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Friday, September 30, 2011

Swarms of jellyfish invading the Med, warns top scientist - and some of them could really give you the wobbles


Nothing to trifle with: Swarms of jellyfish like these pelagias are taking over the Mediterranean and could be a danger to tourists, warn experts

Enormous swarms of jellyfish - some of them deadly - are taking over the Mediterranean, a top scientist has warned.

The holiday hotspot, a favourite with Brits, has seen a sharp increase in numbers and could turn into an 'ocean of jellyfish'.

Now researchers have set up a 'Jellywatch' so the public can report sightings via a website or by using a phone app.

Invasion: Blooms of Aurelia jellyfish like this one await sun-seekers heading for a winter break in the Mediterranean.. and it's getting worse

The scheme started in Italy and Israel three years ago after growing public fears over jellyfish 'blooms'. Monitoring has since begun in Spain.

The man behind the plan, Professor of zoology Ferdinando Boero, warned: 'Jellyfish cause problems for swimmers, particularly as some species are a real health hazard.

'An Italian woman was killed last year after being stung by a Portuguese Man o' War.

Deadly: A Portuguese Man o' War like this one killed a woman off the coast of Italy

'Jellyfish have clogged industrial marine cooling systems in Israel and they have also caused problems for power plants in the US and Scotland.'

He said: 'While jellyfish are a natural feature of the Mediterranean, 'jelly blooms' were rarely seen until the last few years when massive swarms became a frequent sight in coastal waters..

'This causes all sorts of problems and one of the biggest is obviously tourism.'

source: dailymail

Rare pure white humpback whale calf spotted off Great Barrier Reef


A white spectacle: A rare pure white humpback whale has been spotted off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. There are only 10 to 15 in the 15,000-strong humpback population along the east coast of Australia

A rare white humpback whale calf has been spotted near Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Believed to be just a few weeks old, the 12ft calf was seen at Cid Harbour in the famous reef's Whitsunday Islands area by a family out in the bay in their boat.

White whales are highly unusual, with only 10 to 15 believed to exist among up to 15,000 living along Australia's east coast.

Has he got a famous dad? This picture shows Migaloo - Aboriginal for 'whitefella' - another pure white whale that been spotted off Australia since 1991. The calf may be related

Wayne Fewings was diving in the harbour when he spotted the animal surfacing and described the sighting as a 'once in a lifetime experience'.

He said: 'We were just drifting when I noticed the smaller whale in the pod was white. I couldn't believe my eyes.

'Then the white calf approached my boat, seeming to want to check us out. I was just so amazed at seeing this animal, it made me think how truly astounding the Great Barrier Reef is.'

source: dailymail

Am I adopted, Mum? Rare monkey gives birth to ginger baby at London Zoo

By Daily Mail Reporter

Like mother, like son: First time mum Lu Lu, a rare Francois langur monkey, snuggles up with baby Tango, who was born with ginger fur at London Zoo

It's tricky to see a family resemblance between these two but this tiny flame-haired primate, nicknamed Tango, is actually snuggling up to its mother Lu Lu at ZSL London Zoo.

And far from going ape when he saw his offspring, Tango's father Neo was gingerly helping the little monkey settle in.

Both parents have black fur but as little Tango's mother is a rare Francois' langurs monkey, a flame coloured coat is typical in offspring.

Experts say the ginger fur evolved so it is easy for parents to spot their offspring. And looking at little Tango you can see Mother Nature's point.

The youngster, who is yet to be sexed since being born on September 1, spends most of its time snuggled up to Lu Lu, but its auntie Lee Lee also helps out with the babysitting.

Zookeeper Kathryn Sanders said: 'Baby Tango is currently rocking the redhead look, but it won't actually be ginger for very long.

Go ape: Baby Tango's fur will gradually turn black and by the time he is six months old, he can be expected to look more like his Mum

'Its fur will begin to darken at around three months of age, and they are usually completely black by the time they reach six months old.'

Francois' langurs are one of the world's rarest monkeys, and originate from north east Vietnam and China.

Classed as critically endangered and are in real danger of extinction. Their populations have declined sharply since 1990 because of habitat loss.

Family contrast: The birth of baby Tango has been welcomed by zoo staff as the Francois langur monkey critically endangered due to the destruction of their habitats

There are now believed to be fewer than 500 Francois' langurs left in Vietnam and around 1500 in China. Zoos in the U.S. have only 60.

In the wild, they prefer areas with moist forest that grows on well sheltered rocky areas in the limestone hills and caves. In the wild they eat leaves, fruit, buds, flowers, seeds stems and bark supplement.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

How did a Sei whale get beached in the middle of a field in East Yorkshire?

-Marine experts baffled by discovery in salt marshes
-Monster 33ft beast found 800 yards from the sea

By Daily Mail Reporter

Stranded: The 33ft whale was found beached 800 yards from the shoreline of the Humber Estuary

A rare breed of whale found dead 800 yards from the shoreline in the Humber Estuary has baffled marine experts.

The 33ft mammal, thought to be a Sei whale, was discovered in salt marshes on the north bank of the River Humber.

It is thought that the whale became stranded in shallow waters, rolled over onto its blowhole and died, before the tide retreated and left it behind, near the village of Skeffling.

Mysterious: Experts are baffled by the beached whales, as this one, like others, are from species not normally stranded on the British coast

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has spent the summer monitoring the area due to an increase in whale sighting and activity.

Conservationists believe the increase in the number of strandings could be explained by a change in sea currents bringing colder streams of Arctic water into the North Sea and with them whales that would not normally pass so close to the UK shoreline.

Experts who examined the animal said they are 95 per cent certain it is a female Sei whale and say the huge sea creature could simply have been looking for food when the tide turned.

Kirsten Smith, North Seas Living Seas manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: 'The area where the whale was found is salt marsh, which is still connected to the sea.

Too late: Andy Gibson from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust examines the young female whale on the banks of the Humber Estuary on Wednesday

'With the high tide the whale probably got carried up on to the salt marsh, got pushed further in shore and then got stuck when the tide went out.

'The salt marsh is one of several components of the Humber Estuary, and is further in than the mud flats and sand components.

'Sometimes whales come into the shallow water looking for food and get stuck.

'It can be illness or confusion in individual animals, but for it to happen twice in the area, and with reports of another whale nearby now, that could be more than just coincidence.'

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has launched a campaign called Petition Fish to encourage to Government to monitor more closely the changes in British marine life.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said that the whale is likely to have found herself so far in as today marked the day of the highest and lowest tide of the year.

Stuck in the mud: Last month a 30ft baby Minke whale became beached in a shallow dock near Grimsby, Lincolnshire, but rescuers managed to save it after an eight-hour mission

Successful mission: Over 50 emergency personnel descended on Grimsby's Immingham Docks, including the RSPCA, Coastguard, RNLI, fire services and British Marine Rescue

Humber Estuary Services estimate that water levels at Albert Dock, near Hull went as high as 9.5m by 7am today, and went down to 1.3m by 2pm.

The whale, found at 2.30pm last Friday, is the latest of a number to have died in the Humber estuary.

Andy Gibson, of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, added that Sei whale strandings were very rare with only three in UK waters in the last 20 years.

Mr Gibson said: 'It was in shallow water of 4ft -5ft, making contact with the bottom. When it gets in that situation it rolls onto its side and it can cover its blow hole. It is sad but we will be able to learn a lot from it.'

Earlier this month, a young Fin whale - a relative of the Sei - became stranded at Immingham, North East Lincolnshire, and washed up dead near Spurn Point.

Another dead whale was spotted in the river mouth in the last few days but has yet to wash ashore.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has reported a rise in whale sightings this year but no-one is sure why the mammals are making their way to the North Sea.

Over the summer, a pod of around ten Minke whales were regularly spotted off the North Yorkshire coast between Whitby and Scarborough.


That's one helluva halibut! Retired policeman battles for three hours to catch 38 STONE fish

-8ft 3in Atlantic halibut smashed previous world record by 58lb
-Would make 1,000 fillet portions and as a good quality fish restaurant can charge £25 for halibut main course, it could have realised a value of £25,000

By Lucy Buckland

What a catch!: Reinhard Wuhrmann caught this halibut in the north of Norway, it took him three hours to pull the fish in

A retired policeman battled for three hours to catch a halibut weighing a whopping 38.5 stone to claim a world record.

The super flat fish was so big that at one point Reinhard Wuhrmann's rod snapped in two as he was tried to snare the creature off the island of Senja in northern Norway.

The 62-year-old and two others were only able to haul it onto their boat after tying a rope around it when it came alongside.

The 8ft 3in Atlantic halibut tipped the scales at just over 540lb - smashing the previous world record by an impressive 58lb.

It would have sold for about £2,500 at a British fish market and made about 1,000 fillet portions.

A good quality fish restaurant can charge £25 for a halibut main course, meaning the record fish could have realised a value of £25,000.

Despite being very tired after catching the halibut, Mr Wuhrmann still went through with a bet to shave off his beard the men had previously made for netting the biggest fish.

Three hour battle: Reinhard Wuhrmann, 62, fought with the monster from the deep for three hours before he and three fishermen colleagues finally detained it

Boat skipper Ulrich Alstetter, 53, said: 'It was an incredible experience and we are very proud.

'Reinhard was very tired afterwards but also intoxicated by the experience and by claiming a world record.

'We had made a bet to shave his beard if he caught the biggest fish. Like a good sport he went through with it.'

Ulrich said: 'The halibut took Reinhard's little jigg bait and his rod bent over double.

'We all watched for a few minutes and then it became clear this was going to be a big fish.

'After about 90 minutes of Reinhard trying to reel it in his rod broke in two from the pressure it was under. It was his favourite rod.

Supersize: At 8ft 3ins the Atlantic halibut tipped the scales at just over 540 pounds - smashing the previous world record by an impressive 58lbs

'Because I am taller than him I took what was left of his rod and after another hour the fish was alongside the boat. It was then seen for the first time and it was a huge fish.

'It then shot another 100 metres deep and it took me another 15 minutes to bring him up and another 15 minutes to get a rope around it.

'It was a team effort but Reinhard was the official catcher.'

The men each took about 25lb of halibut fillets home and the rest was given away to other anglers and locals.

The previous record for an Atlantic halibut was held by fellow German Gunther Hansel who caught a 483lb specimen off Iceland last year.

Anglers Bosse Carlsson and Hans-Olov Nilsson caught a 464lbs halibut off Norway in 2009.

Before that Danish angler Soren Beck caught a then-record 443lbs specimen in the Arctic Circle off Norway in 2008.

The biggest Pacific halibut caught was by Jack Tragis off Alaska in November 1996 with a 459lbs fish.

Atlantic halibut - Hippoglossus hippoglossus in Latin - is among the largest bony fish in the world.

Their native habitat is the northern Atlantic, from Greenland to the Barents Sea and as far south as the Bay of Biscay.

They can reach up to 15ft in length, weigh up to 700lbs and can live for 50 years.

Their diet is usually other fish like cod, haddock and herring although they do face predation from seals and the Greenland shark.


I'm big enough to clean my own face, mum! Rare baby Amur tiger looks less than impressed by his mother's attentions

By Sara Nelson

Oh mum! Iris gives one of her triplets a loving lick - but he looks less than impressed

This seven-week-old tiger cub looks less than impressed as his mother gives him a hearty lick during his first foray into the open air at a Russian zoo.

The cub is one of three born to female Amur tiger Iris and her mate Kedr, who have already have seven babies.

The latest litter was born at the Royev Ruchey zoo in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on August 5 and the trio have been named Kaktus, Jasmin and Narciss.

I'll get you back! The tiny cub play fights with his mother as the family makes it's first public appearance at Royev Ruchey zoo in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk

Siberian tigers are one of the world's rarest species with only 300 thought to be left in the wild, most of which are in Russia's Far East.

The world's largest cat was once a familiar sight across northern China, the Korean peninsula and eastern Russia.

But loss of habitat and poaching almost wiped out the cats during the early 20th century with only 20-30 individuals surviving in the wild by the 1940s.

Watch me go: The trio were born on August 5 and are named Kaktus, Jasmin and Narciss

Fierce! One of the seven-week-old cubs tries out his fighting face


Is it a bird? Is it a hamster? Meet the sugar gliders flying around a suburban living room

By Lucy Buckland

Flying high: Kayleigh Price playing with her pet sugar glider Gizmo, Ms Price said the creatures don't so much fly as 'fall with grace'

Soaring through the air these creatures are often mistaken for flying hamsters or bats with tails.

But far from being an oddity, these friendly furry marsupials are in fact a type of possum known as a sugar glider.

In the wild these tiny creatures fling themselves from tree to tree but at the Animal Experience in Cambridge the sugar gliders are usually seen flying around the living room.

Owner Kayleigh Price, who cares for five of the furry marsupials with her parents Mitch and Hazel, said the adorable creatures are popular with visitors to the animal centre.

Ms Price said: 'Next to the big lizards, the sugar gliders are my favourite animals. They are very tame and good natured so they make very good pets.

'They can glide up to 200m and in the wild they would take off from tree tops. They don't so much fly as fall with grace.'

The 18-year-old studied animal management before taking a full-time role looking after her parents giant menagerie which houses more than 120 animals.

The Prices care for blind sugar glider, Stevie Wonder, who recently underwent an operation to fix his cataracts, and energetic Gizmo.

Gliding: Gizmo can fly up to 200m, in the wild he would go from tree to tree but at The Animal Experience he is often seen soaring around the living room

Adorable: Kayleigh Price, who runs Animal Experience, says the sugar gliders are a favourite with visitors

Catch me if you can: Kayleigh Price with Gizmo in her living room, she says the aim of the zoo is to educate people about rare types of animals

The Prices use their zoo to educate people about the various creatures in their care.

Ms price added said: 'A lot of the animals we have people are afraid of. We try to show them what animals are really like if you treat them properly.'

Sugar gliders are nocturnal and native to Australia.

In the wild they exist on a diet of insects and sweet tree sap, however, the Price's gliders eat honey, fruit and baby food.

Where will he land? Gizmo take a soaring glide across Kayleigh Price's living room

Furry friends: Gizmo and Stevie Wonder relax after flying around

Ms Price, who has grown up surrounded by weird and wonderful animals, said: 'When I was at school everyone thought my house full of animals was crazy.

'But then they started asking if they could come round and see the animals.

'All my friends love the sugar gliders and think they are adorable.'

The operation to restore Stevie Wonder's sight was the first of its kind and has so far been successful in one eye.

Kayleigh said: 'We had to get a specialist to do the operation because his eye is so small.

'But it's been successful and he is going to get his other one done soon.'


Let the dog see the rabbit... sorry, he can't! Greyhound who lost every race turns out to be BLIND


Plucky Jack: The greyhound was diagnosed with a rare type of blindness after being retired because his owner thought he was a dud. In fact his condition meant he would have been terrified while on the race track

When Jack Sprat the greyhound came last in every race in which he competed, his owners thought they had a dud.

But in fact, he did well to keep up with the pack at all because it turns out Jack is almost completely blind and couldn’t see the rabbit.

The hound, who was born in Ireland, was entered into dog races in Wimbledon, London, last year after he hit speeds of 40mph in training.

Lagging behind: Jack, circled, struggling to keep up with the pack on the track at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. He came last in both his races

Despite his disability, Jack can still run 100 metres in just 6.39 seconds - considerably faster than athlete Usain Bolt who broke records with his 9.69 time.

But three-year-old Jack, competing under the name Centurys Gunner, came sixth in both of his races at the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium.

Looking for a new home: Dog trainer Charlie Parsley with Jack at the Dogs' Trust in Norfolk. The trust said that he will make a perfect pet

His baffled owner, believing he just wasn't fast enough, retired him and handed him over to the Dogs' Trust in Snetterton, Norfolk, in July this year.

Vets at the animal charity examined Jack and realised a rare condition had left him completely blind in his left eye and with only 20 per cent vision in his right.

They diagnosed him with Chorioretinitis, a swelling and irritation of the middle layer of the eye, which is irreparable.

'We think he may compensate for his loss of sight with his other senses. For example he likes to be on the left side of the person taking him for a walk so he can sense where they are.

'He needs to get used to his surroundings but once he is familiar in his new home he will be a perfect pet.'

*The Dogs' Trust is the UK's largest dog welfare charity and cares for more than 16,000 stray and abandoned dogs every year. To re-home Jack visit www.dogstrust.org.uk

source: dailymail

Caught on CCTV: Culprit who stole 39 goldfish from garden pond is unmasked as an OTTER


The otter runs around the pond, which is firmly covered with the plastic net, looking for a way in

A retired couple who set up CCTV cameras in their garden to catch the mystery predator which was eating their goldfish finally discovered it was a hungry otter.

Pensioners Elizabeth and Harry McDougall were devestated to find their collection of 27 goldfish, in two ponds in their garden in Carlisle, had been wiped out.

All that remained after the night-time attack were fins and scraps of skin.

Sneak thief: The hungry otter, below right, appears by the side of the pond and first sees the plastic mesh

The couple restocked the ponds and fitted a strong plastic mesh, installing CCTV to try to find the culprit.

Three weeks later, the predator struck again, killing all 12 of Mrs McDougall's new fish.

This time the CCTV recorded the incident on camera and now the couple have released the footage to show the thief at work.

source: dailymail

Two women Cotswolds villagers 'organised illegal dogfights and starved their bull terriers to make them bloodthirsty'


Caged: The dogs were kept in squalid conditions in between fights

Members of a dog-fighting ring today admitted starving bull terriers to make them more bloodthirsty.

Two women and two men are accused of chaining dogs to treadmills - often in complete darkness - and forcing them to run for hours to lose weight.

The dogs were kept in squalid conditions and were so starved of food that one ate its collar to satisfy the hunger pangs, while another ate its own faeces.

Defendants: Both Danny Draper, left, and his father Ian have pleaded guilty to multiple charges of animal cruelty

Once fighting fit, the dogs were forced into brutal bouts watched by baying punters which could last for up to 40 minutes and often resulted in permanent deformities or death.

Today the four defendants pleaded guilty to a string of animal cruelty and dog fighting charges at Swindon Magistrates Court.

Treadmill: The dogs were chained to exercise machines and forced to run for hours

Ian Draper, 47, and his son Danny Draper, 25, admitted keeping six dogs in terrible conditions and using them for fighting.

Katy Davies, 33, admitted aiding and abetting her partner Ian Draper and Danny's girlfriend Laura Hornsby, 24, admitted causing unnecessary suffering.

Danny Draper pleaded guilty to five charges including possession of items in connection with an animal fight, while his father pleaded guilty to seven charges.

Ian Draper was given a three-month custodial sentence in 2006 for similar offences, and was serving a ten-year ban on keeping animals at the time of the offences.

Davies and Hornsby have also pleaded guilty in relation to the incident.
The two-day sentencing hearing continues tomorrow.

source: dailymail

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mother love: The moment a 200lb gorilla cradles her newborn baby seconds after giving birth

By Daily Mail Reporter

Furry much in love: Salome cradling her newborn gorilla baby, still wet seconds after being born at Bristol Zoo Gardens yesterday. The baby's father Jock, is also bonding with the new arrival

She may be huge, but this gorilla mother is just as capable of showing how tenderly she treats a newborn as any other mother.

The first picture of the new arrival at Bristol Zoo reveals 200lb gorilla Salome showing her affection for her newborn seconds after giving birth.

The tiny western lowland gorilla, still wet only seconds after being born, sleeps in his mother's arms while she looks every bit the adoring mother.

Born at lunchtime yesterday, the gorilla baby is the latest addition to an international conservation breeding programme set up to protect this critically endangered species.

Both mother and baby appear to be doing well, and the Gorilla House has been closed to allow the gorillas, including the newborn's father Jock, time to bond with the new arrival.

But the youngster has yet to be named, as staff still do not know whether it is a girl or a boy.

Bristol Zoo's senior curator of animals, John Partridge, said,

'Salome keeps the baby very close and we are keen to give the gorillas space, therefore it is still too early to determine the sex of the baby.

He added, 'We are thrilled with the arrival of a baby gorilla.

'It is still very early days, but Salome is a great mother and has been cradling and cuddling her baby affectionately.

I only have eyes for you: Hours later Salome is still cuddling her new baby, which is starting to open its eyes

Snoozy does it: All this mothering is a tiring business. Salome manages to get a few minutes shut eye while the baby nestles in close

You still there? Mummy strokes her baby gently with one finger while she takes the opportunity to rest in the straw bedding
'We are pleased to say that both Salome and the baby are doing well.

'Naturally the gorilla keepers will keep a very close eye on mother and baby in these crucial first few days and weeks to ensure that they, along with the rest of the gorilla group, are healthy, content and bonding well.'

This is the third baby Salome has had at Bristol Zoo. Her last baby, Komale, was born in December 2006 following a course of ground-breaking fertility treatment, pioneered by Bristol Zoo’s former head vet, Sharon Redrobe.

This time however, Salome conceived her baby naturally.

Gentle giant: Salome takes her tiny new addition outside for some fresh air while it clings on to her

Gorilla Island: The island where Bristol Zoo's gorillas are kept, and where the newest arrival was born

As well as Salome and her baby, Bristol Zoo Gardens is also home to silverback Jock; Namoki, six; Komale, four; Kera; seven and Romina, the Zoo’s other adult female gorilla, famous for undergoing the first ever cataract operation performed in Europe on an adult gorilla.

This year Bristol Zoo celebrates its 175th birthday and is participating in the European Zoo Association’s Ape Campaign, which aims to raise funds and awareness of the threats facing gorillas in the wild.

The gorillas at Bristol Zoo are part of an international conservation breeding programme for the western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species.


In the heart of a stampede: Amazing images capture herds of animals as they rampage OVER photographer

By Wil Longbottom

Worms' eye view: These images were captured by Chris Weston who dug a 4ft deep trench in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, to capture wildebeest as they stampeded

This is the moment a wildlife photographer comes face to face with a stampeding herd of wildebeest as they trample OVER him.

This amazing series of images was captured by Chris Weston, who dug a 4ft ditch in the rampaging animals' path in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Covering the trench with railway sleepers, he lay underneath for seven hours awaiting the stampede.

And when it finally came he had just seconds to get his shots before the stampede passed over him and off into the distance.

Mr Weston, who quit his job as an IT salesman 11 years ago to travel the world taking wildlife photographs, said: 'They were literally running over the top of me.

'Their hooves were inches away from the end of my camera lens.

'The stampede was part of a game capture exercise, where wildlife was being relocated from one game reserve to a new one in Zimbabwe, so I knew it was happening that day.

'The sound of the stampede so close was deafening and dust and debris were flying everywhere. After they had passed, it took almost a whole minute before I could breathe again due to the dust in the pit.'

On the hoof: A marauding zebra hurtles past inches from Mr Weston's camera lens as he snaps away

Unique angle: This herd of around 100 impala also ran over Mr Weston's hiding place, sending showers of dirt and dust into the hole

The images, which show more than 100 wildebeest, 30 zebras and 100 impala hurtling through the game reserve, were taken last summer.

Mr Weston, from Weymouth in Dorset, decided to get in the thick of the action after watching a wildebeest migration from a distance.

The 44-year-old added: 'It was something that occurred to me when I was watching the annual wildebeest migration.

'All I kept thinking was "what would it be like to be in the midst of such a large herd of animals?"

'Initially I tried remote cameras but I could never get them in the right place.'

'Deafening': Mr Weston, 44, came up with the idea for his pictures after watching wildebeest stampede from a distance

A team of locals helped to dig the pit after he came up with the idea.

The images will form part of a book Mr Weston is writing titled Animals on Edge, due out later this year.


Whoops! Kingfisher diving for her lunch misses her minnow and ends up with a pebble

By Sara Nelson

Splash! The kingfisher plunges into the stream but just misses her minnow, biting down on a pebble instead

Plunging into a stream, this hungry kingfisher had her lunch firmly in her sights - but veered off course at the last moment, missing her minnow by a whisker and grabbing a pebble instead.

The orange and turquoise bird was left empty-handed after the speedy fish darted off and evaded capture.

But the common kingfisher - thought to be a female less than one-year-old - returned immediately and did get a meal.

Photographer Tony Flashman has spent ten hours a week at the stream, near his home in Deal, Kent, for the past 18 months.

The 54-year-old sits in his hide watching the kingfishers as they sit on their perch, fly and fish.

He said: 'This bird mis-timed its dive and missed the fish. It ended up picking up a small pebble that was nearby instead.

'It would have noticed its mistake pretty quickly when it went to bite into it and was met with a tough surface rather than something squidgy.

Still hungry: Unthwarted the bird plunged back into the water and snatched up her dinner

'The bird dropped the pebble before it emerged from the water.

'Kingfishers are extremely good at fishing and it is rare for them to miss.

'I spend hours at a time in my hide watching these spectacular birds. They are so enchanting.

'I have to be incredibly patient and alert at all times so I do not miss the best photographs.

'My camera can take nine frames a second and in that time the bird can leave its perch, dive into the water and leave with a fish.

'To get the timing right and get these photos is very difficult. I have taken hundreds of photos to get good one like these.'

Tony, who works in a team alongside photographers Mike Vurley and Rob McEwan, added: 'Sadly, the common kingfisher is getting rarer.'

Coming up for air: The bird had returned to the surface empty-handed before making a second, successful dive


On me 'ead son: Four-day-old tortoise is riding high as he hitches a lift with mother

By Chris Parsons

Ahead of the game: One of the 5.5cm babies rests in the sunshine on its mother's head

When you're less than 6cm long and only four days old, you can't be blamed for hitching a ride with your parents.

That was certainly the case for this tiny tortoise, which took the chance of a free lift after being placed on its mother's head at Nyiregyhaza Animal Park in Hungary.

The adorable African spurred tortoise was one of eight babies born at the park 226km east of Budapest last week.

Slowly does it: The mother tortoise starts off with her four-day old youngsters riding on her shell

The 5.5cm baby, Geochelone sulcata, who only weighs 25 grams, and its seven siblings are the first African spurred tortoises born at the zoo.

The eight babies had hatched after 115 days, but clearly look like they still need a bit of help getting around.

The spurred tortoise is the largest species of land tortoise in Africa, with the weight of an adult animal sometimes reaching 80kgs.

African spurred tortoises are the third-largest species in the world, behind the Galapagos tortoise and the Aldabra giant tortoise.

Their lifespan is between 30 and 50 years, with the oldest one in captivity thought to have survived to 54.

No head for heights? The baby tortoise appears to have disappeared into its shell after being given a front row seat for the journey

Small wonders: But the baby African spurred tortoises could grow to up to 80 or 90kg as adults


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