Birdwatching at Bukit Brown with Dr Ho Hua Chew

During the Symposium titled Spaces for the Living: A discussion on Bukit Brown jointly organised by Singapore Heritage Society and NUS Southeast Studies Society on 19 Nov, Dr Ho Hua Chew of the Nature Society invited the 250 audience that attended to join Nature Society for a series of nature walk in Bukit Brown(BB) to create more awareness of the importance of BB as a green lung of Singapore. I signed up for the walk on 3 Dec.

It was unfortunate that quite a number who did signed up, did a no-show probably due to the rainy weather that has occured the whole week. Neverthless, those who turned up including myself enjoyed the lovely morning weather and guided by bird and tree experts including Dr Ho himself.

We met after the entrance of BB at the roundabout and immediately our tour leaders, Nature Society volunteers spotted the Blue Crowned Hanging parrot and set up the scope for us to see it ! Under the lovely shade of the huge rain tree, we spotted fruit bats who were roosting under the leaves of the bird nest fern. Even the beautiful butterflies were out and about !

Spotting the Fruit bats roosting

Common Mormon

Our walk continued and just a few meters away, the call of the banded woodpecker caught our ears. The Banded woodpecker was very well behaved and perched for 3 minutes for us to take a look at it. (unfortunately my shots of it were underexposed). A pair of spotted doves and pink neck pigeons were seen also, busy feeding on a fig tree.  We spotted also a solitary bee-eater. It's a juvenile blue-tailed bee eater.

Banded Woodpecker

Juvenile Blue-tailed bee eater
How can i forget to mention the Crimson Sunbird we saw darting among the shurbs. This sunbird is the unofficial bird of Singapore ! A vibrant little red dot, beautiful and full of life. Raptors we saw in flight today included the Changeable Hawk eagle (dark morph) and the Japanese Sparrow hawk. It was a very happy day for me to be in good company of fellow nature lovers.

During our walk we met two person representing SOS Bukit Brown which are a group of individuals working together to get people to sign a petition to save Bukit Brown ! Keep it up guys !

Dr Ho having a word with the
people of SOS Bukit Brown

Save Bukit Brown 100%

The case of preserving Bukit Brown as a heritage park 

Although a cemetery area, the old trees and other plants have grown to become an interesting wildlife habitat after 30+ years of no human intervention. From a NS report 84 species of birds, resident and migratory, are said to be found in this area, making up 23 % of the total species found in Singapore. Among  these are threaten /rare bird species such as the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Thick-billed Pigeon, Black-headed Bulbul. Some of these are exclusively forest birds. Given the proximity of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve or MacRitchie reservoir, this birds have moved over due to lack of space or attracted by the maturity of BB grounds as foraging/nesting grounds.

Although currently a speculation until an official Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) is actually done, we should not forget BB has a green lung other than being also a bird corridor. As a green lung, this area has and is still playing an important role of absorbing rainfall, preventing it from quickly flowing into drains that are already overburden thus preventing flash floods in the surrounding areas.The other is of course as a sponge for carbon dioxide.

As an old cemetery, the graves are also of great importance and are of cultural and heritage significance. I shall not elaborate too much into this as i will also be coming up with a series of articles on the various pioneers of Singapore buried here.

BB is an area where people come to jog, stroll and dog owners let their dogs have a good workout. Horses and ponies from the Equestrian Club are regular sights here too. This space is indeed for the living.

Volunteers with two lovely Scottish ponies



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