A Victoria boy is basking in the glow of a new passion and some internet fame thanks to a visit from a barred owl.
Tyson Hockley, 12, would typically spend his summer off from Glanford Middle School pitching for his Little League team and hanging out with friends, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in those plans, with the 2020 Little League Canadian Championships cancelled and physical distancing limiting group hangouts.
But the preteen found an outlet for the sudden hole in his summer. Tyson started filming YouTube videos for his channel, Tyson Hockley – sharing everything from a room-cleaning time lapse and “destroying stuff with a sledgehammer” to videos of himself exploring Shawnigan Lake and trying out Sidney’s Pacific Ninja Gym.
“As soon as I hit that record button I get into the YouTube zone,” he said. “Everything seems to flow pretty nicely, I hardly ever have to take retakes.”
A video featuring a barred owl significantly elevated the young YouTuber’s viewership. Sitting in the passenger seat on his way out to Quarry Park in North Saanich, Tyson introduces the clip by telling viewers he would be getting some “really cool, close-up shots.”
“Today’s going to be an awesome video,” he says. “Probably one of my best ones yet.”
Playing owl calls from a portable speaker, Tyson recorded a barred owl that watched him from a branch before swooping into the frame and landing on the speaker.
“It was amazing cause I’ve actually never seen an owl before in my whole life,” he said. “I went from never seeing an owl to one being right in front of me, so that was pretty cool.”
Tyson shared the video with Right This Minute, a viral videos channel, and soon more than 7,200 viewers had watched his owl encounter.
Tyson said baseball practice recently restarted and he’ll be heading back to school when possible, but he won’t abandon his YouTube channel. He hopes to end the summer with 1,000 subscribers.
His next video focuses on harbour seals and their pups at Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria.
“I’m going to try doing a little bit of everything. I don’t want to have a niche, I don’t want to be restricted to what content I can make. Pretty much whatever I think is cool I’m going to record it and put it on my YouTube channel.