Occasional orange sun beams make their way through the dense forest which consists mainly of young birch trees in this area. Baerbel is sitting tightly on my arm and I can clearly feel her claws. Her head with its huge orange-glowing eyes is observantly yet calmly moving from side to side watching every movement around her. Baerbel is a Eurasian owl.
This type of owl is the biggest one having a wingspan from 1.70m to 1.80m. It kills its prey with its strong claws right at the spot without any further help of its beak. That way it kills a fully grown fox in less than three seconds. Whether it would take the owl one or two seconds more to kill a Labrador, I’m not keen to find out. Fortunately, the woman passing us by is smart enough to keep her Labrador on the leash and making a big circle around us.
It’s our fourth or fifth time visiting falconer Tanja who has become world famous with her pictures of her German Sheppard dog “Ingo” and her Minervas’s owl “Poldi” during the past two years. She’s humble, grounded and still in touch with reality. Anyway, she wins international awards and her pictures are printed in magazines all over the globe.
We leave the forest behind and step onto a field with knee-high weed. Tanja is looking for a good position while holding her Nikon with its great great 300mm 2,8 objective. I take off the falconry gauntlet, so we can see from what we want to take the pictures from: the tattoo of Baerbel on my left underarm together with its living model.
The owl claws into the naked skin of my right arm and Tanja lets us move a little bit to the right so that the background suits the foreground.
Right at that moment Baerbel seems to see something at the edge of the woods which seems to bother her. She wants to fly off my arm but I can grab her just in time to keep her from leaving. I’m making the mistake to grab her with my left hand as well trying to put her back on my arm. Burning pain shoots through my hand because one of her claws had grazed my hand. Luckily, only the top layer of my skin is lacerated by this incidental touch of Baerbel. In just five days the wound will have totally healed; way faster than the bite of a meerkat.
Baerbel is back on my arm and Tanja is taking some pictures together with Lisa. Afterwards we walk back through the dense forest to the falconry to look after Tanja’s gryphons.
After that, we leave for the ice cream parlour right in the middle of the “beautiful Remscheid”, or is it Wuppertal? I cannot tell them apart. Here you are driving along the very same street, passing three times the place-name sign “Remscheid” and twice the sign of “Wuppertal”, as someone born in Wuerzburg this confuses me. Well, anyway, GPS will lead us the way.
Like the two years before, Tanja orders the very same dish:” Four scoops of strawberry with double whipped cream please, because of my diet.”