Discovering nature

Young children looking through grass with magnifying glass

Maroondah has a beautiful natural environment with a variety 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.

Become a 'citizen scientist'

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. 

How to record observations

Getting started with iNaturalist

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.

Learning how to use iNaturalist

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. 

Tips for making observations

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.

Results from past challenges

City Nature challenge results

2024 City Nature Challenge results

The City Nature Challenge has grown and was divided into two umbrella projects in 2024 to fit all of the participating cities.

The results for Maroondah and Greater Melbourne were recorded as part of the Eurasia, Africa and Oceania umbrella project.

Overall global results:

  • 2,436,844 observations
  • 65,682 species
  • 83,528 observers

See Overall global results

Greater Melbourne results

  • 13,649 observations (17th out of Eurasia, Africa and Oceania)
  • 2,080 species (16th out of Eurasia, Africa and Oceania)
  • 862 observers (4th out of Eurasia, Africa and Oceania)

See all Greater Melbourne results

Maroondah results

  • 604 observations (5th of the 24 Greater Melbourne Councils)
  • 208 species, including 26 species recorded for the first time (6th of the 24 Greater Melbourne Councils)
  • 51 observers (4th of the 24 Greater Melbourne Councils)

See Maroondah results


The top 5 most observed species in Maroondah were:

  1. Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
  2. Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus)
  3. Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)
  4. Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
  5. Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

Maroondah participated in the 2023 City Nature Challenge (Friday 28 April to Monday 1 May, 2023), collaborating with 26 neighbouring councils to represent the “Greater Melbourne" region.

Overall global results:

  • 1,846,839 observations
  • 57,227 species
  • 65,800 observers

See Overall global results

Greater Melbourne results

  • 19,206 observations (20th overall out of 482 cities, and 3rd from the Southern Hemisphere)
  • 2,345 species (20th overall)
  • 924 observers (13th overall)

See all Greater Melbourne results

Maroondah results

  • 1,301 observations (5th of the 27 Greater Melbourne Councils)
  • 269 species
  • 60 observers

See Maroondah results


The top 5 most observed species in Maroondah were:

  1. Southern Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingii)
  2. Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis)
  3. Ruby Bonnet (Cruentomycena viscidocruenta)
  4. Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
  5. Mycena austrofilopes

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. Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus)
  3. Oxycanus dirempta
  4. Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
  5. Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)

Visit iNaturalist for more information on City Nature Challenge's that Maroondah has taken part in:

Great Southern Bioblitz results

Maroondah participated in the Great Southern BioBlitz 2023 (Friday 24 to Monday 27 November 2023)

Southern Hemisphere results (205 participating cities/regions)

  • 217,767 observations
  • 32,758 species
  • 6,860 observers

Maroondah results (87th overall)

  • 592 observations (8th of the participating metropolitan Melbourne councils)
  • 284 species
  • 34 observers

Top 5 most observed species in Maroondah

  • Common Brown (Heteronympha merope)
  • Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa
  • Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicens
  • Prickly Currant-Bush (Coprosma quadrifida
  • Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala

Maroondah participated in the Great Southern BioBlitz 2022 (Friday 28 to Monday 31 October 2022)

Southern Hemisphere results (222 participating cities/regions)

  • 215,044 observations
  • 23,667 species
  • 6,164 observers

Maroondah results (78th overall)

  • 493 observations (4th of the participating metropolitan Melbourne councils)
  • 217 species
  • 28 observers

Top 5 most observed species in Maroondah

  • Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicens)
  • Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
  • Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
  • Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)
  • Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum)

Maroondah participated in the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021 (Friday 22 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)

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