Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bukit Brown Bird Walk

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

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.
More Photos from Bukit Brown

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Singapore Garden Festival-2010

TUESDAY, 20 JULY 2010- While helping out on some days at SGF 2010, a biennial event, held at Suntec Convention Centre from 15 to 22 July, we took some photographs of some of the garden designs. Looking forward to SGF 2012 at the new venue, "Gardens By The Bay".
Photos from SGF 2010

Phuket Holiday

White-throated Kingfisher

MONDAY, 5 JULY 2010- PHUKET is not just about the sea and sand. This time we decided to experience something different and during our stay we spent a day birding with a local guide, Ms Games, who picked us 6.15am from our hotel lobby. Our first stop was around the Ton Sai Waterfall which is located near the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park's headquarters. We sighted the Common Iora, Greater Flameback and some flowerpeckers, moving on to Thalang area and the mangrove swamps we were treated with sights of the Lesser Coucal, Indian Roller, White Throated Kingfisher, Brahminy Kite, Pied Fantail, Striated Heron, Gerygone, Collared Kingfisher, the Greater Coucal, Red-wattled Lapwing and Cattle Egret. We saw different Bulbuls - White Vented, Yellow Vented, Red Eyed and Red Whiskered at different spots. Towards the late afternoon at the Laguna area we saw the Paddyfield Pipit, Blue-winged Pitta and Scaly Breasted Murnia. Thanks to Ms. Games from Thailand Birding for an enjoyable day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cyrene's Gems

TUESDAY 13 JULY 2010- CYRENE REEF. Having heard a lot of Cyrene's marine life we were excited to get this opportunity to go. Even though we had to get up at 3.30 am to meet the schedule it was more than worthwhile.On landing, it was amazing to be standing almost as if in the middle of the sea surrounded by the bright lights of the nearby petro-chemical facilities. We had little time to admire the profusion of lights as we were reminded that we have only a couple of hours before the tide will reclaim the reefs.

As this was our first visit Chay Hoon took us under her wing. Looking down on the sand we were greeted by the outline of numerous sand dollars and before we could count the dollars we saw lots of Common Sea Stars. While taking photographs of the usual 5-arm stars we also saw a 4-arm and a 6-arm. While marvelling at such a lot of stars we could see a few meters further an amazing array of knobbly sea stars of various sizes, shapes and colours. As we took photographs of each knobbly we discovered each star is unique which meant we could not help but take photo after photo of every knobbly we came across. Our attention was also captured by other marine life that share the sea grass area. We saw some sea cucumbers, a flathead/crocodile fish, flatworm, a red eye purple crab, the poisonous Mosaic crab, some spiny fishes cleverly hidden in the jagged rocks. As we carefully locate the sandy parts amongst the rocky and grassy terrain to walk, we saw a beautiful long horn cow fish in a pool and later a discodoris nudibranch. There were carpet and peacock anemones and lots of zoanthids. As the dawn was breaking we switched off our headlights and made further discoveries. A few more interesting finds by Chay Hoon were the cushion stars and the star of our trip - the pentaceraster sea star which apparently was a long way from its usual habitat in the Indian ocean, but a most welcome discovery for our first trip.

Cyrene’s beautiful marine live that we saw on this trip (thanks to Ria) is unbelievable, given the heavy industry and container traffic at such close proximity of the reefs. Truly nature and industrialisation can co-exist. Any visitor would be mesmerized by what we saw.

Cyrene is a "gem" which shows that Man and Nature can co-exist as we progress, through our actions to preserve Nature whenever we can.