Trip 27 – Guess where?

If you said Dryandra, then well done. Yep, with last weekend being a long weekend due to the Queens Birthday holiday, we took another quick trip down to the Woodlands.

Taking the Friday off on annual leave, we shot down to Dryandra after work on the Thursday, giving us three full days to chill before our short drive home on the Monday. Georgia scored bonus wildlife points within minutes of arriving, spotting an Echidna snuffling away just a few metres behind our campsite. But by the time we’d all got over to take a look he shuffled himself into a cranny beside a log and didn’t want to come out for any pics.

Given that we were here just two weeks ago, our plan this trip was to see how the Orchid situation was going. If you recall, on our last trip, we found fourteen different species of orchids in the Woodlands, most of which were around the Congelin Campground. And, in between Dryandra trips we’d had an encounter with Larry, our bathroom chilling Peacock Jumping Spider. So we set ourselves an ambitious challenge of trying to find some local Dryandra Peacock Jumping Spiders.

First the orchids. Wow, what a difference two weeks make! Most of the orchids we’d seen on our last trip had gone and the only orchids that remained in any numbers were the Little Laughing Leek Orchids, which actually look a bit like a grassy weed, and lots of small Dragon Orchids. So, whilst there were still lots of other wildflowers around, the orchid situation had changed dramatically and for this year it was definitely better in early September.

Lemon Scented Orchid
Frog Greenhood Orchid
Spider Orchid
Dragon Orchid – a focus stacked shot of approximately 20 photos, all focussed on a different part of the flower.

Secondly, the Peacock Jumping Spiders. Damn, they’re hard to find! Unfortunately, I don’t think we found any of the colourful “Peacock” spiders but, after a fair bit of searching, we did eventually find some clusters of Jumping Spiders, all of them tiny and hidden in the dense leaf litter. Georgia proved to be the best spider spotter.

The first jumping spider Georgia found. You can see how small he is by the comparative size of the grains of sand next to him.
The same (first) jumping spider from the back, showing the little pattern on his abdomen.
Another jumping spider for which I took up to 30 different photos, all slightly focussed on a different part of the spider, which are then focussed stacked (blended) into a single pic which is sharp across the whole spider.
A larger, approx 6mm long, female spider. Shot also focus stacked.
Another focus stacked spider.
The largest jumping spider we found. She was about 8mm long and fat with what we assume are eggs. Also focus stacked.
We chased this little fella around the leaf litter for ages but he kept moving so only got a single shot.
Our last jumping spider, this one found on Georgia’s tent as she was packing up so we moved it to the post and took some pics.

Aside from the Orchids and Spiders, we used this trip to do a bit more exploring spending Friday checking out the Boyagin Nature Reserve, Boyagarra Pool and Yenyening Lakes. Boyagin Nature Reserve is much like the Dryandra Woodlands with preserved remnant native bushland however, somewhat hillier and containing some very large rocks. We took a drive through the park hoping to sight a Numbat or Echidna but, unfortunately, didn’t see anything. We did do some hiking out across Boyagin Rock and found some wonderful wind sculpted boulders and some hardy Orchids and wildflowers growing on top before we headed out of the reserve via some back tracks. At one point, having to drive a section of track which navigated about 200metres up and across one of the large flatter rock sections.

Purple Flags at Boyagin
Clawflower
Kunzea
Jules and George atop Boyagin Rock
Looking out at the other section of Boyagin Rock
Some of the boulders atop Boyagin Rock
Rod sitting in a cool little cave which is actually the weather worn out underside of a large boulder atop Boyagin Rock
Looking out from the little cave which is actually the weather worn out underside of a large boulder atop Boyagin Rock
More large boulders in Boyagin Nature Reserve
Lindley’s Everlastings
Southern Rose
Wheat fields after leaving Boyagin
Wheat fields after leaving Boyagin
Wheat fields after leaving Boyagin

On our way out to Yenyening Lakes we came across the Boyagarra Pool by accident. North of Brookton, we took a side road through some farmland so we could pick up a little firewood which was alongside the road, and well away from wooded tracks of land where there was more chance there’d be native animals making their home in it. Whilst heading up the track, we found ourselves at the Boyagarra Pool, a permanent waterhole in the Avon River, disturbing some ducks as we pulled up. From there we then made our way out to Yenyening Lakes where we went past old farmhouse ruins. Seeing this, Jules and I realised we’d actually visited Yenyening on our very first trip in the Goldy back in 2015.

The salt lakes sit in the Upper Avon Catchment Area and looked very different from our last visit. This trip they were surrounded by lush green wheat fields and contained water, whereas when we visited in 2015 the farm land was sheep cropped low grass and the lakes just a dried up salt pan. Rod did a little drone flight over the lakes whilst I explored with the camera and Georgia decided to get herself bogged in the salty mud at the water’s edge while wearing her new and expensive runners…

A pair of Australian Shelducks at Boyagarra Pool
Dead tree limbs aside Yenyening Lake
A Dandelion head at Yenyening Lake
Close up and abstract shot of a Pigface Flower at Yenyening Lake
Some form of grass head/flower at Yenyening Lake
A fallen tree literally wrapped in its own peeling bark

Friday evening was spent around a roaring campfire eating roast chicken and veggies for dinner, with plenty of wine, finished off with campfire roasted Apples stuffed with brown sugar and raisins. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Saturday dawned calm and sunny despite the ominous weather forecast and George and I joined Rod on another exploratory trip, this time out to the Norring Lakes south of Wagin. As we left the Dryandra Woodlands, we took a few minutes en-route to check out the Lol Gray Picnic Area. Looking for orchids, Jumping Spiders and Numbats, we only managed to find a single orchid, before heading down the highway towards Wagin and the Norring lakes system. On the way through Wagin, Rod took a side-trip to the Giant Ram where he managed to snap a funny pic of George posing in front of the statue. Unfortunately, the photo isn’t rated PG so we won’t post it on the blog, however, suffice to say, Georgia copped shit from Rod and me for the remainder of the weekend. On arriving at the lakes, Rod took some more drone footage whilst George and I explored a bit more. Despite there being a relatively stiff breeze, the lakes were mirror flat and with the heavy clouds overhead, it made for some lovely scenes and another free-camp to check out in future.

Little Norring Lake
Little Norring Lake
A pair of Pied Stilts in Lake Norring
Salty edge, rocks and a flat Lake Norring
Salty edge, rocks and a flat Lake Norring
Salt encrusted branch in Lake Norring
Post reflection Lake Norring
Dead tree Lake Norring
Salty edge, rocks and a flat Lake Norring
Photo credit Rod: A frame taken from Rod’s drone footage out over the salt lakes
Photo credit Rod: A frame taken from Rod’s drone footage out over the salt lakes
Interesting band of slate like rock running through the granite rocks on the edges of Lake Norring

Stopping at Narrogin for some lunch on the way home we noted the building clouds and, on arrival at Dryandra, had to take shelter in the van for a couple of hours whilst the rain front passed through. Luckily we’d stoked up the fire and the rain stopped before sun down as we were then treated with a beautiful sunset of clouds lighting up in angry colours of red and orange.

Flowers and a train graffiti, Wagin
Flowers and a train graffiti, Wagin
Abstract shot of bricks in an old building in Narrogin
Fields of wheat just outside of Narrogin
Abstract shot of bricks in an old builing in Narrogin
Beautiful evening sunlight streaming through the trees at the Congelin Campground a short while after it had rained.
The crew settling in for a night beside the campfire
Campfire and a beautiful sunset. What more could you ask for?
Abstract shot of the campfire flames

Sunday dawned a bit foggy, so we spent the morning sitting around the campfire having a long and late brekky before deciding to try our luck at spotting some wildlife. Slowly driving the roads, where we’d previously spotted Numbats, failed to turn anything up so we decided to take a walk parking up North of the Barna Mia sanctuary for a bit of an explore whilst Rod tried to record some of bird sound/song for his videos. I headed off into the bush, finding a few birds to photograph but nothing too exciting and noticed Jules and George chilling on a little side road. But, as I headed back to the car, they signalled me over as they weren’t chillin, they were actually waiting for a Numbat to reappear from his log. It turns out Rod had inadvertently found this little fella whilst doing his birdsong recording. Walking down the track a bit to get away from all the other sounds, Rod stopped next to a log and was recording the bird sounds when he heard a scratching coming from the log and the next minute he found himself face to face and only a couple of metres away from a little Numbat! We’re not sure who was most surprised, Rod or the Numbat, but the Numbat decided discretion is the better part of valour and disappeared back into his log. Rod went and grabbed Jules and Georgia, with me joining them a bit a later, and there we sat, waiting patiently and quietly for 20minutes or so, before he finally appeared before re-hiding, resulting in more waiting and re-appearing. Very cool and we know we’re really lucky to have seen yet another Numbat from this very small population. Georgia particularly so, having now seen three Numbats in only two visits!

Regent Parrot overseeing its nest hole in the tree literally across from our van at Congelin Campground
Western Gerygone, Dryandra Woodlands
Rufous Treecreeper, Dryandra Woodlands
Skink hiding under bark, Dryandra Woodlands
Are you still there? A little Numbat peeking out of his hole in the log. This is the 6th different Numbat we’ve seen at Dryandra this year!
After a while he built up the courage to pop out of his hole and peek over the top of his log at us.
He then decided we were obviously still pretty scary so he hid down another hole in his log, just peeking his head out occasionally to keep an eye on us.
Finally, he decided we were pretty cool and harmless and came out for a stroll on and around his log.

A short video of the Numbat

Rod’s SonyCam footage

With the Numbat making our Sunday, we then spent a lazy afternoon around the campsite doing a bit more hunting for Jumping Spiders before seeing the remainder of day out sitting next to the roaring campfire.

With storms forecast on the Monday, we managed to pack up and get away before 9am, arriving home at lunch time after another fantastic trip.

That’s probably our last trip to Dryandra for this year as we push into the Christmas season, but we’ll be back, again, for sure!

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