In a flash of brilliant blue, with wings folded in for maximum speed, he rockets towards a hole in the ice. Plunging into the freezing water the kingfisher snaps once, twice and again. Then, with a twist and a flap, he bursts out into the air, a three-course dinner safely in hand - or rather, beak. These amazing pictures were taken at a small, pristine river in Land Hessen, central Germany. They show the bird returning to the water several times, until he had his fill. Kingfishers can capture 80 small fish, such as perch or sticklebacks, over the course of a day. The birds are notoriously difficult to photograph in action because of their speed, which can reach up to 60mph when diving. In recent years they have been battling against water pollution and changes in habitat. Their numbers declined in Britain in the last century, but a recent study by the RSPB has shown that the birds are starting to flourish again. The kingfisher is now widespread in central and southern England although less common further north. There are an estimated 3,600-6,000 pairs in Britain. They are usually found living and hunting by still or slow-flowing water such as lakes, canals and rivers in lowland areas. - Daily Mail