SUNDAY, 25 JULY 2010 - a bird walk at Bukit Brown Cemetery. When we read NSS' newsletter on this walk, it was a new place for us to discover. Even though it was 7.30am on a Sunday, some 30 other participants turned up as eager as we were to find out what birds we can see. We learned from Sutari Supardi, the leader of the walk the history of the cemetery that it was named after George Henry Brown, a shipowner who bought this 85 hectares plot in the 1840s where he had a residence on the hill. The area is located between Lornie Road and Mount Pleasant. The area was then bought in 1872 by 3 wealthy Hokkien businessmen from the same village in China, They intended the area to be set up as a village for settlement and other uses by the Ong clan. However it was unclear how it became a burial ground for the Seh-Ong clan. The hill in the area was also known as Kopi Sua (coffee hill) due to coffee plantation at Mount Pleasant. To meet the needs of a wider Chinese community for burial ground, the Municipal government acquired sections of the grounds and the cemetery became a public Chinese cemetery on 1 January 1922. Portion of the area was acquired by the LTA for alignment of Lornie Road in 1965 and some 200+ graves were exhumed. The area was further divided into two sections due to construction of the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) in the 1970s. The other cemetery is called Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In 1973 Bukit Brown Cemetery was closed for burial. Although exhumations had taken place in 1965, many of the tombs remain, as we discovered in our walk. As we walked on the paved paths circling the hill we found grand old trees covered with epiphytes high up on the branches. Coming from the foliage we heard calls of many birds among which were the Collared Kingfishers and Long-tailed parakeets almost following us as we walked. Highlight for us was sighting two Chestnut-bellied Malkohas at close range.
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