I’VE devoted years to studying the ways different species bring up their broods for a new series of detailed paintings on exhibit at my gallery in Thixendale until June 25.

My new art show, “Bringing Up Baby”, includes paintings of a great crested grebe carrying its chick on its back, a mallard brooding her chicks, and a tiny reed warbler feeding a cuckoo chick more than twice its size. These new pictures are the result of intensive studies of animal parents in the wild.

I like to watch animals closely, following their individual stories from the moment they find a mate to the day that their offspring leave home. And some of the tales I’ve followed for this exhibition spin out like timeless family sagas.

Like the kestrel I discovered last year with two females. Kestrels are usually monogamous and I knew that this bird had a long-standing partner of almost 10 years.

But in recent years I’ve installed cameras into the nest boxes in my garden which has meant I’ve been able to watch the goings-on far more closely.

I noticed that this kestrel, who has been feeding in my garden for years and whom I have named Kes, was showing a second female around an empty nest box– despite the fact that his partner was already sitting on eggs in a separate box in the garden.

His mistress went on to lay a clutch of her own eggs and two-timing “Kes” wore himself out helping to brood both clutches. He ended up having to care for a total of 10 chicks.

My cameras offer a direct window into the secret world of animal families, from messy mealtimes to sibling rivalry and this year I’ve enjoyed some fantastic footage.

The barn owls nesting in one of the boxes have been particularly endearing to watch. They often find time amidst the graft of hunting and brooding their chicks to preen one another lovingly.

And last week the cameras captured the female barn owl taking a break from brooding. She must have been feeling a little cramped after sitting so long as she climbed off her clutch and walked across to the other side of the nest box to stretch.

First she lifted one leg, balancing carefully on the other, then the other leg, then she stretched her neck in a full circle and finally she lifted her wings high above her head for a really good stretch.

I also spend days out in the field watching wildlife from a hide, or patiently tracking animals with my camera. I once watched a pair of great crested grebes on a lake. These birds are very cautious parents and carry their tiny, striped, chicks on their back.

Other parents I’ve followed closely for this new art exhibition include a very devoted pair of tawny owls. These two were meticulously fair in the way they treated their young, feeding them in turn and making sure that each chick got its fair share of food.

They say that attentive parents bring up confident adults and tawny owlets can be a little over-confident. They are so adventurous they often end up falling out of their nests.

One year I had to rescue three owlets that had been caught in a downpour and were so wet their feathers had stuck together.

But on the whole the tawny pair here at my gallery have successfully raised a number of broods and they are surprisingly tolerant, letting them stay in this territory long after they have fledged and even bringing them to feed at my garden bird table.

By September, however, the tawny parents actively push the youngsters out of their territory and turn from attentive parents to aggressive, pushy ones. You can hear them screeching at them to shoo them away.

The strategy can seem a little cruel, but these young need to be off to establish their own territory before the next breeding season.

Visitors to my exhibition can enjoy the best of the footage I’ve collated alongside all my latest paintings, art prints and photography. Live video streamed from the surveillance cameras I’ve hidden in the nests of barn owls, tawny owls and kestrels will also be on show.

My exhibition runs at my gallery in Thixendale until June 25.