Road Trip – Day 20 – Harrismith to Home

20/9/2017

After having breakfast we make our way north to Dudinin which was a quaint little town but with no real prospects for orchid hunting we move on further north to a place called Jitarning. We park next to the CBH wheat bins and head into the bush adjacent. The area proves to be thick with Donkey orchids with a small patch of Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) found.

The donkey orchids appear to be Yellow granite donkey orchids (Diuris hazeliae) as they are larger and brighter yellow than the ones found in Harrismith.

So many donkey orchids but we need to move on. Well not to far as we cross the Williams-Kondinin Road and visit the bush the other side. The only orchid found over this side was the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). On walking back to the Triton we discover the area we had been exploring was in fact the Jitarning Nature Reserve.

Next stop is the North Jitarning Nature Reserve a few kilometres north on the western side of the road. After parking the Triton we make our way west into the bush and our first find is the ever faithful Purple enamel orchid (Elythanthera brunonis). In fact they were everywhere in this reserve.

Further hunting and we found some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) growing underneath some bushes.

Then even further hidden under bushes Deb spies a bird orchid. Further specimens found, which all appear to be Dwarf bird orchids (Pterosylis sp. ‘dwarf’) as they are found between Eurardy Station and Peak Charles during August and September. We first found this orchid back in August 2016 near Corrigin.

Further Fringe mantis orchids are found as are more Donkey orchids.

We were also lucky enough to find a spider orchid, which I am naming, Red thread spider orchid (Caladenia erythronema) as they flower August to early October in locations between Nyabing and Mukinbudin.

We then make tracks for Kulin, to fuel up, then head off on the Tin Horse Hwy. After checking out some of the great Tin horses we make our way to Buckley’s Breakaway for lunch.

On the walk from the car park / picnic area we find some Donkey orchids. Nothing else found on the walk around the breakaway, however it was an impressive sight.

We now head further east, till we again reach Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve. At the northern end of the reserve, whilst earlier on the trip we were at the southern end. We find what we hoped was the road south, which dissects the reserve, and travel along slowly with heads out the windows looking for orchids. They proved more elusive than before but we did find our first ones. A finished Jug orchid then some Frog greenhoods.

It was more than a half hour later, before any more orchids were found. Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) were a surprise find.

Further south we come across some spider orchids. From their appearance I will name these Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) due to the yellowish colouring, dark brownish tail filaments and backswept slightly elevated petals.

A solitary Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) and Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) were found a little further down the track, however as time was slipping away and we had previously visited the south of the Dragon Rocks N. R., we headed straight for our last stop of the day, being the Rock View Nature Reserve.

It is now past 5.30pm when we arrive at Rock View N. R. so we quickly have a look around. First orchid I find is the Midget greenhood, whilst Debbie finds more spider orchids.

From the appearance I believe these to be further Chameleon spider orchids.

Due to the inclement weather we did not wish to set up camp, however as we were unable to find overnight accommodation, this stop proved to be the final stop of our  2017 Road Trip.

11 orchid species found on the final day.

Road Trip 2017 – Delay

31/8/2017

We had planned to leave tonight and camp up at Mt Madden, however as I drove the Triton home from work the ENGINE light remained on, then as the sun set we noticed the headlights were not working. Called Dave our mechanic, who came around and after 2hrs he had replaced our globes, ballasts and exchange. So now we have lights and the ENGINE light is no longer on. We slowly pack the Triton and camper trailer and then go to bed with plans to leave early in the morning.

1/9/2017

Woke up around 5am, showered, last minute packing and then off to Puma to fill up the Triton. Around 6am we are finally on our way. First stop is the Ravensthorpe lookout which was the very first place ever that we found Jug orchids. Guess what is the first orchid found is ? …. Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), what a great coincidence. As towing our camper at slow speed up a gravel hill is proving a challenge, we drive to the top and slowly make our way down. 2nd orchid found is Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta). A few scattered plants only, then a great group is found by Deb at the side of the road.

Nothing further found, other than more Jugs and Tiny Blues, so we make our way back to the track on level ground and closer to the Hwy we find some more Pterostylis orchids. We have now added another location for the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). Also found were some good old Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata). Next stop is Ravensthorpe for a toilet break.

Lake King Nature Reserve on the Old Newdegate Rd is checked out with only Western tiny blue orchids found. Further along the road at the Dunn Rock Nature Reserve we find a spent Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii) and a yet to flower Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans).

North of Newdegate we pull into a gravel pit for lunch, which is in the Rockview Nature Reserve. Here we find another Jug orchid. Our planned destination of Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve is reached just after 1pm and our first find is the little Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata). Further down the track our first glimpse of yellow delivers us our first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). Eye catching as usual.

 

We venture deeper into the bush and another colour appears. Pink. The first of many Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is found and nearby is the first spider orchid of the day. These pretty orchids are found from Kalbarrie to Israelite Bay and flower late June to September. Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) would appear to be the species found. Another yellow orchid is found. Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’) seems to be the one due to location.

 

 

Another spider orchid is found with much darker red tips to petals and sepals plus a larger labellum as well. Location and these colourings lead me to name it Ballerina spider orchid (Caladenia melanema). Found in the Pingaring – Lake Grace area (30kms away),  flowering August to mid September. We make it to Dragon Rocks themselves and growing on the granite are some Little laughing leek orchids (Prasophyllum gracile). Other spider, donkey, candy and sugar orchids are found, but as it is nearly 3pm we make tracks back to Newdegate to travel westwards.

Quick stop made at South Buniche Nature Reserve where we find some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) and more Jug and Sugar orchids. Then onto Lake Grace lookout, a favourite location of ours, that has yet again produced results. First up is the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia  dimidia). Also found nearby was another Common spider orchid.

Then a Sugar orchid is found under the scrub. Another spider orchid is found, this time a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) and a donkey orchid – possible a further Western wheatbelt donkey orchid. Jug orchids also found however as it is now getting dark and we plan to stay overnight in Wagin, we make tracks.

Overnight in Wagin at the local motel, very pricey for such a basic room, but as we ran out of daylight and with possible rain overnight, it seemed the easier option. Pizza enjoyed for dinner and time for sleep after a long first day. 16 orchids ticked off the list.

 

Gibson to Myrup

19/8/2017  On a tip from our friend Deb Witt we are heading north of Gibson to check out what lies within 50km of home.  However first we have our standard fully cooked breakfast at the Esperance Bird & Animal Park and then our obligatory check of Helms Arboretum.  Just past the large green log sign at the entrance we find some Esperance King spider orchids (Caladenia decora) of various colours.

We also checked out our Curly Locks but it still has a way to go before flowering. Fingers crossed it is still there when we return from our September holidays.

Turning east from the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy we park opposite a patch of scrub with a small lake. Just off the road where we parked Deb spots the first orchid of the day. Donkey orchids are found everywhere on the North roadside verge. Unable to verify exact species as the location does not match any in the books. Possible two different types found as one is duller yellow with hanging sepals and the other is brighter yellow with re-curved and crossed sepals.

We cross the road to the lake side and start looking around when Deb calls me over as she has found a Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). This distraction nearly had me  walking into a huge Golden orb spider (Nephila edulis). The poor old Hare orchid was well and truly finished for the season.

More searching and we turn up more Donkey orchids and the first Red beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) sprouting from the many leaves spotted. In fact there were so many Red beak and Hare orchid leaves around you sometimes could not help stepping on them.

The first Pterostylis orchids of the day were also found. Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Jug orchid , plus of course some more Donkey orchids.

Looking under a tallish shrub I notice a patch of Banded greenhoods so make my way under to get a photo. Telling Deb of my find I glance down and there is this very small white coloured orchid. It happened to be a small Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) which was partially opened. I grabbed some photos and then moved over to take some Banded greenhood photos whilst Deb took some of the Sugar orchid. This little orchid actually fully opened over a period of a few minutes so my next shots were of it fully open.

Pic below is of the Banded Greenwood I mentioned above that lead me to the sugar orchid.

We then made our way back to the Triton and moved further West and turned North along the railway line. We parked up and had a bite to eat before venturing out for another hunt. Deb spied another Sugar orchid and I took a photo of the habitat it was found in and what we get up to taking these photos.

Another Red beak sprouting, lone Snail orchid and Dancing spider (Caladenia discoidea) are found in this area, before we head over the railway line.

Immediately we find what we thought was another sugar orchid, however on returning home and checking the photos on our computer we notice it is in fact a Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta). These are found August to early October from Dumbleyung to Mount Ragged. We now laugh that we were so blinded to the fact they were two very different orchids, just both so small, so just appeared to be variants in colour only.

This side of the railway line proved very fruitful with many orchids found. Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi), more Western tiny blue orchids, more Redbeaks emerging,  further Dancing orchids and even more Donkey orchids.

Time to head south so we make tracks west until a road heading south is found. At a place where the road had been straightened we take the old track and stop for lunch. Deb spies two Dancing spider orchids and finally a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) fully opened.  I locate some more Donkey orchids then on the other side of this small triangular piece of bush I find some beautiful Esperance king spider orchids. More Donkey orchids found then onward further south.

We stop as the track turns east to a farmers paddock and check around as we can see more Donkey orchids from the Triton. After looking around only Donkeys found here.

The track itself does head straight ahead it just reduces in size and standard. Very weedy now so we cross over the creek at a granite ford. A little further along a small patch opens up to the right, so we decide to check it out.  A little patch of yellow catches Deb’s eye and she calls me over as she has found a season first Common bee orchid (Diuris decrementa) which flowers from August to November and is found from North of Perth to East of Esperance.

We finally make it back to the road and head south stopping a few more times but only finding a single Cowslip orchid.

At the intersection we make a final stop and cross the road to have on more search for anything. Deb calls me over as she finds some Esperance King spider orchids. Now the word some is a little bit understated … There are so many it is impossible to count them.

Also found in numerous clusters were Wispy spider orchids. Unsure of the exact type though.

Some single specimens were also found but I will not attempt to name the exact types of these either.

This final location ended an awesome day with new finds and so many orchids in one place… Nature is grand alright !!!

Hood of Snails

23/7/2017

Back to Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) to see what’s now flowering. First up we locate the one and only Southern curly-locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) and it has just sprouted so hopefully it will be in flower before our September holidays.

We then made our way to Plot 8 where we find the beginning of the snail orchid eruption, which we have witnessed in previous years. First we find Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’).  

Also found two other snail orchid species. Unsure of the classification for both with one being taller, with 3 stem leaves but a lack of hairs on the stem  and the other being quite small stature with 2 stem leaves and a rosette of crinkled edged leaves.

Also found were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata)   with many more finished for the season.

Finally we head down to the western edge of the Arboretum and check out under the pine trees. Some little microtis type leaves with sprouts found and many pyrorchis leaves, some were very large. Nothing else found so we have some afternoon tea and head home.

Coolinup calling – Pt 2

16/7/2017

We move to a different location on the other side of Coolinup Road and have a bite to eat for lunch. Whilst eating and having a cuppa after taking a selfie on a mound of gravel, we notice some snail and greenhood orchids. On closer inspection they are Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva). Then right next to the Triton Deb spies another Spider orchid which appears to be a Western Wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) as the calli on the labellum have red colouring to them. This is promising!!!!

On the walk around we locate more snails, spiders and greenhoods. I even came across a dodgy looking hare orchid.

We then move onto the small granite rock area on Coolinup Road. (Mud Map SE 38) We again had to bush bash our way in as the recent rain had created a large puddle over our access. Once through Deb finds some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) in flower under the bushes so we do the best we can to get some photos. Only 1 OK one though taken.

The we head home via one more stop. The granite rock at the corner of Le Grande Road and Merivale Road. The east side track was taken up to an abandoned picnic area. Here I find a solitary snail orchid well past its prime.

We then venture up the incline and find many many Cyrtostylis leaves,  a few Pyrorchis leaves and groups of Caladenia leaves. Finally find some Mosquito orchids in flower and one Red Beak orchid budding up.

The wind is blowing a gale and it is freezing with light fading fast so we make tracks back to the Triton and head back down the track to Merivale Road. One lone Spider orchid I spy so jump out for some quick photos as the rain starts. Great timing to finish the day.

Final orchid of the day but today confirms the time of the SPIDERS has arrived

Long weekend of looking !!

June long weekend 3 – 5

After a long week of work we pack up the camper trailer and head out for Stokes Inlet camping ground in the Stokes National Park. Unfortunately we arrive to a locked gate due to prescribed burning. Choices – Munglinup Beach camping, Parking up for the night as Stokes NP may re-open Saturday, Fanny’s Cove Beach camping or return home to Esperance. After pondering these options and driving up and down the Hwy we finally return home with the plan to head out to Thomas River Camping ground first thing Saturday morning.

SUNRISE

We are greeted with a cold morning at 6am but also a beautiful sunrise as we head out to Cape Arid National Park and the Thomas River Camp-ground, via dropping in to visit Tim and Tian at the farm. Tian provides us with a cuppa and toast which was awesome.

At Thomas River we decided for the first time ever to camp in the top camp-ground and chose bay 11, which is a short walk to the loo. After setting up the camper and having some lunch we make our way to Len Otte Nature Trail to try our luck. It was a great afternoon for a walk but not very fruitful. Found Banded Greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) in their usual spot and leaves for yet to flower orchids but nothing else.

Hang on Deb found a very small almost finished White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) on the way back to the car park.. Well done Deb.

On Sunday we made our way down the Tagon Beach for a fish. Whilst Deb was fishing I scampered over the rocks looking for orchids. I found many bunny orchid leaves and leaves for other orchids but nothing in flower. After a couple of hours and 3 fish later we made our way back to camp to have fresh fish for lunch. No further orchid hunting today.

Monday we ventured down to the beach for a look along the walk trail and found a good batch of leaves with buds in them at the bottom of the track from the camping ground to the beach. However that was about it for the morning walk, as it was time to pack up and head home. I took pics of a Banded greenhood, leaves of what I believe will be Redbeaks and a yet to flower Jug orchid in the bush around our camp site.

On arriving home and after unpacking Deb went off to work at 4pm, so I went for a look down along the Kepwari Walk-trail. Not much luck, only 2 Bunny orchid leaves found, but found the bush fire in Nov 2015 has cleared up the undergrowth so the ground under the burnt Banksia may be a fruitful site for orchids this year.

Banksia opens after bush fire
Banksia on the Kepwari Walk . Bushfire Nov 2015

Not much found over the 3 days but the weather was perfect …