Photo credit: Ian Moodie
We have all been changing the way we live, but one thing that hasn't changed is our connection to nature. With many of us spending more time at home, we have a chance to spend more time in our gardens, slow down and take time to notice the amazing nature and wildlife around us.
There are lots of ways for to be involved with nature while are at home. We hope these lead to many hours of enjoyment as you get to know more about our natural world in the urban environment.
Identify and record your wildlife observations
There many great apps that make identifying wildlife really easy. You can see what you can find in your own garden or when you are out in the local area during your exercise break. Have a go with these ones, you’ll be an expert before you know it!
- Melbourne Water frog census: Record a frog call and add it to data collection for frog research. It has frog call recordings for easy identification.
- Birdlife Australia Aussie Birdcount: Walks you through how to identify every bird you see.
- iNaturalist: Take a photo of any plant or animal and the program and other experts make suggestions on what species they think it is.
- Museums Victoria Fauna App: Combines animal descriptions with photos, as well as animal calls, distribution maps, conservation status, butterfly flight times, frog calling times and depth information for marine species.
Compost and worm farms
Now is a great time to start or renew a compost or worm farm. Composting your fruit and veggie scraps is an easy and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save landfill and produce beautiful compost for your veggie garden.
To support Monash residents who want to start composting at home, we have partnered with Compost Community to offer compost bins, worm farms or Bokashi bins at a discounted price. You can order online from Compost Community.
Gardens for Wildlife Program
The Monash Gardens for Wildlife booklet is useful for people wanting to find out what they can do in their own garden to encourage wildlife. There are many examples of local native plants to support original vegetation in the Monash area.
Download the booklet here: Gardens for Wildlife booklet
Here are some habitat features you could add to your own garden:
On hot days, birds look for water sources to keep them hydrated. It’s easy to set one up - just a shallow dish in the shade will do. If you have a deeper bowl, place some rocks or sticks in it so smaller birds can safely find their way out.
Birds especially like elevated baths, preferably next to a bush where little birds can feel safe from predators. You could even try hanging one from a branch. Then sit back and enjoy the splash and colour as grateful birds visit your pop-up water source.
For more information, please see the Australian Geographic website: The secret world of bird baths
There are 16 frog species in Victoria and many are under threat due to loss of wetlands. You can help frogs survive in the urban environment by building them a pond in a shady or sunny part of your garden.
You can easily buy a pre-made pond and set it up in just one day. Frogs eat insects like mosquitoes, so they are great friends to have in your garden on summer nights, and you can enjoy their calls through the day and night.
For more information, see the Sustainable Gardening Australia website: Frog ponds
Native bee house
Australia has over 1,700 different types of native bees looking for places to live! They are small, cute and help pollinate our Australian plants.
As we have lost a lot of our plants and bushland in our city, native bees don’t have anywhere to live. You can help by hanging a bee hotel in your garden. They are fun and easy to make and you’ll enjoy seeing bees using their new digs.
Watch these Gardening Australia videos for tips:
How to make a bee hotel suitable for a range of different native bees
Make a native bee hotel and attract native bees into your garden
Create a skink lounge
Lizards, skinks and geckos are fantastic animals to attract to your garden. They are fun to watch and love to eat insect pests. Sadly, urban lizard populations are declining due to the loss of lizard-friendly habitats.
Creating a lizard lounge in your garden will help encourage and protect these gentle, valuable creatures.
All you need is a small area with some rocks so they can warm their bellies in the sun, some bits of wood stacked around the rocks, and nearby grasses and shrubs for them to hide in.
Read this handy fact sheet for how to set one up: Lizard Lounge factsheet
Lots of Australian birds and other native wildlife need nesting hollows to live in. Hollows usually only form once a tree is older than 100 years. As we have lost a lot of our big, old trees in our urban environment there is a huge shortage of hollows for animals to live in. You can help by providing a nest box in your tree that is specially designed for different animals, for example, sugar gliders, microbats or parrots.
You can make your own or buy one pre-made.
For more information on types of nestboxes and where to locate them on a tree, please see Nest boxes
If you'd like to buy a nest box, you can search online for providers who make a range of boxes for different species.
To build your own, go to the Wires website or the Birds in Backyards website.
Now is a great time to start a vegetable patch in your garden or even on your balcony.
There is lots of information at these links to help you get started:
Chickens can be great fun to have in your garden. They eat pest insects, create manure to add to your compost, lay yummy eggs, and eat lots of your kitchen food scraps, helping to reduce landfill.
You need to think about adequate housing, nesting, and fencing, ensure they have enough space for the number and breed of chickens, and access to clean food and water. Council Local Law allows you to have up to five poultry birds (no roosters).
Find out more here: How to keep backyard chickens healthy and happy
To ensure you are keeping your chickens and your family safe, please see more information here: Keeping backyard chickens
Download this CERES booklet to find out what other activities you can do at home with your family: 10 sustainability activities you can do at home
Contact our Sustainable Monash team at: firstname.lastname@example.org