Working Behind The Scenes

RV Rooftop Projects

Since returning home from my second expedition to Texas this spring, I’ve occupied my time with improvements to my RV. The time I spent on the road these past months revealed some aspects of my rolling infrastructure that needed improvement. I began with the rooftop, by adding four 100 watt solar panels to the three I added two years ago. My goal was to construct a frame that would improve airflow over the van and recover some of the MPGs I lost when I added the other roof elements (e.g. the kayak lift). Before I added these elements, I was getting 15.5 to 17 mpg consistently, with a couple of 19 mpg tankfuls. That number fell to 13-14 mpg on my recent expedition. Without going into too much detail, I think I successfully executed my plan to gain watts, add storage (under the panels), and improve aerodynamics. I enjoy welding and fabricating with aluminum, so I was in my comfort-zone with this and other aspects of the roof project.

Presently I’m finishing up custom modifications to the inflatable kayak I bought last year, but never used. I expect to give it some shake-down cruises later this week, and try out some shorebird photography from the helm. 

I’ve quite a laundry list of RV projects still to address, but slowly, little-by-little, I should get them done. Stay tuned!

While I haven’t taken time of late to gather fresh bird images, I’ve been busy upgrading the content on my website. After my return from Texas, I added up the species on display in my Birds I Have Known galleries. I discovered the total species count is now 494. I found I’d I captured images of 209 bird species while in Texas, 78 of which I’d never met before.

I’ve long thought the gallery descriptions cried for improvement, and while I’ve been weaving the Texas birds into these accounts, I’ve been adding content to the descriptions. After revising several dozen galleries, I worked out a general guideline for the descriptions. Some of the revised galleries will require some updating to conform to the new standard. 

I’ve sifted Wikipedia and Cornell’s Birds of the World websites for most of my information. When I’ve found interesting (to me) information, I’ve woven it into the narrative, hoping these galleries will provide educational content useful for beginning and intermediate birding enthusiasts. The exercise elevates my understanding of the avian world, and hopefully that information will help other curious souls. Fleshing out each gallery description will be a long process and may take years to complete. But I’ve already taken the first steps on this thousand-mile journey. 

The format I intend to follow for the species descriptions should conform to the following outline:

  • Range description (gleaned from multiple sources)
  • Range map (captured from and credited to Birds of the World as per their FAQ)
  • Contextual descriptions of my meetings with the species
  • Interesting (at least to me) trivia about behaviour
  • Subspecies information

I’ve attached a set of albums below to illustrate my latest approach. This process will take me time, perhaps even years to complete. But though “tilting at windmills” it may be, I believe there is a benefit to be had.