By Chris Adams
A shopping centre manager who spent four years and clocked up 10,000 miles trying to capture his dream kingfisher picture finally nailed the perfect snap – with almost his 50,000th effort.
Bird fan Gary Jones embarked on dozens of 400-mile round trips from Merseyside to Scotland trying to catch a kingfisher at the precise moment its beak hit the water.
And the dad-of-one was rewarded last month when he landed this flawless photograph as the bird dived into a lake in search of fish.
With its wings spread out, the kingfisher’s beak hadn’t even caused a ripple in the water before dad-of-one Gary managed to capture the winning shot.
Gary, 50, from Wirral, Merseyside, said: “I’m a bit of perfectionist. This is the kingfisher picture that all photographers dream about but they’re so quick it’s almost impossible.
“I go up to Scotland every other month and take about 2,000 pictures on each visit. I’ve been doing it for four years so I’ve had to bide my time.
“Every time you think you’ve got it, you’ll be a nanosecond too early or little. The beak will fall short of the water or it’ll be too late and there’ll be a splash already.
“Kingfishers are so fast it’s tricky to get them at the best of times but when they’re transfixed on the fish in the water it’s something else.
“I was camped out in the hide for six hours the morning I got this shot but it’s worth it when you pull off something special.
“It was like a bullet diving into the water so the timing was crucial. When I think about the thousands of near-perfect pictures I’ve got, it really hits home when you get what you were looking for.”
The water remained so still that the kingfisher’s reflection was still clearly visible in the sought-after picture.
The bird, believed to be female, soon emerged from the water with a tasty treat for itself.
Gary said: “Mid-dive they tuck their wings in so they’re more streamlined and it’s a sight to behold just as much as the wingspan is.
“It emerged from the water less than a second after diving. They’re frighteningly quick.
“I just love these types of shots. Every emergence shot is unique; the pattern the water makes, the shape of the bird. It’s a sight very rarely seen and opens up a whole new perspective on these amazing little birds.
“It makes the long drive home a lot more bearable when you know you’ve got something worthwhile.”