Peak Charles National Park

 

 

13/07/2018

Packed up the camper and headed off up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy for a long overdue weekend camping trip. We chose Peak Charles National Park as we had not visited since 2015.  This years dry winter allows us to visit, as the roads are usually impassable if wet. Consequently we had never visited this early in the season before, so who knows what orchids may be in flower. Although this dry start will also impact the orchids themselves, so it is a two edged sword. Our first stop on the Hwy is Scaddan, where we find Diuris plants with leaves but no flowers as yet. So off we head further north, with next stop being Salmon Gums. 

We checked out our usual spot and was lucky enough to find some Midget greenhoods (Pterostylis mutica) which are found from Wongan Hills to the SA border flowering July to October. Fewer flowers than last years visit (15/07/2017) however still happy to find some.  Only other finds were spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis tepperi). 

We pulled into the travel stop in Salmon Gums and had our lunch, before heading off for Peak Charles. On the drive in just before the Lake King – Norseman Road intersection we checked out a granite rock location and found a lone Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) with an unusual light orangey-brown colouring. Nothing else found.

Dark banded greenhood
Unusual colouring

Upon arrival at the Peak Charles National Park camping ground we were amazed to find it empty, so we enjoyed setting up camp before heading out on a late afternoon check of the surroundings. We went to the place we had found orchids previously and after a lot of searching we finally found some in flower. Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) is a common inland orchid found from Kalbarri to Balladonia, flowering late June to September. Also know as Pterostylis setulosa and found in SA and NSW. An extremely variable species. We explored onto the granite but due to fading light no more sightings made. 

Back to camp for dinner, which happened to be lamb chops cooked on the little BBQ, which was a Christmas gift from Jace, Amber and Oliver. 

14/07/2018

We awoke to a beautiful sunny winters day and enjoyed a bacon and egg breakfast before heading off to explore further. Deb wanted to check out the snail orchids again to get some photos with the Olympus M5, so we headed back to the spot we found them yesterday afternoon.

We then ventured onto the granite rocks and climbed up looking for anything else that may be flowering. The old faithful Resurrection plant was flowering and more snail orchids were found, however they were very few and far between with so many rosettes having only very small buds. Late season it seems. 

What?, another Pterostylis but not a snail this time. I found a lone double headed Dark Banded greenhood.

Looking back towards Peak Charles itself, we decided to venture up a wooded slope which incorporated a run-off creek bed. It started out quite open and there were yellow daisies flowering however once the Sheaok trees started the daisies stopped. Deb then stumbles across a nice, small hood of snails which was exciting as the previous ones found were all very spaced apart. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids

We then pushed into the creek-bed which is strewn with boulders, logs and other debris and Deb yells in excitement. She has never seen so many Cyrtostylis leaves, however only a few were in bud and not yet fully blooming. Oh well we did say earlier, the season appears late at this location.

We spent the next 30 mins or so clambering up and over rocks, logs and between trees and bushes on a 30 degree hill slope in the vain hope of finding some in flower. Alas it was not meant to be ..Many Pterostylis rosettes were found as well.

Back to camp for a late lunch and we now had company as 3 sites had been occupied. Later that afternoon the wind picked up so we rested and watched 4WDs, motorbikes, buggies and quads arrive for what may turn into a rowdy night. However they all disappeared to another camping spot as they numbered too many for this location. Thankyou!!!! After some soup for dinner we climbed into the camper and played cards before crashing into bed. It was a wet n windy night so not a great sleep was had. 

15/07/2018

Woke up to blue skies but the wind was still gusty. Had eggs n bacon again then slowly packed up. The camper roof was damp so used our gas heater to assist in the drying. Finally got a move on just after 11am. We quickly checked some granite outcrops on the drive back to the HWY but nothing found. Pulled into the Salmon Gums Roadhouse and grabbed a coffee and a meat pie, before making a beeline for Eldred Road. Nothing found near the HWY so we moved to the spot East of the largest lake where we found many Dark banded greenhoods, mainly at he base  of the larger trees. 

Moving further south we next visit the Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve where Pterostylis again reign supreme. More Dark banded greenhoods found with the unusual colouring like back at Peak Charles N.P. Also found were some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii), which had formed their hood but had yet to open up the lateral sepals. Also found a lone flowering Midget greenhood. 

Final stop was at Truslove Townsite Nature Reserve where we looked for something other than a Pterostylis. Thank goodness we found them. Some donkey orchids were found with others yet to flower. I will name these as Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘Green Range’) which flower July to early September in a range from Denmark to Esperance. 

Green Range donkey orchid
So many yet to flower

We enjoyed our camping weekend exploring North of Esperance. Pterostylis reigned supreme but we did find our first Diuris species for the season. The number of rosettes and Cyrtostylis leaves found blew our minds. We must get back one day to see if they translate into flowers.

Boyatup Hill to Mt Ney

01/07/2018

First day of July, 2nd month of winter and it will be 21 degrees, so what better way to spend a fine, sunny, winters day than to go exploring for orchids. After a yummy Bacon n Eggs cooked breaky, we pack up some lunch, snacks and drinks together with cameras, mobile phones, Hema map and orchid books and head off on our adventure.

We make a beeline for Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40) with only one stop, a burnt out patch of roadside verge, where we struck out scoreless. Oh well Boyatup will not let us down, fingers crossed. On the track prior to the gravel pit I find the only orchid in flower. Lots of leaves yet to flower or spent bunny orchids were in abundance though. New find for the season a lone Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) which flowers May to August from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. A distinctive feature of this orchid is the flowering plants lack a rosette of leaves, which is unusual for Snail orchids.

Deb then heads off on foot along the track and finds our first Donkey orchid of the season. Using  Esperance Wildflowers as a guide I believe the orchid to be Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which is found Denmark to Esperance flowering from July to early September. Florabase also list Local Government Area (LGA) of Dundas which is both north and east of the Esperance LGA so extends the listed location, seemingly including my location of Boyatup. 

A little further along the track Deb also finds some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea). We need to lay on our bellies to get the photos as they are growing underneath a bush. Nothing more found so at the gravel pit Deb jumps back in the Triton and we make our way to the turn-around part of the track, where we grab a cuppa before heading further along the track ,both by foot, as it is rather overgrown and would scratch the Triton and be near impossible to find orchids looking out the windows. 

In the area that we found many Mosquito orchids last year Deb is lucky enough to find a small group of Robust snail orchids. We did find Mosquito orchid leaves with a few mm of stem so a few weeks away yet. Also found leaves of Caladenia, Blue beards and Rattlebeaks, but no further orchids in flower. We make our way to the Triton and head off.

Using Google maps I had worked out a route to Mount Ney our next planned destination. We turned into a track we had previously been successful in finding orchids, which is in fact a named road. Bebenorin Road runs from Fisheries Road to Muntz Road, however calling this overgrown and unused track a road, is stretching the definition of Road. Only found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) well passed their best.

At the junction of Shao Lu Road we park up and enjoy our hot Pea n Ham soup, whilst checking the surrounding scrub for orchids. Nothing found flowering which seems to be the narrative of the day. The overgrown track though has now improved to be a gravel road so onwards to Muntz Nature Reserve. Well the track into the gravel pit was very washed out so we turned around and no luck with orchids here either.

We move on down Muntz Road to Howick Road and travel westwards to Mount Ney Nature Reserve. This time we decided to take the track around to the West side of the park for the track into the rock. This is another overgrown track, with some deep wheel ruts. It actually extended onto the lower parts of the rock itself. We did not venture onto the rock in the Triton, as the environment of granite rocks is so delicate, so we reversed back to a place we could turn back and parked up. From here we headed onto the rock by foot and enjoyed our time exploring. 

 

We found so many Diuris leaves, yet to flower which ended the day with a feeling of frustration. It has been dry out this way, so the season is much later than last year. During winter last year we found many more orchid varieties in the locations visited today. Oh well that is nature for you. Unpredictable. 

West of Esperance

17/06/2018

Headed straight out to Munglinup Beach camping area (Mud Map SE 33) to see if we could find some shell orchids as we did last season. There were so many rosettes however after searching high and low we only found one that was close to opening. We move location to the other area and it looked like we would be unsuccessful again with flowers yet to open found. Whilst taking photos of these I moved a branch to get a better shot and guess what? I found one opened. Yeah so happy.

Appears to be Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) which are found from Binningup to Esperance flowering June to August. Quite content we now make tracks down to the Oldfield River for a spot of lunch. Nothing caught our eye on the slow drive in, so upon finishing lunch we made tracks for Skippy Rock. No orchids found here either !! The views over the beach though are magnificent.

Beach west of Skippy Rock
View from area orchids found prior season

Our last stop will be the main visitors area of Stokes National Park. We park up at the Day Use area and head up the steps that begin the Stokes Inlet Heritage Walk Trail. We only plan on walking half of it today as it is already after 3pm. Very small Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are spotted with many, many rosettes.

 

More prolific though were different types of fungi. 

As it is now past 4.30pm we make a move for home with a detour to the camping ground. Driving slowly around Deb yells with glee as she spots some large darker greenhoods. Out we jump to grab some photos in the dying daylight. As the lateral sepals have opened it appears these are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September in a range from Mullewa and Toolinna Cove. They are also found in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. 

Only the Pterostylis genus found today, however it was an awesome day out, getting some fresh air and sunshine. 

East of Esperance

16/06/2018

Today we head east along Fisheries Road to turn north at Coolinup Road for our first exploration out Condingup way for this season. Our first stop at the small granite outcrop on the side of the road proved flowerless, however spent bunny orchids and leaves of orchids yet to flower were found. Maybe next visit will prove more successful. Next we check out the track  (Mud Map SE 38) however the verges had recently been slashed so nothing found. We move on further north to a gravel pit to have a bite of lunch whilst walking around. Again no surprises found. Well onwards to a location that proved successful last season to see if anything can be found. 

Thank goodness we find something in flower. Albeit a little past their prime. A snail orchid, species unknown and a Hare orchid seem to be all we can find so I take a photo just to show we actually found something. 

However, ever the optimists, we keep looking and woo hoo a new species for the season is found. Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium), which flowers June to August in a range from Eneabba to Mt Ragged. 

Reinvigorated we continue our search. Next up we find some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata)

Then we find another leek orchid, Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum sp. ‘early’) which flowers April to June in a range from Bunbury to Israelite Bay. As the name suggests these flower earlier than the related Autumn leek orchid and also do not have the red colouring. 

Its now after 3pm so we make tracks back to the Triton, however on our way back we find some more Banded greenhoods so just had to get some more shots.

We pull into our abandoned picnic area on Merivale Road, grab a piece of fruit and go exploring.  Nothing found until we get onto the granite outcrop to the west of the picnic site. Deb finds a small bunny orchid. Scattered specimens found which appear to be the Granite bunny orchid (Eriochilus pulchellus) as these flower April to May in a range from the Darling Range to Balladonia in 3 separate areas. Esperance to Balladonia being one of these specific locations. 

It is now after 4.30pm so we make tracks back to the Triton. Deb finds a snail orchid so we attempt to get some shots in the fading light. Unable to distinguish the species of this orchid due to lack of rosette, 3 stems leaves and thin appearance. 

4 names species found so proved quite a successful day out. Tomorrow we plan to head West to see what is flowering out that way.

Pterostylis return !!

9/6/2018

After another wonderful fully cooked breakfast, eaten for lunch this time, at the Esperance Bird & Animal Park, we head off to Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35) to see if anything other than bunny orchids has shown up.

Well we are pleased to find some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) flowering. These little beauties flower April to September in locations from Perth to Balladonia.

As we only have the afternoon to explore we jump back in the Triton and head north up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy to Fleming Grove Road where we take a left turn east to check out a previously successful location. We find evidence of bunny orchids and hare orchid leaves before stumbling across some more banded greenhoods sheltering under a bush. After a good 30mins or so we make tracks to the railway tracks for another explore. No luck here so onwards we go, further east, before turning south. 

We proved unsuccessful in finding any further orchids so have only added Pterostylis to our genera found this season.

Eriochilus, Leporella and Pterostylis, I wonder which genera will be next.

Last Hoorah of our Holidays

22/09/2017

As we came home early from our Road Trip we had to finish our holidays with a final orchid hunt. What better place to check out than Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE40) . Like Helms Arboretum, Boyatup never disappoints. Arriving at 10am we immediately go exploring for orchids. Our first orchid is the Purple enamel orchid ( Elythranthera brunonis).  Closely followed by the small Diuris orchid, from the Bee orchid complex. From the habitat found and the small stature of the plants they appear to be the Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa).

In close proximity we come across a Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans), Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), more Purple enamel orchids and Common bee orchids.

Then prior to hopping back in the Triton we find some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) and what appears to be an Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) nearing the end of it’s season.

 We now pass through the gravel pit and head up the track to a spot that allows us to turn around, where we get out have morning tea, then head on up the overgrown track on foot,  towards the granite outcrop. Along this overgrown track we find some Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea), more Cowslip orchids and Esperance king spider orchids, plus some of the small, Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana).

As mentioned Boyatup is a great location and as proof we have already found 8 varieties in the first half hour of looking. What will a few hours bring? We can’t wait to find out.

Next orchid found was a Pointing spider orchid (Caladenia exstans) which is only found between Esperance and Israelite Bay from September to early November.

More yellow spied. Cowslips and Lemon-scented sun orchids found.

Then to our surprise we find a Beautiful donkey orchid (Diuris pulchella), very near it’s season end, but still showing off it’s mauve colouring.

The further along we walk the more we find. More Zebra, Cowslip, Pink Candy, Pointing spider and Beautiful donkey orchids, then something new for the day. We break out of the overgrown track onto an open, damp, low granite rock space about the size of a soccer pitch and find a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata ), but exact identification is uncertain as 3 different species can be found in this location.

Next orchids found were a small grouping of a Caladenia hybrid. One parent is the Cowslip orchid but deciding the other was proving difficult. The other parent does not appear to be the usual Pink fairy orchids as the dorsal sepal hangs forward over the column, which is a feature of the Pink fans.  Reviewing the site esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com.au  and the Spider Orchids EBook 2018 it appears the other parent to be the Little pink fan orchid.  I would never have picked this due to the recorded location being  West of Bremer Bay. So in my research the EBook mentions a hybrid between these two orchids being photographed in Esperance and the Esperance wildflowers blog records finding the Little pink fan orchid within his 160km radius of Esperance. So I am recording these orchids as (Caladenia flava x Caladenia nana) an unnamed hybrid.

 Before leaving this open area we find our smallest orchid of the day. A Laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum macrostachyum) which is found September through January in a range from Dongara to Cape le Grand. We are 50km East of this range however the flowers appear wider spaced, lateral sepals are shorter and dorsal sepal is wider, than the related Little laughing leek orchid, so I am happy with my classification.

The track becomes over grown again and we find a lone spider orchid. Appears to be a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) although this is far from certain

Then we come to the low prickly scrub which leads up to the Granite outcrop. Close to the base of the rock is a thick woodland but for now we are searching in thigh high bushes. Amazingly we find a Rattle Beak (Lyperanthus serratus) growing under one of the bushes bordering the track. Further along we find more Rattle beaks pushing through the prickly shrubs.

We don’t have time or inclination to bush bash to the granite rock so after a few more minutes finding further Purple enamel, Pointing spider, Esperance king spider and Zebra orchids we back track to the Triton and move on to another location closer to home, only just.

On a track named Bebenorin Rd we first come across what appeared to be another Esperance king spider orchid, but on closer inspection I believe it to be a Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia herberleana) due to the narrow clubbing of the lateral sepals. These flower September and October in a range from Augusta to Cape Arid which causes them to grow in the same area and at a similar time to the Esperance king spider orchid which makes it difficult to distinguish between them.

Close by we find some Dancing spider orchids (Caladenia discoidea) and more Cowslip orchids, this time with longer, thinner lateral sepals.

Another first for the day is the Common mignonette orchid (Microtis media) which flowers September through January and ranges from Shark Bay to Eyre, one of the largest ranges of the orchid family in WA.

Getting hungry so we head off to Thomas River for lunch, but not before taking a few more pics.

Just at the entrance to the National Park we find some more Rattle beaks, Lemon-scented sun orchids, Purple enamel orchids and Bee orchids, however only got good pics of the Rattle beaks.

We decide to have lunch at the top campground as they have undercover seating. First though we check out the beach and take a walk up the trail for a bit, looking for the patch of leaves we found months earlier. Nothing doing, so we head back to have lunch. On the track in, Deb spies some blue and we are lucky enough to find a solitary Coastal sun orchid (Thelymitra granitora) with a Lemon-scented sun orchid neighbour.

We park the Triton in one of the camping bays and quickly look around, finding  a Pointing spider orchid and a King spider orchid, species unknown due to it’s petals and lateral sepals being nibbled off.

After lunch we make our way to the Len Otte nature trail. At the base of the first rise we find a small Laughing leek orchid and further up a some Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia) and  Common bee orchids.

Moving through a wooded part of the trail we find some Western wispy spider orchids, before coming out onto the next clearing. Here we get the fright of our life, with a big, black, curled up snake hiding in the low bushes. We keep to the track from now on, no bush bashing, so to speak.

Now to add to our day the heavens open up and it starts to rain. We try to hurry back but the I see another Blue sun orchid, which appears to be another Coastal sun orchid. Then just as the rain and wind picks up we find some Rabbit orchids (Leptoceras menziesii) in a new location for this nature trail. Photos with it raining and your lenses fogging up, is not an easy task.

Nearby Deb finds a lone Snail orchid. From location and the length of the lateral sepals I am naming it Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘ Ravensthorpe’), which is found from Stirling Ranges to Esperance, flowering August and September.

Still getting wet, but unperturbed, we still search whilst walking quickly back and find some more spider orchids and cowslip orchids.  No good photos though, due to rain and fogging lenses, so will not post them. Well this was quite a day of orchid hunting, as our holidays draw to an end. However we did finish on a high – 22 species found in just over 4hours of searching.

Road Trip 2017 – Listing of Orchids found

Over our 20 day road trip we were lucky enough to find more than 44 different orchids. I have listed them below with almost all pictured and sorted firstly into their Genus then the first date found.

Pterostylis

Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) 01/09/2017

Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) 01/09/2017

Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) 01/09/2017

Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii) 01/09/2017

Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) 01/09/2017

Hairy stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) 02/09/2017

Dwarf bird orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘dwarf’) 20/09/2017

Cyanicula

Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) 01/09/2017

Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) 05/09/2017

Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) 18/09/2017

Pyrorchis

Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) 01/09/2017

Ericksonella

Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata)

Diuris

Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) 01/09/2017

Mottled donkey orchid (Diuris suffusa) 03/09/2017

Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) 05/09/2017

Pale donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘mid-north’) 15/09/2017

Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta) 16/09/2017

Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) 16/09/2017

Common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa) 17/09/2017

Prasophyllum

Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) 01/09/2017

Caladenia

Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) 01/09/2017

Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) 01/09/2017

Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) 01/09/2017

Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) 01/09/2017

Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) 01/09/2017

Ballerina spider orchid (Caladenia melanema) 01/09/2017

Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) 02/09/2017

Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) 02/09/2017

Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) 02/09/2017

Crimson spider orchid (Caladenia footeana) 02/09/2017

Chapman’s spider orchid (Caladenia chapmanii) 02/09/2017

Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis) 02/09/2017

Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) 02/09/2017

Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) 03/09/2017

Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) 03/09/2017

Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia) 19/09/2017

Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) 19/09/2017

Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) 19/09/2017

Red thread spider orchid (Caladenia erythronema) 20/09/2017

Pheladenia

Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) 02/09/2017

Thelymitra

Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) 02/09/2017

Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) 9/9/2017

Elythanthera

Purple enamel orchid (Elythanthera brunonis) 15/9/2017

Spiculaea

Elbow orchid (Spiculaea ciliata) 19/09/2017