Its Going to be a Big Year

Its not a baby. We watched one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies the other night, The Big Year. Its about birding. Then a few days later I saw on the internet that May 4th would be a Global Big Day where people all over the world would go out and see as many birds as they could in one long day of collective effort. Our family was motivated. We saw a few, but being novices it was some work. However, it is good to put a name to some of these birds we are seeing around the neighborhood. (These are not my photos; they all came of the www.ebird.org website.)

Winner for the loudest bird. The Hadada Ibis. They always come in pairs and make a loud squawking cry when disturbed.

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The most majestic. The African Harrier Hawk. The pair of them have a large 3-4 foot wide nest in a huge tree just outside our yard. They have one of the most persistent whistling cries.

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The cutest. The Red-billed Firefinch. These are tiny and could easily sit on your pinkie finger.

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The one that shimmers with iridescence. The White-fronted Bee-Eater

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The one with the coolest nest. The Baglafecht Weaver. They make hanging nests that look like gourds. Just outside the hospital there are probably 10 nests hanging in one tree and the air is full of these birds in the morning when I walk in.

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The most black and white? The Chin-spot Batis.

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About the Drought

A note from RVA . . .

Hi Team,

As we appreciate some rain, just wanted to send you an update from our 33 year rain records so you get some perspective on how dry it’s been so we can pray and sympathize with our neighbors who depend so much on rain.

 

Average rainfall for Jan. – April going back to 1986 (and what we have this year so far):

 

January average 2.95 inches (1.56 inches)

 

February 1.97 inches (0.43 inches)

 

March 4.02 inches (0.8 inches)

 

April 8.12 inches (1.46 inches)

 

May 6.4 inches (0.62 inches so fa

 

This after last year’s “short rains” were not exceptional either – below average for August – November (December was a little above average).

 

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Rainy season / Dry season

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Kijabe Hospital in the New York Times

Two of the doctors from Kijabe Hospital are mentioned in this long article about antibiotic resistance in Kenya. It is a real problem, and it is one that we are fighting against in our hospital under the leadership of Dr. George. I get to work with some amazing people.

Deadly germs, Lost cures. In a Poor Kenyan Community, Cheap Antibiotics Fuel Deadly Drug-Resistant Infections.

A passionate man with wide, expressive eyes, Dr. Otieno, 36, is a driving force behind the hospital’s newly established antimicrobial stewardship program. But he expressed frustration over the lack of progress, describing overworked nurses reluctant to embrace complex hygiene protocols and the hospital’s own pharmacy, which he said continued to overprescribe antibiotics.

A Weather Report

From one of the science teachers at RVA.

So far in April we’ve had 7.85 inches of rain (average for April going back roughly 30 years is 8.10 inches). As of April 24, we have had rain every “day” except for 4 days. (our weather station counts a day as from midnight to 11:59 pm). Some of those days were 0.01 or slightly more (8 days with 0.1 inches or less). But today has been our first day since 11 April without any rain!

May tends to have less rain if that’s any consolation (average is 6.1 inches). But the El Nino year of 1998 (with 60+ inches!) had close to 20 inches in May.

So far for the year we are just over 22 inches (we got 24 in total ALL of last year) with the yearly average being just under 38 inches.

It Has Been Rainy

From an email sent to the RVA staff . . .

9.04 inches so far in March.

Almost 16 straight days with rain (March 8th I don’t have any), including 28th of Feb. with just 0.06 inches that day. Not much in a single day (nothing higher than 2 inches in a 24 hour period), but other areas in Kenya may have had bigger single rains.

To put 9 inches in perspective, rain data going back to 1986 (with a few gaps in between) shows an avg for March of just 3.89 inches. The most ever recorded was 9.70 inches in 2002 and we’re almost there already.

April tends to be the wetter of the 2 months, with an avg of 8.10 inches for all those years. In 2013, the year of the infamous Kijabe mudslides, we recorded 24 inches! 1997 had almost 21 inches and I believe the Mombasa highway was washed out that year…

This information is provided by Jeff Davis, David’s science teacher. If you are headed to Kijabe bring an umbrella!

Termites

I had been at the hospital most of the day when Sarah came running in the house saying “There are millions of termites in the soccer field. You need to come see!” I went out not really expecting much when to my surprise I saw what looked like wiggly smoke coming out of a 10 foot by 10 foot section of the field. As I walked closer lots of termites were crawling out of newly formed termite holes, and then taking off into the cloudy sky. I have never seen anything like it, and the video above does not do the experience justice. It was incredible. These are the same termites that many of the people eat after frying in a skillet, and if you are truly African you eat them raw from the air as Annie’s friend did last week. We always have to be careful with the cracks in our doors in windows because masses of termites try and crawl in toward the light in these first rainy days of the rainy season. As the smoke of termites finally cleared and dissipated, the girls proceeded to run around the field and slide in the mud. The messier the better!

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Rainy season

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Virtue

“Virtue is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices requiring effort and concentration to do something which is good and right, but which doesn’t come naturally. And then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required automatically. Virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices become second nature.” – N.T. Wright

I got the quote from an article in Christianity Today Magazine titled “Can You Control Yourself“. It was worth the read, and you might find it interesting, although it may take a subscription to read it.