Newfoundland Orchids

Since cluing up the two bird & nature tours last month, I’ve been taking a bit of time to do some family stuff and make some progress on some contract work with the university. Not much birding. However, those tours did reawaken my interest in wildflowers – something I haven’t taken as seriously as birds in the past, but always found very interesting. I stole a couple hours earlier this week and went to a local hotspot for orchids, where I found seven species in various stages of bloom.

So, here’s a whole post NOT devoted to birds. Instead, I’ll share a few photos of some orchids taken in Newfoundland over the past few summers. There are about three dozen species of orchids found across Newfoundland – some common, some very rare. I’ve included fourteen below, plus a hybrid.

The Bog Candle (Platanthera dilatata; left) is a common white orchid that grows in bogs and wetlands across the island. Hooded Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana; right) are unique among Newfoundland orchids due to their tight, spiraling flowers. It also exudes an almond-like aroma.

The Bog Candle (Platanthera dilatata; left) is a common white orchid that grows in bogs and wetlands across the island. Hooded Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana; right) are unique among Newfoundland orchids due to their tight, spiraling flowers. It also exudes an almond-like aroma.

Ragged Fringed Orchid (Platanthera lacera) is an uncommon orchid that occurs throughout much of Newfoundland. Its greenish-white flowers have a more ragged fringe than its relatives below.

Ragged Fringed Orchid (Platanthera lacera) is an uncommon orchid that occurs throughout much of Newfoundland. Its greenish-white flowers have a more ragged fringe than its relatives below.

Purple Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes) is a beautiful flower that growd in wet meadows and bogs. "Andrew's Orchid" (Platanthera x andrewsii) is a stunning hybrid between Purple-fringed and Ragged Fringed Orchids.

Purple Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes; left) is a beautiful flower that grows in wet meadows and bogs. “Andrew’s Orchid” (Platanthera x andrewsii; right) is a stunning hybrid between Purple-fringed and Ragged Fringed Orchids.

White Fringed Orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis) is locally common, while Marsh Leopard Orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis) is found only in a few select locations around St. John's.

White Fringed Orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis; left) is locally common, while Marsh Leopard Orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis; right) is found only in a few select locations around St. John’s.

A small, understated flower, the Clubspur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata) is common across most of the island.

A small, understated flower, the Clubspur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata) is common across most of the island.

The beautiful Dragon's Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa) occurs in a range of colours from the common pink form (left) to the much more uncommon white form (right).

The beautiful Dragon’s Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa) occurs in a range of colours from the common pink form (left) to the much more uncommon white form (right).

Both Grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus) and Rose Pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides) can be found across most of Newfoundland, though not typically on the Great Northern Peninsula.

Both Grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus) and Rose Pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides) can be found across most of Newfoundland, though not typically on the Great Northern Peninsula.

 Pink Lady Slippers (Cypripedium acaule; right) are among the most well known orchids, growing among low shrubs and clearings woods across the island. Showy Lady Slippers (Cypripedium reginae; left) is much less common, bordering on rare. This one was growing near Lomond in Gros Morne National Park.

Pink Lady Slippers (Cypripedium acaule; right) are among the most well known orchids, growing among low shrubs, clearings and open woods across the island. Showy Lady Slippers (Cypripedium reginae; left) is much less common, bordering on rare. This one was growing near Lomond in Gros Morne National Park.

Tall Northern Green Orchid (Platanthera huronensis) is a locally common orchid on the Great Northern Peninsula. Its dense, greenish-white flowers grow in large spikes, making it quite noticeable where it occurs.

Tall Northern Green Orchid (Platanthera huronensis) is a locally common orchid on the Great Northern Peninsula. Its dense, greenish-white flowers grow in large spikes, making it quite noticeable where it occurs.

A very tiny orchid, Green Adder's Mouth Orchid (Malaxia unifolia) is easily overlooked. It is relatively rare even where it occurs, including on the Avalon Peninsula where these were photographed.

A very tiny orchid, Green Adder’s Mouth Orchid (Malaxia unifolia) is easily overlooked. It is relatively rare even where it occurs, including on the Avalon Peninsula where these were photographed.

You can find more orchid and wildflower photos on my Flickr age.

OK – I promise the next post will include some birds. Honest.

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bird-AND-rock (and whales & wildflowers, too!)

It’s been a busy three weeks, as I recently finished leading two back-to-back bird & nature tours. The second tour, chartered by Massachusetts Audubon and organized by Wildland Tours, was a ten-day excursion that worked its way across the island from St. John’s to Gros Morne National Park and hit a lot of hot spots along the way. We lucked out on weather, with only one wet morning and enjoying sunshine on west coast while the rest of the island languished in the rain.

If the fourteen participants from MASS Audubon enjoyed the tour half as much as I did, it was a staggering success. We saw/hear more than 80 species of birds; basked in the spectacle of some of the world’s most amazing seabird colonies; had up close and personal experiences with several Sperm Whales (a life mammal for all hands!); soaked in the amazing scenery of cliffs, forests, fjords and the Long Range Mountains; and relished in lots of wonderful food. (Yes – it’s a tough, grueling job but someone has to do it!)

I’d like to thank our always upbeat and quick-thinking driver Jim Isaacs, MASS Audubon’s extremely knowledgeable travel guide Carol Decker and a wonderful group of participants for a great ten days! Below are some pictorial highlights of our adventure.

Despite seeing dozens of Humpback Whales off Cape Spear, we were surprised at a lack of whales during our boat trip at Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. However, we were far from disappointed since our extended tour of the seabird colonies took us to Green Island, where tens of thousands of birds were circling around the cliffs and over our heads. Truly awe-inspiring!

Despite seeing dozens of Humpback Whales off Cape Spear, we were surprised at a lack of whales during our boat trip at Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. However, we were far from disappointed since our extended tour of the seabird colonies took us to Green Island, where tens of thousands of birds were circling around the cliffs and over our heads. Truly awe-inspiring!

We "lucked out" with a beautiful, clear day at Cape St. Mary's where the Northern Gannets never let us down. We also had great looks at dozens of Thick-billed Murres at their southernmost breeding location in North America and several Great Cormorants, among lots of other great birds!

We “lucked out” with a beautiful, clear day at Cape St. Mary’s where the Northern Gannets never let us down. We also had great looks at dozens of Thick-billed Murres at their southernmost breeding location in North America and several Great Cormorants, among lots of other great birds!

Even when the birds were making themselves scarce, we found lots of amazing things to look at - including beautiful orchids like these Pink Ladyslippers ...

Even when the birds were making themselves scarce, we found lots of amazing things to look at – including beautiful orchids like these Pink Ladyslippers …

Another beautiful orchid found at location in both Terra Nova and Gros Morne National Parks was the Dragon's Mouth Orchid.

Another beautiful orchid found at location in both Terra Nova and Gros Morne National Parks was the Dragon’s Mouth Orchid.

Pine Grosbeaks were especially obliging at several locations during our tour, including this stunning male at Gros Morne National Park.

Pine Grosbeaks were especially obliging at several locations during our tour, including this stunning male at Gros Morne National Park.

One of the hands-down highlights for everyone was a zodiac adventure in Bonavista Bay on a beautiful, calm day.

One of the hands-down highlights for everyone was a zodiac adventure in Bonavista Bay on a beautiful, calm day. Sea of Whale Adventures gave us a real treat …

We had amazing experiences with five Sperm Whales during the trip ... a life whale for me, and an incredible beast to get to know.

We had amazing experiences with five Sperm Whales during the trip … a life whale for me, and an incredible beast to get to know.

Sperm Whales are unique in that their blowhole is located on the left side of their head, producing a distinctively angled spout.

Sperm Whales are unique in that their blowhole is located on the left side of their head, producing a distinctively angled spout.

Here's a close-up of the blowhole ... pretty neat!

Here’s a close-up of the blowhole … pretty neat!

Awesome!

Awesome!

Sperm Whales are the largest of the toothed whales. Males like the ones that hang out around Newfoundland can be more than 50 feet in length, with their huge heads making up for most of that bulk.

Sperm Whales are the largest of the toothed whales. Males like the ones that hang out around Newfoundland can be more than 50 feet in length, with their huge heads making up for most of that bulk.

SpermWhaleTail_June22_8863 SpermWhaleTail_June22_8720 SpermWhaleTail_June22_8718

Spectacular! What more can I say?!?!

Spectacular! What more can I say?!?!

Striped Coralroot is a very rare orchid in Newfoundland, with less than five known locations. This one was just coming in to bloom near Lomond, Gros Morne National Park on June 27. More than two dozen stems were found at this site, but this was the most advanced at the time.

Striped Coralroot is a very rare orchid in Newfoundland, with less than five known locations. This one was just coming in to bloom near Lomond, Gros Morne National Park on June 27. More than two dozen stems were found at this site, but this was the most advanced at the time.

A slightly more common orchid (though still far from widespread) was this Showy Ladyslipper - also just coming in to bloom.

A slightly more common orchid (though still far from widespread) was this Showy Ladyslipper – also just coming in to bloom.

The amazing scenery and geology pf Gros Morne National Park, like the Tablelands pictured here, is enough to justify its very own tour.

The amazing scenery and geology of Gros Morne National Park, like the Tablelands pictured here, is enough to justify its very own tour.

One of many little gems during the tour was this beautiful Trilobite fossil, tucked away in an obscure location. These extinct marine animals lived more than 250 million years ago!

One of many little gems during the tour was this beautiful Trilobite fossil, tucked away in an obscure location. These extinct marine animals lived more than 250 million years ago!

T'was a fantastic tour from start to finish!!

T’was a fantastic tour from start to finish!!