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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Friday, 19 June 2009

Möhnesee (Dam) they spoke engish all along...

When I served in Germany, I often went out with my German friends Wolf and Andreas, and we would go trapping and ringing various birds like Spotted Flycatcher, Little Owl, when I first met Wolf and Andreas they told me that they could not speak English. One evening we were trapping and ringing Tengmalm's Owl up in the Arnsberger Wald near the Mohnesee Dam, one of the Dams hit
by the famous Dam Busters raid.

On this occasion we had with us he Commander of the Royal Artillery (CRA) who is also a keen birder and he wanted to see this owl, so I arranged for it to happen with my friends. When you in the Arnsberger ringing this owl you need to get there for about midnight and stay until about three in the morning, and it is so dark in the woods there that you cannot see your hand in front of your face.

So, now that I have set the
scene, one of my jobs that evening was to translate for the CRA. I was doing really well and I was very pleased with myself, then the CRA asked another question, one of my friends answered him in English, I looked at Wolf with a look that could kill and this is how the conversation went from there:

Geoff "Wolf you just spoke English"

Wolf "yes I know"

Geoff "are you telling me that you could speak English the whole time we have know each other"

Wolf "yes"

Geoff "so you let me struggle for the last three years, when you could have spoken to me in English"

Wolf "yes, it worked though you speak German now"

Geoff "I don't care if it worked or not"

The rest you can guess and of course Wolf was right, it did work, because I do speak German now. But if you could have seen my face it was a real picture. I laugh about it now.

Top Left Picture: Geoffrey as a young soldier having just ringed a Tengmalm's Owl.

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