Every now and then, I come across a picture on Flickr that takes my breath away.
This photo of a kingfisher against a backdrop of cherry blossom was taken in Japan by yamasan. It's so beautiful, I could gaze at it for hours!
I particularly like the contrast between the strong, sharp colours of the bird and the soft, pastel shades of the background. The gleam in the kingfisher's eye is just magical.
I was surprised to discover that this is exactly the same species of kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) as we see here in the UK. According to the IUCN it is found in more than 70 countries across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Its range stretches eastwards from Ireland half way round the globe to the Solomon Islands.
You can see more of yamasan's photos here and find out more about the kingfisher here.
I am grateful to yamasan for granting permission for me to use this image.