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It was an overcast morning for our Easter Monday ramble and the threat of showers was not far away. However the 10 people who turned up for the nature ramble experienced the pleasure of viewing some of our rarer autumn orchid species that had appeared after the recent rains.

Our first site visit was to the Alcoa Conservation Reserve in Fraser Ave where the Fringed Hare Orchids Leporella fimbriata had started to open during the week. This attractive species with its fringed labellum is pollinated by Baby Bull-ants just 1 cm long – the same width as the labellum where the winged male ant rests in his endeavour to mate with what he perceives as the female of the species. It was a matter of searching carefully amongst the vegetation and treading carefully so as not to damage the orchids, many of which were still in bud. Luckily some were growing on the edge of the track and were easily observed.

Close-up of Fringed Hare flower

fraserave2Group searching for orchids and taking photos

Back to our cars and a pleasant drive along the Great Ocean Road to Aireys Inlet allowed us to share the Autumn Greenhoods Pterostylis ampliata that were flowering brilliantly on private land. Sammy, whose family owns the block, was with us and he was able to show us some great colonies of this species. Again it was a matter of extreme caution as the flowers camouflage so well with the surrounding vegetation. The flowering orchids do not have rosettes but we did manage to find a small colony of non-flowering specimens with their tiny rosettes just breaking through the soil.

Unfortunately we are not aware of any area on public land in our district where this particular orchid grows well. We have a small colony in the Greenhood Reserve at Aireys Inlet and another at Gum Flat but it is seldom we find flowers at either site.

autumngreenhood3Colony of Autumn Greenhoods

Chris4Chris taking photo with some flowers in foreground

sammy5Sammy with the group – our thanks to Sammy for sharing

Back to our cars again and a pleasant drive along Old Coach Road to Moggs Creek where we were optimistic that we might have seen an Autumn Wasp orchid Chiloglottis curviclavia in flower as Keith had been monitoring the progress of a bud during the week. Unfortunately we did not manage to see the flower open and had to be content with just two flower buds and many of the paired leaves on the side of the embankment.

autumnwasp6Searching for Autumn Wasp Orchids at Moggs Creek

autumnwaspbud7Flowering specimen in bud

autumnwasp8Photo of flowering orchid taken a few weeks earlier

autumnwaspleaves9Lots of paired leaves.

We then decided to retreat to Aireys Inlet for coffee and were fortunate to arrive just before the crowds descended on the coffee shop. A rain shower that came just at that time made us realise we had made the right decision to explore the autumn heathland hillside track at another time.

Marg MacDonald
Photos by Marg MacDonald & Keith McLean