Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Eco-Hunt

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Eco-Hunt

24 June – 9 July, 2017

Calling kids of all ages – Prepare for the wetlands eco-hunt these school holidays!

 Take part in the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Eco-Hunt for your chance to win a cruise with Maroochy Nature Cruises. To join the action simply:

Step 1. Download QuestaGame (it’s free)

Step 2. Register for the eco-hunt here (it’s free):

Step 3. Submit sightings of the life you find as you explore the wetlands between 24th June and 9th July, using the QuestaGame app.

Note: You can also join the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary’s clan in QuestaGame. Joining a clan allows you to compete as a team and communicate with other clan members within the game. Request to join the clan here.

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Your quest is to explore the wetlands and find as many birds, butterflies, insects, crabs and other animals living at the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary as you can.

Submit your sightings through the fun outdoor mobile app, QuestaGame.

You’ll receive expert feedback and points for your sightings based on their rarity, for location and season.

Prizes

Main prize draw – 1 Family Pass (2A3C) on Maroochy Nature Cruises

One winner to be drawn from all eco-hunt entries who submit at least one sighting from the wetlands.

Champion spotter – $100 voucher from Whites IGA Bli Bli

Highest overall score based on sightings submitted from within the wetlands.

Best find – $100 gift voucher from River Shore Resort (can be used in restaurant, bar or accommodation)

Highest scoring individual sighting.

The eco-hunt is more than just fun!

The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Eco-Hunt gives YOU the chance to experience, learn about, and contribute to protecting the amazing biodiversity that is in our backyard.  Take a walk on the wild side, adventure into nature, and see what natural treasures you can find. Data that you collect contributes to mapping Australia’s incredible biodiversity.

  • experience nature on real outdoor adventures.

  • learn life’s secrets with expert feedback on all sightings.

  • help protect the environment as sightings contribute to biodiversity research.

Image: Aegiceras corniculatum by sea-kangaroo, used under CC BY-NC

Meander Through Mangroves

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Visitors are welcome to walk the tracks at any time – Image: Elaine de Wet

I’m not sure how many of you have had the privilege of visiting the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary in Bli Bli – we’ve attempted it once before, only to be blanketed in mosquitos from head to toe. Wrong season? Yep, it definitely was, so now with winter on its way, we decided our backyard adventuring needed once more to extend to the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Recreational trails – Image: Elaine de Wet

The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary is managed in a three-way partnership between Sunshine Coast Council, who provide the land and facilities, maintenance and administration; the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group whose volunteers provide very informative displays (including the Information Centre and Mangrove Room), minor ground maintenance, information, guided walks, species identifications and welcoming visitors; and Education Queensland, who staff and equip the Bilai Environmental Education Centre. The Information Centre is beautifully set up and well worthy of a browse.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

The Information Centre is well worthy of a browse – Images: Elaine de Wet

On the day of our visit we met John, who is one of the extremely helpful volunteers from the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group Inc. This gentleman very kindly offered us relevant information about the area as well as providing the all-important mozzie-repellant – just in case! John also informed us that should it be low tide, we would have the opportunity to spot the Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs. Of course not having checked the tides, we had no idea whether it was low tide or not, but to our absolute surprise, discovered we had chosen the perfect time to do our walk and were fortuitous indeed, as these little critters were out and about.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Crab viewing platform for tall and vertically-challenged (like me!) – Image: Elaine de Wet

The Sunshine Coast Council have very generously built a viewing platform – viewing areas for tall and vertically-challenged visitors (like me), to enjoy the diverse variety of crabs scurrying along doing their very important work within the mangroves. The mangroves provide a protective habitat for the crabs with the droppings of creatures that consume the mangrove leaves enriching the surface detritus (organic waste). This detritus together with leaves dropped by the mangroves form the basis of the crab diet.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs – Image: Elaine de Wet

So, having had our ‘sticking-out appendages’ totally mozzie-sprayed, off we went! This stunning Sanctuary is rich in biodiversity, with a kilometre of beautifully maintained boardwalks that meander through eucalypt forest, rainforest, melaleuca forest, casuarina woodland, salt marsh and mangroves, making for an easy and leisurely stroll. Local Aborigines called casuarinas ‘bilai’ – to make plurals they repeated the name, ‘bilai bilai’ which is how Bli Bli got its name -Bli Bli means many casuarinas.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Inter-tidal toughies – Image: Elaine de Wet

Visitors are given a free self-guided walk pamphlet, which lists all the species of wildlife and also the relevant sites within the Sanctuary. There are over one hundred and eighty birds that have been identified in this area which include bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground-dwellers and night birds. Your stroll is definitely enhanced with the calls and songs of the chirpy residents.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Bookmark the dates for the free guided walks – Image: Elaine de Wet

From May until September this year, visitors can enjoy a free guided walk on the first Sunday of every month i.e. 4 June, 2 July, 6 August and 3 September at 10.00am, are the upcoming dates to bookmark. As per my usual norm, I didn’t have this information in advance, so we chose a Sunday without the guided walk, but were quite happy to explore on our own!

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Beautifully maintained boardwalks – Image: Elaine de Wet

Look out for the relevant marked sites in the booklet, explaining the different vegetation and how important these resources are to the local wildlife. Benches are positioned throughout the Sanctuary should visitors wish to relax and enjoy the cacophony of sounds from the local residents.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Sit and enjoy the cacophony of sounds – Image: Elaine de Wet

Hubby and I spent an enormous amount of time enjoying the diversity of crabs, but especially the Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, which the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary have adopted as their logo. At low tide, the Fiddler Crabs emerge to feed and court on the muddy banks. Male Fiddler Crabs stand at their burrows, waving and rapping their oversized orange claws to entice a female Fiddler Crab inside. When another male ventures too close, the crabs engage in a grand mock battle, using their large claws as combat shields. One has to be as quiet as a mouse, as the minute they sense movement or even your shadow, they scurry off into their holes – a photo opportunity missed!

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Fascinating to watch – Image: Elaine de Wet

The walk through the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary continues all the way down to the Maroochy River to a Pontoon, which is solely for the use of authorised visitors to the Sanctuary. The entire walk is only two kilometres return (allow an hour plus for photos etc) and is perfect for families to get out and about for the day. The boardwalks are also suitable for wheelchair users and prams.

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Trails end at Maroochy River – Images: Elaine de Wet

The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary’s main aim is to preserve and restore the Sanctuary to create a permanent reserve of indigenous flora and fauna. In order to achieve this, they have a few rules in place:

 Remain on the boardwalks (though in saying this, moving off the boardwalks into the water definitely wasn’t too appealing to me);
 Please remove all litter;
 Leave plants undisturbed;
 Protect wildlife;
 NO dogs, horses, bicycles, skateboards or fishing

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Stunning tranquil day – Images: Elaine de Wet

As the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary is FREE admission, a donation box is left out (with the obligatory mozzie spray and self-guided walk pamphlets) and I just know that they would love a thoughtful donation to achieve their continued efforts to preserving and restoring this very important bio-diverse Sanctuary.

Remember to bookmark the first Sunday of every month until September for FREE guided walks at the Sanctuary and get your walking shoes all spruced up, it’s the perfect time of the year to visit the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary in Bli Bli. Check the tide times first!

Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, Orange-Clawed Fiddler Crabs, viewing platform, boardwalks, mozzie repellant, bush birds, raptors, water birds, pigeons, doves, ground dwellers, night birds, free guided walks from May to September, Maroochy River, no dogs, no horses, no bicycles, no skateboards, no fishing, FREE admission, donations, Sunshine Castle

Mozzie identification – just in case! – Image: Elaine de Wet

PS If you find you still have a few hours left in your day of exploring, why not pop into the Sunshine Castle for a coffee break – you pass it on your way out of Bli Bli!