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Discovering nature

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Maroondah has an abundance of local biodiversity - indigenous plants, animals and fungi - that can be found in your garden, your street, local bushland and creek reserves, or any of the over 400 parks and open spaces across Maroondah.

Our local biodiversity is a reflection of the diversity, quality and connectedness of the natural habitats found in Maroondah, so the more we can reveal and record our local biodiversity the better informed we are to protect and improve the habitats that support it. We are inviting everyone - from entomologists to children, nature enthusiasts to novices - to become a ‘citizen scientist’ by seeking out the biodiversity they can find in their local area and using the iNaturalist platform to record their observations.

Every observation of nature that you record within Maroondah using iNaturalist will appear in the iNaturalist project “Nature in Maroondah”. Take a look at what observations have been made to date - you might be surprised by what has been observed in Maroondah! 

Maroondah has also participated in a number of citizen science initiatives including the City Nature Challenge and the Great Southern Bioblitz that encourage people to discover the nature near where they live and record their observations during a four day period.

Great Southern Bioblitz 2022 (28 - 31 October)

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The Great Southern Bioblitz is an opportunity for all Southern Hemisphere countries to record organisms during Spring and showcase our beautiful biodiversity to the world. The event is run by a grassroots network of keen citizen scientists from across the globe.

City Nature Challenge 2023 (28 April to 1 May)

City nature challenge

The City Nature Challenge is an annual global event run by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences that started in 2016.

Having first participated in 2021, Maroondah intends to participate again in the City Nature Challenge in 2023.

In 2022, Maroondah joined forces with 20 other metropolitan Melbourne Councils to represent Greater Melbourne and competed against 445 cities from around the world in the annual City Nature Challenge.

During the four-day observation period, residents were invited to find, photograph and record (using iNaturalist) the native plants, animals and fungi that live and grow in our neighborhoods. Working together to find and document nature in our area helps scientists and land managers study and protect these species and the habitats they rely on. See the 2022 City Nature Challenge results below.

To get started, download the free iNaturalist app (from Google Play or App Store) on to your smartphone and create your account.

Then head out to your local creek, reserve, or even your own backyard and see what you can find in the way of wild (ie not planted, cultivated, captive or domesticated) plants, animals or fungi. Using the app, you can record an image or two of each different plant or animal you can find (your phone’s GPS will record the date and location), identify them to the level you are confident with, then share your observations on the iNaturalist online platform.

These simple guides will help you download the iNaturalist App and make your first observation:

Alternatively, once back home on your computer, you can log into the iNaturalist website and record the locations (by dropping a pin on a map) and upload your photos of the observations. The main benefit of this method is that you can be more selective with the photos you upload.

Observations around Maroondah throughout the year will contribute to the ‘Nature in Maroondah’ project.

Here are some online options to help you learn how to use the iNaturalist app and website that cover different levels of interaction with the platform.

Two online webinar recordings hosted by Thomas Mesaglio (thebeachcomber), a curator and forum moderator on iNaturalist, and the leading identifier in Australia (on behalf of the Great Southern Bioblitz)

Another webinar recording on how to use the iNaturalist platform by ecologist Dr Luis Mata (on behalf of the City Nature Challenge).

The iNaturalist website also provides several detailed video tutorials.

Identifying your observations

iNaturalist is very user friendly and allows you to build your identification skills as you go! When you upload your observations, you are encouraged to identify what you have observed to the level of your knowledge.

This could be the specific species name if you know it, or simply “plant” or “animal” or “spider” for example. Once uploaded, the online iNaturalist community can see them, and may provide their own knowledge to further refine, or confirm the identifications.

So, you may only know what you have observed as a ‘moth’ or ‘fungi’, but once uploaded it is likely someone from the iNaturalist community will be able to tell you the full species name of what you saw. If you leave your observation with no initial identification it is very unlikely to catch the attention of the wide range of experts in the iNaturalist community. 

The following tips for seeking out nature and making valuable observations have been provided by ecologists, entomologists, and friends groups representatives from Maroondah and wider Victoria, including Graeme Lorimer, Luis Mata, John Cull & Ken McInnes.

Seeking out nature - where and when to look

  • Take it slow, stop and watch for a while, and you will start to notice things you may have otherwise missed
  • Carefully move small logs and rocks on the ground to see what you may find underneath – remember to put them back to their original position.
  • Carefully look under bits of loose bark from the base of gum trees to expose all kinds of insect, spider, and other invertebrate species – remember to leave any removed pieces of bark (facing down) at the base of the tree.
  • Find a plant in flower and look closely at the flowers for 5-10min – you’re bound to find many insect pollinators and other flower-visiting insects that are not quite apparent at first sight or that land on the flowers as you’re watching.
  • A compost bin often provides food and shelter for a number of invertebrates
  • Several of our birds (and other species too) are seasonal or migratory, so take time to seek out nature at different times of the year.
  • Springtime typically brings plenty of bird activity, such as breeding, nest building and feeding new young in nests. 
  • On warm days look closely at leaf litter and observe the critters moving around.
  • Look up to see what is happening in the tree canopy (Powerful Owls will roost high in a tree during the day), but also in the shrubs and grasses lower down.
  • If you find a hollow in a tree, stop and watch for a while as they can house a variety of species and are great spots to take photos for observations!
  • Waterbodies can attract water birds and many other species, not just for water but also for insects and other prey to eat.
  • Most of our indigenous plant species are small and below knee-high, so get down and look low and hard to see what you can discover.
  • Listen out for the calls of birds and frogs - these are often very helpful for identification, so record them if you can.
  • Birds are more active and therefore more observable, in the early morning or evening.
  • Lizards and snakes are more active and observable when it is warm and they come out to sun themselves.
  • Moths and other nocturnal invertebrates can be attracted to a light after dark. Try setting up a simple ‘moth sheet’ to attract them and once they have settled on the sheet they are quite easy to photograph up close
  • Nocturnal creatures can sometime be seen at dusk or dawn as they emerge from or return to their daytime shelters.

Making your observations more valuable to science

  • The most valuable observations are those of an individual species where its distinguishing characteristics are clearly shown, so others can confidently identify it from the information you have provided
  • In general, include as many different perspectives and details as possible in your observation photos, and always include a photo of the whole specimen.
  • To be of value, the species should be naturally wild and not 'planted', 'captive', domesticated’, cultivated, or 'placed'.
  • To be of scientific value, the records of the species should be identifiable and locatable by others, so the identification and location should be able to be confirmed - meaning that the photographic image or sound recording should be up close, clear and sharp.
  • Observations of a bird should include image(s) that show the shape of the beak, eye colour, distinguishing feather pattern etc.
  • Observations of a grass when not in flower or seeding, are very difficult to identify. Wherever possible, try to include close ups of the flower, seed head, and individual seeds
  • For Fungi take a photo of both the top of the fungi and underneath the cap. This can be done by photographing underneath or placing a mirror to reflect the gills and photograph that way.
  • Note behaviours to support, confirm your observations, e.g., confirmed by distinctive calls, flight, habitat etc.
  • For ferns, include photos of the top, underside of the leaf and the fronds.
  • For plants, include photos of as many different parts as you can including seeds, leaves, flowers and overall form.
  • For eucalypts it’s important to photograph key parts to help with identification: buds, fruits, flowers, leaves, and bark. You may even like to make a note of the scent.

The following online webinars provide further guidance on making your observation valuable to science and were held in the lead up to the 2022 Challenge. These were organised on behalf of the Greater Melbourne collaboration by Boroondara, Stonnington, Monash, Hume, Moreland, Banyule, Darebin, Knox, Moreland and Mitchell councils.

Maroondah participated in the City Nature Challenge 2022 (Friday 29 April to Monday 2 May, 2022), collaborating with 20 neighbouring councils to represent “Greater Melbourne"

Overall global results:

  • 1,694,877 observations
  • 50,176+ species
  • 67,220 observers

See Overall global results:

Greater Melbourne results

  • 12,599 observations (33rd overall out of 445 cities)
  • 2,035 species (27th overall)
  • 603 observers (23rd overall)

See all Greater Melbourne results

Maroondah results 

  • 1,183 observations (3rd of the 21 Greater Melbourne Councils)
  • 342 species
  • 78 observers 

 See Maroondah results

The top 5 most observed species in Maroondah were:

  1. Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
  2. Rainbo Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus)
  3. Oxycanus dirempta
  4. Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
  5. Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)

Observations

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See all observations

Maroondah participated in the City Nature Challenge 2021 (Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May, 2021), collaborating with seven neighbouring councils to represent Melbourne for the first time as “Melbourne - Eastern Metropolitan Area”

Given that this was the first time that Melbourne has been represented in the global Challenge, the results were astounding!

Overall global results:

  • 1,270,673 observations
  • 47,802 species
  • 55,133 observers

See Overall global results

 Melbourne -Eastern Metropolitan Area results:

  • 7,912 observations (41st overall out of 419 cities)
  • 1,192 species (55th overall)
  • 334 observers (41st overall

See all Melbourne -Eastern Metropolitan Area results

Maroondah results:

  • 2,640 observations (1st of the eight Melbourne - Eastern Metropolitan Area Councils)
  • 570 species
  • 81 observers

See Maroondah results

The top 5 most observed species in Maroondah were:

  1. Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
  2. Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis)
  3. Australian Blackthorn or Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa)
  4. Austral Bracken (Pteridium esculentum)
  5. Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata)

At the time, this represented the largest ‘bioblitz’ event ever held in Melbourne.

Observations

Grid of nature observations

View all observations

 

Maroondah participated in the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021 (Friday 22 October to Monday 25 October, 2021)

Southern Hemisphere results

  • 183,125 observations
  • 20,987 species
  • 5,763 observers

Maroondah results

  • 668 observations (6th of the metropolitan Melbourne councils)
  • 326 species
  • 31 observers

Top 5 most observed species in Maroondah

  • Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum)
  • Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata)
  • Showy Daisy-Bush (Olearia lirata)
  • Milkmaids (Burchardia umbellata)
  • Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)

Interested in hearing about future activities?

If you are interested in being informed of any similar activities being planned, please register your interest below:

Click here to view form.

08/03/2022
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