By Mark Hodge @mrhodgey

A SPRIGHTLY kingfisher sits perched on a 'no fishing' sign as it ruthlessly stalks its swimming prey

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Taking Aim: Kingfishers move at an extraordinary speed

Shot by photographer Corné van Oosterhout, 44, in a secret location near the city of Den Bosch, Holland, these stunning pictures show one of nature's most beautiful predators hunting for food.

The feathered animals hunt small fish in still or slow moving water

These incredible images, shot in the summer seasons of 2014 and 2015, give a rare glimpse into the incredible power and accuracy of the kingfisher.

Despite having distinctive blue and orange feathers, kingfishers are rarely seen as they prefer serene surroundings where the water is still or slow moving.

A kingfisher successfully catches a tasty fish

Snapper Corne prefers to keep the location of his pictures private, to protect the welfare of these fragile creatures.

The Dutchman, who is an electrical engineer by trade, spoke about the difficulty in capturing these unpredictable birds.

Fishing for Compliments: The beautiful birds have distinctive blue and orange feathers

He said: “l spend all my free time, including my holidays, trying to grab as many diving shots as I can.

“Some days they dive 20 times and then other days I sit for eight hours and there is just one bit of action - it's very hard to judge.”

Dive Bomber: One of the birds zones in on its prey
Killer Instinct: The ruthless bird retrieves the helpless fish

Corne explained his love of snapping these beautiful yet elusive feathered animals.

He said: “Most people I meet haven’t even seen a kingfisher in real life - some describe their first sighting as one of the best days of their life.

Photographer Corne spends hours watching the unpredictable kingfishers

“When I see how special the moment is for people it makes me realise how lucky I am to spend my free time with these birds.

“I also have a lot of respect for them in winter - trying to keep warm the whole night and in the morning, the first thing they do is plunge in the freezing cold water to catch breakfast.”

Thirsty Work: The kingfisher opens its incredible wings as it lifts a fish out of the water

The photographer revealed how he is able to get such crisp shots while the kingfishers are moving so fast.

“To freeze the action a lot of light is required and in Holland sunshine is not always guaranteed.

Corne's considerable patience is rewarded with stunning shots like this one

“To increase my chance of successful shots, I decided to use flashlights to be able to shoot in dull weather as well.

“I underestimated to amount of light I needed and in a couple of months I spent all my holiday money on 8 flashlights.”