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Monday, May 7, 2012

Look For a Needle in a Haystack

Late last week my friend Ron Hanko reported he found, via tip from a friend, a white Calypso orchid in Washington Park.  This rare form of our common Western Calypso was something he and others had been looking for over the years without success.

He let me know its whereabouts. I knew exactly the path he found the flower along.  It was here we had such an amazing bounty of orchids last year.  Earlier in April, when I visited, this area was just starting to bud up but did not seem as promising as previous years.

Ron then sealed my fate, or so I feared

"You can't miss it"

I had heard this statement made many times over when looking for hard to find birds.  Barred Owl in particular was a nemesis for years and friends directed me or took me to their best "can't miss" spots.

Oh, yes I can.

But I was game and dutifully set out early in the morning to start my day at this wonderful park.  I quickly made my way to Green Point to visit the beach at low tide.  It is here where the salt water hits the shore that you first meet Shooting Stars and Monkey Flower. 

Many people who visit the park never venture off the paved road that winds its way through the forest,  It is a shame that they would miss these lovely blooms. 

A group of kayak's were near shore and from what I could hear, it sounded like a class for sea kayakers.  They navigated in and out of the rough water working the shoreline.

I visited the rough rocky beach and poked around in some tide pools.  Hermit crabs and whelks galore.  The shiny iridescent color of some of the shells really caught my eye.  This little one didn't stay still very long.

These were content to sit tight and await the return of the water.

I proceeded to the trail as Ron directed. I noted, along the way, that most of the Calypsos were pretty much pass their prime. Overall it feels like a somewhat less bountiful season here in the park. I noted that Western and Spotted Coralroot orchids were well underway. I think I noted them in locations I had not seen them in before. I also noted Chocolate Lily .

OK these are from Catherine Creek, but you get the idea.

I walked slooowly through the designated trail and up the slope.


I worked my way down the slope, checking out some Calypso that were past prime.

Still nothing.

At the bottom of the slope I chose to cut left and pass down a small branch of the trail that goes out to a dead end on an open slope above the water.

Nothing except a barking Sea Lion.

I figured that "Oh yes I can" applies today and in a moment there it was.

Totally in a little patch of light  to the side of the trail. Bowed over, face down.  It's stem bent over, either from its own weight or the fall of a twig or stray footfall.

I tried to appreciate and take its picture by holding the stem upright but finally I settled on propping it up with a small stick.

Poor thing, I am not sure it will last much longer with its stem pinched that way.  I took a GPS reading so that we can watch the area next year.

For now we are content at the sighting of this lovely gem.

Ron has his native orchid blog here


Pay him a visit and be stunned by his amazing photography of this and other gems.  Thank you Ron, and to your friend, for sharing the information about this prize.


  1. Absolutely beautiful orchid! It must have been a good feeling to find it and spend some time there with it. Now you know where it is and I wonder if there will be another or others next year?
    The Shooting Stars and Monkey Flowers look lovely as well just growing there along the shore and rocks.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to point this rare orchid out to me and my husband when we met you on the trail, and also for showing us other flowers and plants, too. You made our hike even more pleasurable. I've enjoyed looking at your beautiful photographs, too.
    All best,

  3. Wonderful post, Marti. I remember reading it, but enjoyed it just as much a second time.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on the Mountain Lady's Slippers.