I was just trying to take a picture of an Owl and it turned into an adventure.

I finally had the opportunity to video an Owl this morning, I thought at first it was a Hawk. Flying overhead it was being pursued by a swarm of smaller birds, they appeared to be Starlings. The bird of prey flew across the slough alighting on the spreader bar of a sailboat that had sunk and is keeling over.

animal animal photography avian beak
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Allow me to comment on the sailboat, it is a wooden classic that is worth a lot of money after restoration according to the owner of the marina. Everyone else has a different take on it, mine is, it’s a 75-year-old rotted wood boat that cannot stay afloat and should have been hauled after it sunk the first time. The hulk had been risen one time at least already last summer, the marina owner performed a miraculous job. Using innertubes, plastic 50-gallon drums, and some sort of bladders he set them in place wearing his diving gear.

Being the wiseacre that I am I approached him and said: “I guess your marina will be up for sale in a few weeks.” to which he replied with a quizzical look on his face “What do you mean?”

“There’s a better than average chance you’re gonna drown.”

“No, I’ve done it before.” was his reply.

“Yeh, I watched you last time and it scared the heck out of me, I’ve seen you in action that’s what worries me.” With a grin, I answered almost adding but I didn’t: ” How much do you figure your heirs will list it for?” I’m happy I didn’t include that.

He had brought another boat up from the bottom a few months before the “Classic” sunk, it was a cement hulled houseboat two stories high. That little extravaganza had not only me but several other old guy onlookers start to get acid reflex by merely watching him. He did it virtually alone and I give him a lot of credit for his perseverance, it sunk only once. The contents were emptied out onto the levee top with heavier items left on the dock as he needed help hauling them up. I have diminishing health making it impossible for me to assist him in any way otherwise I would, so yep I’m a sidewalk supervisor, well we have no sidewalks, I’m a road shoulder boss minus the cigar. We’re a tight-knit community where smart remarks are the grease that keeps the wheels turning, we all pretty much get along fine with one another; until we don’t.

Most marinas require two things in order to rent a berth,

1) Boat insurance, just in case it sinks.

2) Working condition, it must be able to move under its own power.

Neither of those vessels qualified for either one of the basic rules and if the owner required them his life would be much easier. Marina insurance will not cover reclaiming vessels unless the policy has a prohibitively expensive rider. Boat insurance is one of the best insurance bargains available, renters insurance is the other policy that’s even a better deal for the money. As with everything on the river, there is a story and when there isn’t one fiction will do as long as it’s funny.

I inserted the San Disk into my laptop and loaded the video into the old Microsoft “Movie Maker” program, in this novice video recorders mind it is the best and easiest program to edit, it’s not available any longer. The five-minute recording took almost that long to load, when it finished I was less than satisfied. The Owl did nothing but perch on that spreader bar, oh sure it (He-She I don’t know), moved it’s head once or twice. Normally I can glean something useful from any of them I record, but this one I immediately deleted never finding out what species of Owl it was. But it was nothing like the one I snuck up on.

While riding my mobility scooter down the levee one early morning I spied another Owl in a tree a short distance from my house, I returned and retrieved my video camera and tripod. This is important to the story and is the only reason I mention it, I am able to walk (hobble) about 5 steps, with a cane no more than 15, round trip. The Owl in the tree took flight, I may have spooked it, watching it fly around my neighbors’ roofed boat dock the bird landed on one of the rafters. Riding my scooter as close as possible I parked and with my cane in one hand and the camera in the other I entered stealth mode. After taking my allotted seven steps and setting up the camera I was hoping not to scare it away. The Owl was co-operating perfectly to the point of unbelievability. I successfully completed a five-minute video and the bird never indicated stress of any sort.

two brown owls on tree branch

As I always do the disk was removed and placed in my laptop to be loaded in the Movie Maker program. Now came the time to observe the seemingly perfect video. The beautiful bird of prey was motionless, no movement of the slightest, the breeze didn’t even ruffle the feathers. I noticed a strange reflection coming from it’s back, the bird was shiny, how odd was that? I got on my scooter and took a second look he/she was still there, I smelled a fish in Denmark. Sneaking up on the thing I was able to get within 20 feet of that plastic Owl about the time my neighbor (another old guy) asked me “what’s up?” I told him causing us both to laugh hysterically, and we still do a year later, all I have to say is “That Owl is still there!” I had a wife once that told me I wasn’t one bit cute or funny, this time must have been an exception.

A friend drove up after the adventure with the Owl on the sailboat, he says he comes over to get his daily dose of crazy, saying that I’m always up to something and he can’t stay away because he doesn’t want to miss a thing. He thinks he’s in better shape than I am, but that’s debatable, he falls over, yeh walking along and suddenly over he goes. Landing on the gravel driveway he always tells me how embarrassing it is as I try to lift him up, envision two old handicapped guys’ one trying to stand back up and the other with one arm in each of his armpits lifting him up. He still drives for crying out loud, so it’s an assist all the way over to the driver’s side. Passing by the riders window he opens the door, I’m under his left arm, and tosses his keys, wallet, and hat onto the seat, closing the door it locks. He’s a tough old coot, once a Marine always a Marine, I, on the other hand, was in the Navy, once a sailor always a wise guy. He asked me to get a wire hanger and he will unlock the door, I suggested he call triple A, “Naw, I can do this.” So here we have a smart guy that has good ideas and well a Marine, we worked on that for an hour. “Here let me do it”, is all I recall him saying. I retrieve my cell phone from the house and return, he has to call his wife to report in, there is no better way to get into trouble than not checking in. “Why don’t you call triple A?” was his wifes’ answer, “That’s what Jacque told me to do,” he answered. After an hour and some odd minutes they were called, the truck showed up in less than 15 minutes as he was just on the other side of the island. The reason he fell was because of a Hawk he saw on a power pole and he wanted me to video it so we did the old guy’s run, needless to say, we missed the photo op.

red tailed

I have a Youtube channel full of 30-second videos consisting mostly of wildlife, I have posted a couple of “how too’s”, none of which has gone viral or most likely ever will. That’s alright I’m in it for the fun learning about stuff I never attempted before, I am a rank amateur. I video, blog, raise worms, and garden, play the guitar, banjo, and ukulele to keep my spirits high it’s all a lot of fun. I appreciate the time you take to read my blog, hopefully, share it if you’re so inclined and visit me again, Thanks.

Jacque Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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