Hope

Clown Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com

Caladenia roei goes by a number of common names which are Clown Orchid, Ant Orchid, Man Orchid, and Jack-in-the-box Orchid. Narrogin, Western Australia.

 

If you just look at the media you’d think that there’s not a lot of hope for the world. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, there are bushfires raging on the west coast of America, eastern Australia was ravaged by bushfires earlier in the year, there’s a global recession – the list goes on and on. There seems very little hope left in the world. If you want to find some hope then you’re going to have to go looking for it.

 

Yoorn is the Nyoongar name for the bob tailed lizard (Tiliqua rugosa). Narrogin, Western Australia.

 

Every now and again I come across a place that gives me hope for the present and the future.  They always take the form of a scrap of land that somebody has decided to regenerate. I’ve written about a couple of these places before – Lake Seppings and Lake Claremont.Both of these are examples of urban regeneration based around a lake. This month I’ve been out in the Wheatbelt exploring a reserve east of Narrogin. It’s a bush block in the middle of farm land that is being allowed to regenerate. To say it’s off the beaten track is an understatement. When you get there there is no access to it, no paths, no signs other than one telling you that it is a regeneration project. As you you make your way through the scrub you begin to notice something quite remarkable – there’s no evidence of any human visitation. No litter, no vehicle tracks, no foot prints. Nature is being left to itself and it is a wonderful sight. It’s not in anyway shape or form picturesque – just dense scrub fringing a granite outcrop.It’s hard country to move in as the scrub and the rocky uneven terrain make the going quite difficult in places, and then when you hit the rock it is quite steep and exposed.

 

The overly friendly echidna (tachyglossus aculeatus). Narrogin, Western Australia.. Narrogin, Western Australia.

 

Straight off the the things that were most noticeable were in the larger gaps between the trees where the sun hit the ground were amazing profusions of wildflowers – everlastings, orchids, all sorts. Then I started to stay still and just tune into the environment. The bird song was really loud and was made up the calls from lots of different species. Moving slowly I saw lots of different insects – spiders webs, butterflies,  different types of beetles that I’d never seen before. There was a lot of evidence of digging on the ground. The small holes the size of a saucer and a couple of centimetres deep were signs that kangaroos were looking for moist roots and tubers. The larger holes had me puzzled until I found the culprit- these were made by echidnas looking for ants and termites. At one point I stopped to photograph some flowers and I was lying in the leaf litter to do so when I felt something touch my foot. Ever mindful of snakes I looked and found not a snake but an echidna. I was having a close encounter of the spiny kind. As I came to the rock the trees thinned out and there were bob tailed lizards basking in the sun. On the rock itself there were crested dragons (Ctenophorus cristatus), they are virtually impossible to photograph as they are so quick in dashing to the protection of an overhanging rock or crevice.

 

A pair of Australian Ground Shield Bugs meeting on a plant stem. Narrogin, Western Australia.

 

It would be tempting to over romanticise the place saying it was a return to the Garden of Eden or Paradise Regained. Looking at with a more down to each perspective it just illustrates how nature can recover if it is allowed to. There are no groups of volunteers here replanting and doing pest eradication as there was at Lakes Seppings and Claremont. It is just nature being allowed to do its thing and that is what gives me hope. So if you are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless with the current situation I can thoroughly recommend going to a nearby nature spot, or even your own garden, and thoroughly immersing yourself in it. Look up, look down, listen, even sniff. Just soak it all up and let it feed your soul.

 

Candy Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Candy Orchid, Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta. Narrogin, Western Australia.

And I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For*


Bamborn by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
I’d gone to Locke Nature Reserve near Busselton looking for common helmet and midge orchids, but they weren’t flowering. This Western Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria griseogularis) and its mate kept darting in and out of the bush as I walked along the track so I photographed them instead.

This nature photography lark is a lot harder than it looks. I follow a couple of YouTube channels from the UK that weekly show the host going out to some location to photograph and /or film a particular animal or plant. They always find it and always get   good images. My experience is a bit different to that. I find that you can go out with all the best intentions in the world,  but if nature isn’t playing ball then you don’t get anything. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve set out to look for the Cleopatra’s Needles Orchid (Thelymitra apiculata) driving 100’s of kilometres to find absolutely nothing. Take last weekend. We were down in the South West of Western Australia as my partner was again playing in a croquet tournament. So I’d researched what was about in terms of birds and orchids and set out to several locations with a specific list of what I wanted to photograph. The first stop was Malbup Creek Bird Hide where I wanted to see tawny frogmouths and white-bellied sea-eagles. Well I spent a nice morning at the hide without seeing them. I did get a nice shot of a shelduck and the local kangaroos were hamming it up for a photo.

 

Koorak by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Not the white-bellied sea-eagle I was looking for. Still he’s a very handsome Australian Shelduck.

 

Yongka by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
No tawny frogmouths to be seen let alone be photographed. The Western Grey Kangaroos were keen to oblige.
The next stop was Locke Nature Reserve looking for common helmet and midge orchids. Well after a couple of hours of scrabbling around in the undergrowth fighting off the unwanted attentions of the local mosquitoes I’d found lots of them, but none in flower. There were some Splendid Fairywrens in the nearby bushes but they really didn’t want their picture taken and kept dancing out of the way every time I got close. On the walk back to the car a couple of Western Yellow Robins flew slightly ahead of me. They would stop and perch periodically and I was lucky enough to grab a few frames.
My last spot was Westbay in Augusta looking for scented autumn leek orchids. Now I’d seen them before at this location and knew where to go. They weren’t there. Not a one was to be seen. But I did find some autumn leek orchids – close enough so I photographed them. Funnily enough the autumn leek orchid has a much more pleasant scent than the scented variety which has decidedly unpleasant pong.
Autumn Leek Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Autumn Leek Orchid, Prasophyllum parvifolium. Westbay, Augusta, Western Australia
So there you have it another rewarding trip. I may not have found what I was looking for but I found other things and really enjoyed my time in the bush and that is what it is all about.
* This weeks musical reference is of course U2’s song I Still Haven’t Found. My favourite version is the one on 1988’s Rattle and Hum album.

Wandering in Wongermine Reserve

 

OK that maybe a little bit melodramatic, but there was no doubt that getting out and about after a few weeks of lockdown was a bit of a rush! So where did I go? What did I do with this new found liberty? Well I went to Wongamine Reserve near Toodyay to look for two types of orchid and do the walk trail. Pretty sad eh?

 

The main entrance to Wongamine Nature Reserve, Toodyay, Western Australia.

 

 

 

The reserve isn’t really visited any more the gates are locked and many of the signs broken or over grown. In fact speaking of overgrown the walk trail is so overgrown in places that I  suggest that if you do want to visit and walk there that you take a GPS and download the walk track from Trails WA and follow that.

The reserve was closed a while ago and many of the trails and signs have fallen into a state of disrepair. Wongamine Nature Reserve, Toodyay, Western Australia.

 

Some of the vehicle tracks have not been used for a long time allowing termites to build mounds on them. Wongamine Nature Reserve, Toodyay, Western Australia.

 

This was one of only two trail markesr on the walk trail. Wongamine Nature Reserve, Toodyay, Western Australia.

 

Was there anything positive about the visit? Well yes there was actually. The woodland is home to quite a variety of bird life – I didn’t photograph any as I was not carrying a suitable lens as I had gone to photograph orchids. I would expect from walking through the bush that would be quite a display of wildflowers in spring which would make the journey well worth while. There were quite a few species of dragonflies as well which at the time surprised me for some reason.

 

Wongamine Nature Reserve by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Australian Emperor Dragonfly (Anax papuensis) Wongamine Nature Reserve, Toodyay, Western Australia.

 

Did I find the orchids? Well the Winter Spider Orchid is only 6cm tall with a 2cm flower and the Crinkle-leafed Bunny Orchid is 10cm tall with a 9mm flower  and considering that the reserve is 330 ha of bushland I think I did well to find anything at all. I didn’t find any Winter Spider Orchids, I have photographed them before at Babakin, but I found lots of the Bunny Orchids. In fact I never seen so many Crinkle-leafed Bunny Orchids before. So all in all it was a great day out.

 

Wongamine Nature Reserve by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Crinkle-leafed Bunny Orchid, Eriochilus dilatatus subsp undulatus. Wongamine Nature Reserve, Toodyay, Western Australia.

 

In The Bag

The video is the short version of this article with a slide show of the best of this year’s orchids at the end.

 

 

It’s not for nothing that Western Australia is referred to as the “Wildflower State”. There are over 13,000 species of plant to be found, with new discoveries added every year. If we narrow it down to my particular area of interest – orchids – there are 394 species of terrestrial orchids in the South West Corner of the state. Some of these species are so specialised that are confined to very small areas and found nowhere else. Some species will not bloom unless there has been a bush fire the summer before, others if the winter rains are delayed or are insufficient will not put a show on either. This means that no two years are the same. An example of this is my favourite spot near where I live is prolific with the number of orchid species found there. When I first went I was simply amazed by the number of fringed mantis and white spider orchids that were flowering. Over the ensuing ten years I’ve seen such a display of those species since. This year there was a carpet of purple and pink enamels like I’ve never seen before. So this not knowing quite what you are going to find adds to the whole experience. On a few occasions I may be lucky enough to be able to access the flowers by car and a short walk, but most of the time I end up walking through the bush for anything up to four hours.

 

Pink Enamel Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Pink enamel orchid, Elythranthera emarginata. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens. Aperture priority, exposure: 1/800 sec, f5.6 at ISO 400.

 

Purple Enamel Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Purple Enamel Orchid, Elythranthera brunonis. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens and Metz 64AF-1 flash. Exposure: Aperture priority mode, 1/40 sec, f8 at ISO 200 with -1 stop exposure compensation.

 

The Canon EOS 6d camera with 100mm f2.8 macro lens that I used to use for photographing orchids alongside the Olympus EM 1 mk ii with 60mm f2.8 macro lens that I use now.

 

I approach photographing orchids as I would shooting a person’s portrait – using off camera flash and reflectors to fill shadows, separate from the background, bring out the shape and textures. Too many botanic studies show indistinct photos where the subject does not fill the frame and the background is intrusive. To that end I use a macro lens of around 100 -120mm (35mm equivalent). It’s not because I’m necessarily shooting at a 1:1 ratio, it’s just because I’ve found there are very few zoom lens that focus close enough and have a fast aperture to allow control of depth of field.I used to use a Canon DSLR with a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 IS L lens and carry around a Manfrotto 143 Magic Arm Kit to support the lights. I made a video about using that setup some 7 years ago and that can be seen just below. Since making that video I added a full frame 6d, the Canon macro lens, and extra light and a set of TTL wireless flash triggers and consequently found myself schlepping 10-12Kg of kit into the bush on longer and longer forays. Something had to give – and my back did! So fast forward 7 years and I’m now using an Olympus OMD EM1 mk ii with Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens. I’ve not given anything up in terms of image quality with this change because I’m generally working at a base ISO of 200 with lighting which means all the usual objections to m4/3 about excessive noise and poor dynamic range have been taken out of the equation. The Olympus 60mm f2.8 is easily the optical equal of Canon’s EF 100mm f2.8 IS macro L lens at less than 1/2 the price and about 1/3 of the weight. The Manfrotto Magic Arm got binned as it was very heavy at 2.7 Kg and replaced with a Manfrotto Table Top Tripod Kit 209, 492 Long which weighs 454g. As far as lighting goes I’m using a Metz 64AF – 1 and an Olympus FL-600R flash with small soft box, snoot and honeycomb grid. The only thing that I have given up is radio TTL triggers for the flash, I’m using a TTL flash sync cable at the moment. I prefer to use the Metz unit when doing a lot of high speed sync work as it is the more powerful of the two. This may change in the New Year, it may not.

 

Lighting diagram for my basic lighting of an orchid.

 

The FL-600R is a flash with a guide number of of 50 (ISO200/m). In addition, it comes with a LED lightt for use when shooting video.

 

Other things in the bag include an 80cm 5 in 1 reflector – I only use the white reflector as the silver is too strong, the gold too garish. Some times I use the diffuser over a plant to cut down on ambient light levels. A Vittorinox CyberTool L is there. It has a good selection of small screwdriver bits that can most screws on a camera body, a set of pliers, wood saw, metal saw and file and a host of other doodads. I once re-assembled my Voigtländer 35mm f2.5 Color-Skopar with it while in on holiday in Beijing. Water – this can be in a 1L bottle for shorter expeditions or a 3L water bladder for longer ones. Extra clothing if needed, sunscreen and insect repellent to avoid nasty encounters. Batteries for camera and flash. Wallet of memory cards. That’s it. The whole process is very simple.

Look Good In Blue*

Going through a bit of a blue phase at the moment.

Scented Sun Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Scented Sun Orchid, Thelymitra macrophylla. Mount Ronan, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 64AF-1 flash. Exposure: aperture priority mode with high speed sync flash I/3200, f4 at ISO 200 with -2 stops exposure compensation.

 

Blue Lady Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Blue lady orchid, Thelymitra crinita, also known as the queen orchid and lily orchid. Mount Ronan, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 mk ii with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 64AF-1 flash. Exposure: Aperture priority mode 1/80 sec, f4 at ISO 200 with -1stop exposure compensation.

 

Granite Sun Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Granite Sun Orchid, Thelymitra petrophila. Mount Ronan, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 mk ii with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens. Exposure: aperture priority 1125 sec, f5.6 at ISO 800.

*  Todays musical reference is to Blondie‘s “Look Good In Blue” taken off their debut album “Blondie” released in December 1976. Some 43 years and eleven album later the band are still touring.

Goodness Gracious…. *

 

The Kangaroo Tick (Amblyomma triguttatum)

The Australian bush is a dangerous place for the intrepid orchid hunter. Poisonous snakes and spiders are the least of your worry. Nope the thing to worry about is the Kangaroo tick. Size is not an indication of dangerousness. At 4mm in length one of these horrid little beasties can cause a lot of pain and suffering. A lot! When we were away on our little jaunt to Nannup the other week unknowingly I picked up a couple of hitchhikers. Shortly after getting home they began to make their presence felt – quite literally. I woke up to find that my love spuds felt like they had been trapped in a vice and then set on fire. Very quickly it felt like I was walking around with a space hopper stuffed in me jocks.

My happy sack now resemble a space hopper thanks to kangaroo ticks.

Not for nothing are ticks referred to as “the dirty needles of the bush“. Each tick is like a little syringe loaded with all sorts of nasty toxic bacteria and unfortunately the process of removing them can inject even more of that horribleness into your bloodstream. Now after a few days of antibiotics and ibuprofen things are starting to improve. So if you are an orchid hunter let this be a salutary warning and please take precautions.

Funnily the word orchid  comes from the Ancient Greek ὄρχις (órkhis), literally meaning “testicle”, because of the shape of the twin tubers in some species of Orchis. In England between the 11th and 15th century orchids were called bollockwort with bollock meaning testicle and wort meaning plant. In medical lingo inflammation of the testicles is orchitis.

The tuber of the Red Beak Orchid (Pyrorchis nigricans) showing its testicular shape. Photo by Ken Macintyre 2010.

Here are some recent  pics from the suffering artist.

 

Lemon Scented Sun Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Lemon Scented Sun Orchid, Thelymitra antennifera, also known as the vanilla orchid. Wambyn, Western Australia.

 

Wandoo Beard Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Wandoo Beard Orchid, Calochilus stramenicola. Wambyn, Western Australia.

 

Custard Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Custard Orchid, Thelymitra villosa. Wambyn, Western Australia

 

*  Today’s song reference seemed very appropriate. It is of course Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”

 

Tyger Tyger, burning bright…

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake 1794 from “Songs of Experience
Tasmania does not have a monopoly on the thylacine. Many people believe they can be seen in Western Australia’s Blackwood Valley. Nannup is the focus of Thylacine tourism in Western Australia.
William Blake when he wrote his famous poem was thinking of the Bengal Tiger. We have/had tigers in Australia. Well kind of – hmmmm  not really. The Tasmanian tiger or to give it its proper name the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) once roamed all over Australia. But by the time the island continent was colonised it was restricted to the rain forests of Tasmania. I wrote a blog post about them a while ago. The thylacine is a tourist draw card in Tassie and it has become an icon for the tourist industry, but they don’t have a monopoly on it. Down in the South West corner of Western Australia, in the Blackwood Valley is the sleepy town of Nannup. Many of the locals are convinced that the Thylacine roams the forests in the valley and consequently it is now part of Nannup’s tourism campaign.

 

As it would happen we found ourselves in Nannup the other week. We weren’t looking for the tiger, but we certainly found them as we walked up and down the main street. Again like in Tassie the thylacine has been “gnomified” and can be found in front gardens all over the shop.

 

Frida was none too pleased with her thylacine encounter in Nannup.

 

It’s not the first time we’d visited the town, but we’d not been for a while and it had changed quite a bit. With the winding down of the forestry industry Nannup is seriously chasing the tourist dollar and the place has been titivated to reflect that. Once you were hard pushed to get a decent coffee now it seems that every other building is a cafe. It presents as a nice up beat place with a friendly vibe.

 

One of the Nannup locals, a Western Brush Wallaby (Macropus irma) also known as the black-gloved wallaby. Nannup, Western Australia.

 

… and they proved to be very friendly.

Our accommodation was ideally located in the forest and only a stone’s throw from Kondil Wildflower Park. The park consists of new growth forest which contains an incredible diversity of flora. There are three walking trails within the park and I walked two of them. The Woody Pear Walk which is a 1 Km easy walk trail and the the Wildflower Wander which according to the information board is 3.5 Km but according to my GPS is 4.9 Km – either way it’s an easy walk on well sign posted trails.

 

 

Below are some of the orchids I found while walking around.

 

Bird Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Bird Orchid, Pterostylis barbata. Nannup, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens. Exposure: 1/125 sec, f4 at ISO 1000.

 

Leaping Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Leaping spider orchid, Caladenia macrostylis. Nannup, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm macro lens. Exposure: 1/60 sec, f8, ISO 3200.

 

Albino Silky Blue Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Albino Silky Blue Orchid, Cyanicula sericea. Nannup, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm macro lens. Exposure: 1/125 sec, f4 at ISO 200.

 

Silky Blue Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Silky Blue Orchid, Cyanicula sericea. Nannup, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens. Exposure: 1/100, f5.6 at ISO 1000.

 

Warty Hammer Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Warty Hammer Orchid, Drakaea livida. Nannup, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM 1 mk ii with m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens. Exposure: 1/30 sec, f8 at ISO 64.

 

Magical Magic Lake

This could have been titled Hyden – the return. Hyden is a small town in the middle of the Wheatbelt in Western Australia some 292Km east of Perth. Regular readers will remember that we’ve been before and maybe somewhat perplexed as to why we’d bother to visit again. Well Hyden’s claim to fame is Wave Rock which is a large granite rock face that has been eroded in the shape of a perfect breaking wave. More than 100,000 tourists make their way there very year. Most just stay about an hour before zooming off to another destination to get the perfect instagram shot without taking any time to see what else is there. A great shame really as there is so much more to offer. When I wrote about our previous visit I concentrated more on other sites and the Aboriginal heritage of the area. This time I’ll look at what Hyden has to offer in terms of the natural world.

We decided to make a three day trip and on our way we’d stop off in Corrigin whose main claim to fame is the being the holder of the world record for the number of dogs in a ute and being the home to a dog cemetery. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Corrigin is a bit obsessed with dogs.  Anyway it was a nice spot to break the journey, stretch the legs, make the bladder gladder etc. Corrigin does have a pretty impressive wildflower drive which begins just opposite the dog cemetery just on the outskirts of town. Most people just pull up in their car, jump out and walk a couple of metres. They then declare that there’s nothing to see and rush off in a cloud of red dust. Just take your time and have a poke about and you’d be amazed at what you can find. Here are a few examples.

 

Sugar Candy Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Sugar Candy Orchid, Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta. Wildflower Drive, Corrigin, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Olympus mZuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens and Metz 15MS-1 flash. Exposure: AE priority 1/200 sec, f4 at ISO 400 with -1 stop exposure compensation.

 

Chameleon Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Chameleon Spider Orchid, Caladenia dimidia. Wildflower Drive, Corrigin, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Olympus mZuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens and Metz 15MS-1 flash. Exposure: AE priority 1/100 sec, f4 at ISO 400 with -1 stop exposure compensation.

 

 

Pink Candy Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Pink Candy Orchid, Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea. Wildflower Drive, Corrigin, Western Australia.

 

Blood Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Blood Spider Orchid, Caladenia filifera. Wildflower Drive, Corrigin, Western Australia.

 

Slender Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Slender Spider Orchid, Caladenia pulchra. Wildflower Drive, Corrigin, Western Australia.

 

Sugar Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Sugar Orchid, Ericksonella saccharata. Wildflower Drive, Corrigin, Western Australia.

When we got to Hyden we drove out to the Wave Rock Resort on the shore of Magic Lake which is where we were staying. The lake is quite startling. It’s not very big but is comprised of crystal clear salt water with a gypsum base. That pale coloured lake bed combined with the water makes a giant reflector that takes on the colours of the sky so as the day progresses the lake changes colour. To add to it’s other worldly qualities is that it lies in the middle of a salt plain which is fairly uniform in colour and is covered in mainly scrubby bush and a smattering of trees. It all made me want to get the tripod and graduated neutral density filters out.

 

Magical Magic Lake by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Magical Magic Lake. A canoe on Magic Lake beach at sunset. Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with Panasonic Leica 8-18mm f2.8-4 lens and +3 stop graduated neutral density filter. Exposure: AE priority 1/8 sec, f11 at ISO 200 with +1 stop exposure compensation.

 

Magical Sunset by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Magical Sunset. Magic Lake at sunset. Hyden Western Australia.

 

The next day we decided to combine the Wave Rock Walk Circuit with the Hippo’s Yawn Loop and the Breakers Trail to create a loop that would take us from the resort up to the Hippo’s Yawn then along the bottom of the rock out to the Breakers picnic area and then back to our accommodation at the resort. The best part of it was that we could take the dog as it is all very pet friendly. Along the way we hoped to see more orchids and birds as we passed through the salt plain and into the bush at the base of the rock.

 

Fence Line by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Old fence posts march across the salt flats at Magic Lake near Hyden in Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f4-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/250 sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

Crested Pigeon by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Crested pigeon, Ocyphaps lophotes, Magic Lake, Hyden, Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: Shutter priority 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 200 with -1/3 stop exposure compensation.

 

Kayibort by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Known to the Nyoongar as Kayibort the Black-faced woodswallow, Artamus cinerus, can be seen on the shores of Magic Lake, Hyden, Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: shutter priority 1/500 sec f6.3 at ISO 200.

 

Lets Dance by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Salt Lake Spider Orchid, Caladenia exilis subsp. exilis. Magic Lake, Hyden, Western Australia. Panasonic g85 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens. Exposure: aperture priority 1/640 sec, f4 at ISO 200 with +2/3 stop exposure compensation.

 

Yellow Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Yellow Spider Orchid, Caladenia denticulata subsp. denticulata. Magic Lake, Hyden, Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens. Exposure: aperture priority 1/125 sec, f8 at ISO 1000 with -1/3 stop exposure compensation.

 

When we got to the base of the rock the vegetation changed from the scrub of the salt plain to thick bush fed by the water run off from the rock. We both enjoyed pocking around in the undergrowth looking for flowers, taking photos of each other and trying to dissuade Frida, our dog, from trying to climb up the rock face in search of interesting holes. It was amazing to see so many orchids – the blue beards were like a carpet in places. It was absolutely wonderful to see.

 

Helen and Frida at Hippo’s Yawn near Hyden in Western Australia.

 

 

Recurved Shell Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Jug orchid, or recurved shell orchid (Pterostylis recurva). Wave Rock, Western Australia.

 

 

Blue Beard by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Blue beard or blue fairy orchid (Pheladenia deformis),. Wave Rock, Western Australia.

 

All in all we had a great time. There is so much to see and do that we’re already talking about going again. If you are planning a trip to Wave Rock there is a whole lot more to it than posing for a selfie for Facebook on the rock.

 

Emu Fence by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The Emu Fence at Wave Rock Resort. Hyden, Western Australia. iPhone SE in panorama mode. Exposure: 1/1400 sec, f2.2 at ISO 25.

 

The Hills Are Alive…

…  with flowers. Definitely not Julie Andrews and the ghastly singing Von Trapps.

When people think about Australian biodiversity and nature hot spots they automatically think of the rainforests of North Queensland, Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory or Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania. If prodded a little bit Western Australians might mention the Stirling Ranges National Park. But what if I were to tell you that there is a very significant region of biodiversity, a landscape that is still in its pristine state (i.e. has never been cleared) that is less than two hours drive from Perth? That it contains more than 1400 species of flowering plant, 24 of which are unique and not found anywhere else, there are 78 different species of bird, and there are ancient Aboriginal artefacts. So where is this place? Wongan Hills.

The name Wongan Hills comes from the Nyoongar Wongan Katta which means talking or whispering hills. The range of hills, which are about 10 north-west of the townsite are the largest single area of natural vegetation remaining in the northern wheatbelt. It is spring when everything happens – there is a truly spectacular display of wildflowers. I focus on native orchids and it is absolutely gobsmacking the number of different species and the sheer quantity of them. In the space of a morning’s walk around we found ten different species and they were totally new to me. Below are the fruits of that trip.

 

Pink Candy Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Pink Candy Orchid, Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea. Christmas Rock, Wongan Hills, Western Australia.Exposure: manual 1/125 s at f/8.0, Iso 200. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens, TTL fill flash provided by Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash.

 

Chameleon Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Chameleon Spider Orchid, Caladenia dimidia. Christmas Rock, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens, with Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: aperture priority 1/80 s at f/8.0 with -1 stop exposure compensation and TTL flash.

 

Yellow Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Yellow Spider Orchid, Caladenia denticulata subsp. denticulata. Christmas Rock, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Exposure: manual 1/160th sec, f8, ISO 200 with TTL flash. Olympus OMD EM1, OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens, Metz mecablitz 15 MS-1 ringflash.

 

 

Salt Lake Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Salt lake spider orchid ( Caladenia exilis subsp. exilis). Roger’s Reserve, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: Manual mode, 1/250 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

 

Clown Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Clown orchid (Caladenia roei) also known as ant orchid, man orchid and jack-in-the-box orchid. Christmas Rock, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: aperture priority 1/50 s at f/8.0 at ISO 200 with -1 stop exposure compensation.

 

 

Mottled Donkey Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Mottled donkey orchid, Diursis sp. ‘Wyalkatchem’. Christmas Rock, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens. Exposure: aperture priority mode 1/80 s at f/8.0 ISO 200 with -1 stop exposure compensation and flash from Metz 15MS-1 ring flash.

 

 

Yellow Granite Donkey Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Yellow Granite Donkey Orchid, Diursis hazelii. Mount Matilda, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: Manual mode 1/100 s at f/4.0 ISO 200.

 

 

Sugar Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Sugar Orchid, Ericksonella saccharata. Mount Matilda, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: Manual mode, 1/80 s at f/5.6 ISO 200.

 

 

Dainty Donkey Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Dainty donkey orchid, Diuris sp. ‘north-western wheatbelt’. Rogers Reserve, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: aperture priority with -2 stops exposure compensation 1/125 s at f/5.6 ISO 200.

 

 

Crimson Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Crimson spider orchid, Caladenia footeana. Rogers Reserve, Wongan Hills, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: Manual mode, 1/200 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.