Native Orchids of Western Australia

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.47.05 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.49.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.49.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.48.55 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.50.17 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.48.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.48.05 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.47.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.48.19 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.47.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.47.20 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.46.52 PM

Right off the front foot of our trip, Mike and I made a wager (honestly, though it’s very rare we are not in some form of a competition).  It was: Whomever could spot the most orchids would owe the other person $100.00.  Mike then stipulated that he would need a 10 point lead to keep things fair as he thought I might be difficult competition (and that he’d be hard pressed to get me out of the bush before he found his).  I accepted the challenge.

We couldn’t double up – and tracked our progress daily (Reminding each other constantly of how much the other needed to catch up – and shouting with extreme enthusiasm when one did find a new orchid).  Who would have thought this could be such a thrilling activity?

Mike was well and truly ahead of me by day three as he had stayed at the front of the orchid walk and counted every new species as one of his own (we saw 14 during 1.5 hours at Mount Trio on our second day).

The end score was: Mike – 22 species  &  Holly – 16 species

He beat me by a mile.  In the end it made our hiking and wandering very interesting and pushed us to take the time to find more plants.

What helped us was a book called “A Guide to Native Orchids of South Western Australia – Second Edition” by Bob Liddelow.  Mr. Liddelow details the GPS coordinates as well as shows small maps of prime locations to find orchids.  It was with his help that we were able to find large concentrations of orchids throughout the many regions that we came across, in fact we planned our travels around these locations.

Orchids flower here from July – October so there is a large period of time you’re bound to spot something.  We were both very happy with the information that Mr. Liddelow shared, his gifting of this sometimes confidential information has helped us both stoop down low and really look for the treasures that the forest floor might otherwise be hiding from us.

Here are a few of the orchids we found during the trip:

  1. Purple Pansy Orchid
  2. Sugar Orchid
  3. Purple Enamel Orchid
  4. Sugar Orchid
  5. Lemon Scented Sun Orchid
  6. Hare Orchid
  7. Little Laughing Leek Orchid
  8. Greenhood Orchid
  9. Jug Orchid
  10. Red Beaks
  11. Silky Blue Orchid
  12. Crab Lipped Spider Orchid
  13. Dancing Spider Orchid
  14. Little Pink Fairy Orchid
  15. Cowslip Orchid
  16. Common Dragon Orchid (this one attracts a male wasp with pheromones to pollinate it)
  17. Zebra Orchid
  18. Dwarf Spider Orchid
  19. Fringed Mantis Orchid

Just a note if you’re curious about the camera set up I’ve used for these images.  They are all shot with the Canon 5D Mark III and a 100mm 2.8 Macro lens. (All of the images on this blog from Sept 2014 onward are taken with this gear.  No special lighting or flash were used, simply harnessed the natural light available at the time.

Do you shoot macro?  I’m curious to learn more about the different techniques… do you have a favourite subject that you like to photograph?

Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.51.24 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.43.21 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.36.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.36.55 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.35.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.37.16 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.37.23 PM

This is the stunning entrance to the Mount Trio campsite. Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.38.29 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.38.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.36.23 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.38.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.40.10 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.42.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.44.47 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.49.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.53.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.54.37 PM

We’ve just returned from our camping trip in the Stirling Ranges here in Western Australia.  We packed our tent, sleeping bags and plenty of hearty carb loaded fuel food – pancakes, hamburgers, sausages, scrambled eggs, fresh fruits…and drove the 4 hours South toward the rugged, and colourful landscape.

Mount Trio is a camp site that is situated right in the heart of the Stirling Ranges and is managed by a lovely couple named John and Margot.

Our first evening was spent around a campfire getting to know our fellow campers.  All 65+ years old whom were from the Eastern States here either for hiking or the wildflowers.  They came in two distinct groups that did not mingle with one another. We got along very well with the hiking crew, chatting for many hours and turning ourselves from front to back to warm our extremities from the 3 degree weather.  It was like the Church Group vs The Hipster Green’s Group.  

We chose the original hipsters.

The first night I froze… I basically did not sleep, and woke Mike with my groaning and commiserating commentary.  Thankfully we were able to sort ourselves out for the rest of the trip and I slept snug as a bug.  I say with regret that I am a stubborn fool, and had previously refused to bring an extra blanket on account it would make for too much more “stuff”.

We ended up buying another blanket.

We woke each morning first to the sounds of magpies, then kookaburras and dozens of other lovely sing song noises.

There are plenty of native orchids in full bloom at the moment and so to make the most of our time we paid to join a wild flower tour on our second day – which was well worth it as John pointed out around 15 species nearby.

After our wildflower tour, Mike and I did some driving in the park and scouted for any signs of unusual flowers.  We found a few and then decided to hike 1.3km straight up hill on a marked trail, without any water.  It was gruelling and although it does not sound that far, it was literally vertical the entire hike.  Our knees were flaming by the end but the view was well worth the strained muscles.  Not only was the view spectacular… there were some interesting sights along the way.  Mike spotted some lizards up on the mountain top, we passed a cave, and there were several orchids growing along the trail.  What really captured my attention was the prolific number of birds we saw and heard.  They were loving wildflower season too.

Not pictured but sighted:

  • Endangered Carnaby Cockatoo
  • Echidna
  • Bobtail
  • Kangaroo
  • Emu
  • Bandicoot
  • Red Capped Parrots
  • Kookaburras
  • The largest dugite snake known to man

I’ll write some more about the next bit of the trip tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

Holly (and Mike)

Sun Orchids & Black Cockatoo

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.57 PM

This is a Scented Sun Orchid.  We found many in the woods today.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.11.53 PM I’m not really sure how to identify this species… no idea what it is.  Do you know?

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 5.12.44 PM

Going through all my photos and came across this one… From a trip we had last year down south in Margaret River.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.12.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.13.11 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.13.35 PM

This is a “Bee fly” which I actually mistook for a hummingbird at first!  Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.13.52 PM

This is Mike’s photo!  I just love the colours and the cool calming effect it gives.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.04 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.19 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.30 PM The shaded side of the road (left) was where we found the large number of sun orchids.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.14.43 PM  Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.12 PM This little one is the “Shy Sun Orchid”  It was much smaller than the other specimen…but had a lovely pale pink hue.Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.21 PM

Horrors of all horror.  We saw this wasp find this massive (4 inch) spider in the bark of a tree.  It paralysed it, waited for it to fall down and then drug it by it’s face across many feet to it’s den (hopefully!).  I was horrified that a spider that big was just in the crack of the tree we were sitting next to.  One minute he was on top of his game, and the next….being drug to a horrible fate.Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.40 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.15.58 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 7.16.05 PM

This morning we got up really early, and drove into the Perth hills for a bit of a wander.  Mike suggested we try looking at the place we went to a few weeks ago to see if there were anymore orchids.  There were so many out today!  They were small dainty, large and vibrant.  Some were as tall as my waist…

Oddly they pop up in clusters at random, and then are sparse for miles.  They really are extraordinary.

Mike hands down took the best shot today, I really enjoyed watching him take images and helping search out some new flowers for him to take photos of.  It was so nice to see him getting excited and interested about the flowers too.

On the drive back we both exclaimed we weren’t ready to head to the city when we noticed a conservation sign.  It was for black cockatoo particularly.  We swiftly stopped in, and signed up for the next tour.  We found out quickly that this place only opens at random several times a year and we were lucky to have gotten in!  The birds…were beautiful.  They breed and release them in large numbers in the surrounding region.  It was a relief to see Carnaby, Red Tailed black cockatoo and white tails all being well looked after.

Unfortunately, but fortunately for us we were able to experience a few of the tame birds up close…they would fly down on us at random and perch on our shoulders awaiting an almond treat.  We were advised to take our earrings out, and take our rings off…as they can be very cheeky and will crush your jewellery rather easily.

Seeing the colours and their eyes up close was quite thrilling.

Such a good time.

Note – Today I started archiving some photos…and my computer said it needed to update my image library  of 130k images. I gasped in horror when I saw the figure.  In 2.5 years I’ve amassed a ridiculous number of photos.  Redonculous!


Just photos today.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.10 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.36.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.36.24 PM

This is my first ever spotting of a Granite Sun OrchidScreen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.34.39 PMThese were closed a few days ago…and then they majestically opened today.  Fringed Lilies.Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.36.17 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.36.06 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.46 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.40 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.32 PM

Also the first time I’ve ever seen an orange fly!Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.25 PM Not sure what I’m interpreting here…

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.17 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.35.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.34.53 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.34.11 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.34.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 7.33.55 PM

This thing is about 6 inches long, it landed on me (I freaked) and then it perched on this twig.