Preparing to travel to East Africa

Three of us from ECHO will be leaving next Friday, Nov. 4th for East Africa.
The first stop will be Arusha, Tanzania where we will meet with key people and discuss plans for opening an ECHO East Africa Impact Center.
Two of us will proceed to Kigali, Rwanda to consult with Akilah Institute for Women on plans for an agricultural component on their new campus.
From there I will continue on to Kenya and join our son James in a visit to Turkana. James and I will then attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the Africa Inland Church Cheptebo Rural Development Project on Sunday, November 20th.
And of course I will squeeze in some birding along the way!
My intentions are to send a report from each of these countries — you can check up on me 🙂

Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve

One thing I do for fun, relaxation and a little bit of exercise is to count birds once or twice a month in Caloosahatchee Creeks which is a Lee County Preserve near ECHO. This preserve is undergoing restoration from previous use as agricultural land and invasion by exotic plants, mainly Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). More information about CCP is available online at the Lee County Conservation 20/20 site.

Tricolored Heron at Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve
Tricolored Heron

Today I walked around a portion of the preserve and counted 28 different species of birds in a little over 2 hours. That’s not great by birder’s standards but pretty decent for a June morning.

Some of the summer wildflowers are in bloom now which added to the overall enjoyment of the hike.

Here are a few more pictures:

Record Breaking Heat — August 2nd

I walked alone through the shady streets
Listening to my heart beat
In the record breaking heat
When we were born in time.
(Eric Clapton’s version of Bob Dylan song)

Yes, it has been hot. Too hot to work outside very long at Mom’s house up near Gainesville. Too hot for serious birding although the famous birding team, “Grey-haired Bobbys”, did make one foray onto Paynes Prairie and came away with a list of 29 including a couple of gorgeous Purple Gallinules.
I’m back to work at ECHO after a week’s vacation getting stuff done at Mom’s house. The trip to Tanzania in June went very well and there is now an excellent group of people on the planning committee working towards the ECHO East Africa Symposium in Arusha next February.

Ellen has been busy with the AIM Regional Administrator job. She enjoys the travel and interaction with people but it keeps her on the road too much for my liking! It is a temporary position that ends Sept. 14th when our good friends Sam and Bonnie Thomas take over. Ellen also has an MK education trip to Mozambique in a couple of weeks. Actually she just sent out this short update:

Hey y’all!

Hope that you are having a wonderful summer!

God is sure keeping us busy – We have had a wonderful week in Cincinnati where we celebrated my dad, Bob Wheeler’s, glorious first 90 years and then my awesome 40th high school reunion. Both fantastic indescribable occasions!

We just got back from a great week at the Hargrave farm where Bob and sister June helped with a number of projects around the farm. Otherwise, Bob keeps busy as an agricultural consultant at ECHO –

Myself – I have been keeping more than busy as interim Regional Administrator for AIM – which means that I meet with, e-mail, talk with all those who are interested in serving with AIM from the SE United States… I’ll be involved in this rewarding job through the middle of next month.

Next week I’ll be at AIM Headquarters’ to be on staff for our Candidate Week where there will be four of the young people that I have interviewed since starting this job. I am excited about seeing it from another angle! As usual, I will be meeting with all of the parents there to talk about educating their children in Africa!

Following that, I will be Mozambique for a week to be on staff for a homeschool week – I am in the midst of preparing my workshops – so, I definitely appreciate your prayers for that!

Cardinal Nest at the Farm


This week we are at the Hargrave homestead near LaCrosse for Father’s Day. Sitting in the TV room with my dad we noticed a Cardinal fly into the camellia bush just outside the window. I wondered if she might be there for more than just a casual visit and when we looked more closely discovered the nest. It must be hot enough during the day that she doesn’t have to sit on the eggs so I snapped this picture without disturbing the bush while she was away.

Last week at Hickey’s creek I found 4 Florida Scrub Jays on the Palmetto Pines loop just after the turn south to return. The literature mentions that they will post sentinels to keep a lookout for predators. Sure enough one sounded the alarm and I looked up to see a Swallow-tail Kite overhead; really not a danger to the Jays, but alarming nonetheless.

Tarflower (actually in Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve)
Tarflower (actually in Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve)

Also noted at Hickey’s Creek were blooming Tarflowers (Bejaria racemosa) —