we will find something new here the further we venture in.
And guess what? We did find something new for the day. From what I can tell this spider orchid appears to be a Hybrid but could also just be a pale coloured Esperance king spider. What are your thoughts?
Another yellow orchid is found, and it is amazing it has taken this long to find the very widespread common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). These orchids vary greatly in the brightness of their yellow and the patterns of their markings.
The next orchid found is confusing as the location would lead the ID to be the Short sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura), however a lack of clubbing to the lateral sepals seems to indicate the Ant orchid (C. roei)may be the correct ID, but these orchids only go as far East as Ravensthorpe. However, my iNaturalist record has confirmed the first choice.
A new colour for the day appears in the undergrowth. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is an unexpected find. They are however listed as occurring as far east as Israelite Bay, so should not be a surprise. The pink colouration is varied from very pale pink, almost white to vivid pink.
Talking about a splash of yellow. We have finally reached the granite area with a stream running through it and there is a good number of orchids flowering here. A standout is a great clump of the Elegant donkey orchid (Diuris concinna) which is bright yellow with some small brown markings. This is the best bunch I’ve ever seen.
Flowering nearby was the closely related Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) which is known to grow on shallow soil on granite outcrops. They were found in large numbers the more we ventured.
As pictured above with the bee orchids was the small Swamp mignonette orchid (Microtis atrata) which as the name suggests are found in seasonally wet flats and run-off areas around granite outcrops. They are only 40 to 80mm in height.
Other orchids were found growing on the shallow soil surrounding the granite, including Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) and Lemon-scented sun orchids. Rabbit orchids have ear-like petals that provide the common name and very forward projecting lateral sepals.
Plus of course granite loving orchids are also found. The Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) is an inland occurring orchid that flowers from August to November, however, the Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) is also recorded as being found on inland granite outcrops northeast of Esperance and flowers during August and September. I think we have found both as the Coastal sun orchid is said to have a fleshy flower stem and the photos do seem to show one with a thicker stem.
Other orchids found in the woodlands and on the granite were more Common mignonette orchids and Shy sun orchids.
The most exciting find at this location was the hybrid of the Lemon-scented sun orchid and one of the blue sun orchids. This hybrid is a wonderful pinkish tone with bright yellow antennae. (Thelymitra x)
What a great location this has turned out to be, however, we decide to move on. Next stop is Condingup Hill. (Mud Map SE39) We had barely turned off Fisheries Road when the first orchids are seen. The common Purple enamel orchid comes in first place for this location, closely followed by the small Twisted sun orchid.
Next up a king type spider orchid is found. However, I have no idea if it is an Esperance king, Heberle’s or a hybrid. Both the aforementioned species have spreading petals/sepals and with this specimen they are hanging. They appear to be clubbed and particularly thin when compared to the large labellum. Ideas on ID welcome.
Higher up the track at the swampy flat area we find some more Swamp mignonette orchids and a Lemon-scented sun orchid.
At the corner, underneath a bush we are happy to find the Bearded bird orchid in flower. Actually, there is more than one in flower which is great.
We choose not the check out the lookout or Telstra tower area, so we drive back down and look along Fisheries Road just before the Condingup townsite sign. As expected, we locate some Esperance white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. crassa) growing in the swampy ground.
The only other orchids found flowering here were some Purple enamel orchids. So, we grab some quick snaps then jump back into the Triton and head west.
We turn into Ridgelands Road and head north. Stopping at a patch of non-farmland we venture down into what appears to be an area leading to a swamp/lake. The ground is covered in dry leaf litter but growing here and there are some tall sun orchids. Most likely Shy sun orchids again due to location and thickness of the leaf.
Moving to the other side of the road, it is apparent the vegetation is different and straight away we find some Esperance white spider orchids.
Another, Caladenia species found which occurs between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay is the Short sepaled spider orchid. This small spider orchid is distinguished by its south easterly location and short sepal tips which are clubbed. At least these ones have clubs unlike the one found earlier today. There colouring varies considerably from dark red to light green.
Other orchids found include the ever-reliable Cowslip orchid, more Purple enamel orchids, a patch of Elegant donkey orchids and the Common mignonette orchid.
After 4pm, so time to make tracks home. At least 27 orchid species found with a hybrid or 2 thrown in. One last picture to post of a herd of Zebras coz I like it. No other reason!!
After an early breakfast we head out to our first location to continue our orchid hunt. Some of the first orchids found are still covered in dew, which exposes the cobwebs as well.
Well, I glad we persevered at this location given we found nothing in the first 5 minutes. The hybrid found was our first with a Dragon orchid and the numbers of white spiders was amazing.
However, we must keep moving but we only make it some way up the SouthCoast Highway before pulling into Jacup Highway Park, a rest stop near to the Fitzgerald River crossing. Seems a bit overrun with weeds, but we make the effort and are rewarded big time.
JACUP HIGHWAY PARK
After some amazing finds, we jump back into the Triton and head east. We decide to check out another new location and pull over at Koornong Nature Reserve. Some of our finds may be outside the Nature Reserve boundary as the scrubland extends further along the roadside than we were originally aware of.
Koornong Nature Reserve
Four species found, so not too bad a spot. Worthy of a re-visit another time. Next stop is further along the highway. Here we pull into an old bitumen dump and venture into the surrounding scrub. Orchids found 🙂
East Naernup Nature Reserve
It is now way past lunch time, so we head to Munglinup Roadhouse for their amazing burger. Near the roadhouse I find a nice spider orchid and take a photo, which ends up being the last taken for the day.
Our 2021 orchid hunting road trip has come to an end as we head home from Munglinup. As usual it has been amazing to find so many beautiful orchids in the wonderful West Australian bush and woodlands. Many old favourites found as well as some new species, which is always very exciting. Quite a few hybrids found this time as well as a few lutea or polychromic variants.
After a cool night, instead of packing up camp straight after breakfast, we go exploring the reserve, whilst the camper dries out. I had seen lots of orchids on my quick scout yesterday and now looked forward to having the time to explore with Debbie.
CHIRELILLUP NATURE RESERVE
As per last night the very first orchid found is the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata). Also commonly known as the Fringed Mantis orchid.
Then we stumble across a newly named orchid. The Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) was named in 2021 from specimens collected in 2005, west of Brookton. It is distinguished from P. sargentii by the shape and hairiness of the horn-like structures of the labellum.
Then an old favourite appears just asking us to take a photo. The Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) comes in varied shades of yellow. Then the reddish markings can be bold or pale and be dots or lines and everything in between.
Another yellow orchid is then spotted. Donkey orchids are another orchid that can be difficult to identify, as they are all so similar in appearance and overlap in their recorded locations. For this reason I will not attempt to name the ones found here.
Well I find donkey orchids hard to identify, now I need to try and identify spider orchids from the filamentosa complex. I believe some to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) whilst others may be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as both are recorded as being located in the Shire of Gnowangerup, and the features seem to match the reference books
An exciting find was the Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) which is found between Mullewa and Raventhorpe. The long tapers to the sepals distinguish it from other related orchids.
A common inland orchid is the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) however only a few were found at this location. Also found was the ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), again not in great numbers though.
We ran into some fellow orchid enthusiasts, Martina & Rick, who amazingly follow this blog via Facebook. They shared with us an app on their phone they use to record locations of interest. It also has the ability to overlay geology maps, that show different geology types, which they feel assists them in locating different orchid habitats. I have installed the Australian geology travel maps app and now regularly use it on our excursions.
The camper has now dried out sufficiently so we pack up camp and head off. We detour into Gnowangerup before heading east again. This time we venture into a new location which is not too great a detour off the main track. However we did have to take the Triton and camper through a bit of water to get back to the main Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. The water was in the middle of farmland, not the Nature Reserve though.
TOOMPUP NATURE RESERVE
Being a new location, we are excited to see what is found in Toompup Nature Reserve. We pull into an off road parking spot and immediately find some Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which is also referred to as Western mantis orchid. The highly upturned lateral sepals are one of its distinguishing features.
Some small frog greenhoods are located next, however the photos we took are not clear enough to discern the species conclusively. I though, will name them the Little frog greenhood (Pterostylis occulta) due to the sharp of the horn-like structures on the labellum. Please correct me if you think I have erred in this ID.
Some yellow catches our eye. The faithful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)is found. They certainly brighten up the dull West Australian bush.
Vying for having the most yellow in the bush are the donkey orchids, which are also found en masse. To make life difficult three species are recorded as being found in the Shire of Gnowangerup. I will take a guess that some are the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) and some other ones are the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia). Florabase mentions D. brachyscapa whilst Atlas of Living Australia lists D. brachyscapa and D. porrifolia as being found in this Nature Reserve.
Well we did find some orchids as a single specimen. A flowering Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) , a budding Purple enamel orchid (Elythranthera brunonis) and a spent Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) were some such finds. Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) and Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) were found in low numbers.
OK so we find so many different coloured spider orchids from the filamentosa complex that being certain of their identification is proving difficult.
So, I believe most to be the Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) as they are a common orchid that occurs in variable colours of white, cream, yellow, red and pink. However, the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) is also a possibility given it occurs in various colours, though it is not currently recorded as occurring in the Gnowangerup LGA.
Some spiders I cannot name are shown opposite. Either the calli are not broad, the colouring seems different, or the size of the flower and labellum don’t fit in with the Joseph’s species. Any help with an ID would be appreciated.
Then to add to the confusion with identification, some hybrids are found together with a lutea or hypochromic specimen.
Parents could be the Purple-veined spider orchid and either Joseph’s or Chameleon spider orchids as both are recorded hybrids.
The lutea or hypochromic specimen appears to be a Joseph’s spider orchid due to the broad calli on the labellum.
Also found were some larger white spider orchids. Now 2 sub-species of C. longicauda are recorded as being found nearby to this location. However, I believe the one I located to be the Stark white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) due to the broad labellum with long fringe segments.
As with the smaller spider orchids, we also came across a couple that did not appear usual. They could just be variants, given the C. longicauda has 4 or more rows of calli. However, the colouring is not stark white either so if you can help with ID, again that would be appreciated.
Finally, time to move on towards Ongerup where we plan to grab a cuppa at the Malleefowl Centre. We came across some water covering the road, so I jumped out and walked through to test the depth. All good, so Deb pushes through and we arrive at the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre.
After another amazing cuppa and icecream we make tracks east towards Jerramungup. However along the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road we pull over at a patch of green on the map. It turns out to be Warperup East Nature Reserve. So we jump out the Triton and go exploring this new location.
WARPERUP EAST NATURE RESERVE
First up we find the Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata), which has now been found at all 3 locations visited so far today.
Next up find some orchids of the Pterostylis genus. Most are way past their best, but I took photos just to record they are found at this location. Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa). These orchids all start flowering much earlier in the season.
Other green orchids are found but these belong to the Caladenia genus. First up we find the Small mantis orchid(Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima), however later on larger flowers are found with longer fringe segments. These could be the Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata) which occurs as far east as Jerramungup according to my references. The Small mantis orchid is stated as being located as far west as Jerramungup and as we are only 22kms west of Jerramungup both of these species could very well be located here.
Excitedly, we find a new species for the day. The Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) as the name suggests is only 50 – 150mm in height with flowers only 20 – 25mm across. For comparison the Stark white spider orchid is 300 – 600mm in height with flowers 80 -120mm across.
After blue comes the yellow. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is the next orchid to be spotted.
Another yellow orchid is also found. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is a common orchid found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. The lateral sepals are said to be crossed hanging, often reflexed, which my pictures confirm.
A special find for this location was the hybrid orchids found. Three in total were found and I believe they are all the named hybrid, Wheatbelt spider orchid (Caladenia x cala). This is a cross between a White spider orchid (C. longicauda) and a Green spider orchid (C. falcata). Hybrids of C. attingens X C. longicauda are also recorded though un-named.
We then move a little further east before pulling up at the location of Needilup. A quick exploration around then takes place with some familiar orchids being found.
Well, we only pull over on the side of the road and explore a few meters in. First orchid to catch our eyes was the donkey orchid. Then a lone 2 headed Jug orchid is found, plus lots of Green spider orchids. I feel these ones are definitely Green spiders and not Small mantises due to the size of the labellum.
No more stops before we reach our final destination for the day. Jerramungup is a welcome sight after a long day orchid hunting. We check into the Jerramungup Motor Hotel and enjoy a good pub feed and a comfortable bed. At least 17 different species found with a few hybrids thrown in. A very pleasing day !!!!
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.