They're among the most beautiful, and shyest, creatures in Britain – you can wait by a river for hours in the hope of glimpsing one and be rewarded with nothing more than a fleeting flash of electric blue.
So imagine John Dent’s astonishment when he wandered into his kitchen – and spotted a kingfisher calmly perched beside his teapot.
Mr Dent had regularly spied the bird visiting his garden pond but never expected to encounter it inside his cottage in Withington, Herefordshire.
The retired farmer was disappointed when the bird quickly flew away. But the kingfisher made a second visit, giving Mr Dent time to grab his camera and capture this astonishing image.
Mr Dent, 74, who lives with his wife Elizabeth, 70, said: ‘He has been into the house twice now which is quite remarkable.
‘Thank God I had my camera to hand to get a picture of the little fella otherwise I don’t think anyone would have believed me. I had left the kitchen window open and noticed a flash of blue in the corner of my eye. When I saw him sitting right next to the teapot I thought he may have wanted a cup of tea.
‘After I took the picture I caught him gently and let him back out of the window. It was very unusual. Bird-watchers know how lucky you have to be to spot a kingfisher in the wild.’
Mr Dent said the bird, no bigger than a sparrow, had a plentiful supply of food outside so he could not explain why it flew in.
He added: ‘He has been coming to our pond since last November. It is full of
little black carp, which are ideal food for a kingfisher. He sits on a post, catches them, brings them out and swallows them head first.’
Andy Waters, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: ‘This is quite bizarre and extremely rare. I have never heard of a kingfisher flying into someone’s house. I can only imagine that he may be quite young and has lost his way a little bit.
'They are certainly one of the world’s most amazing birds and getting an opportunity to see one up close like this is fantastic.’