EACH spring I look forward to the first wild bird eggs as they are laid live on screens in my gallery. This year I’ve scored a hat trick with kestrels, barn owls and tawny owls laying a record 12 eggs between them.

So far it’s been a dramatic journey. It began as the three species vied for the best nesting sites in my garden.

The tawny owls were the heavyweights of the bunch, monopolising as many nest boxes as possible. They got in on the act early, colonising boxes from early January.

Meanwhile, the barn owls were indecisive. They had the option of a purpose-built tower box or an elm stump converted into a nest box located further down the valley.

The male barn owl led the house hunt, calling his mate into each box nightly with a screech. He would then scratch out a “feature” nest scrape into the floor of the box, as if dressing a room in a show home.

This year he went a little over the top with his “staging”, re-digging this nest scrape to the point that it looked deep enough to accommodate an eagle owl.

The female, dismayed at his over-exuberance, had to pull the shredded pellets and wood chips that lined the bottom of this box back into the chasm to make a hollow more fit for her delicate form.

By March, the birds appeared to have made their final choices. The barn owls seemed settled in Elm Stump, the kestrels in Sycamore Stump and the tawny owls in Beech Stump.

But one morning I switched the TV monitors on to find a barn owl in the kestrel nest. The female kestrel was perched on the rim glaring in at the owl and screeching. The male kestrel, alerted by her screams, flew in and positioned itself on top of the box.

Then the female kestrel entered the box - a dangerous move, as both owl and kestrel are equipped with super-sharp talons. Barn owls have larger feet and a longer reach, but kestrels are small and ferocious, like terriers.

After a scuffle, the barn owl was evicted. These clashes continued for several days, with the kestrels ejecting the barn owls every time. Then the story took another twist. The female tawny owl began to look unwell. She lay down; her body flattened and limp on the nest floor.

At first, I thought she was egg bound. Her eggs were due any day. I feared the worst.

But that night she stood up. The following day, she wasn’t in the nest box.

The cameras located her in Ash Stump. She was opening and closing her beak as if gasping for air. I wondered if instead her weakness was due to Frounce, a yeast infection of the digestive tract. If she survived at all, I doubted there would be any tawny eggs this year.

Meanwhile, the barn owls were still flitting between boxes. It was anyone’s guess where they might lay.

And the kestrels, after battling so hard to win ownership of Sycamore Stump, seemed disenchanted with it now that it was theirs.

Then the cameras showed the female barn owl heaving, her tail lifted, as though her contractions were underway. Sure enough, when she stood up she revealed a pure white egg.

She immediately sat back down on the egg. Owls incubate their eggs from the moment the first is laid. The barn owl went on to lay a further three eggs at two or three day intervals.

Then I noticed the male kestrel employing a new tactic. He lured the female into Sycamore Stump with the offer of food and began body-bobbing, as though begging her to join him. A few days later the female had laid in his box of choice.

It was fascinating to see how she pushed each egg out, flicking her tail up and down and pumping her wings. Kestrels usually lay three to seven reddish brown eggs every two days. This female pushed out six.

Meanwhile at Beech Stump, the female tawny owl had not only made a full recovery but had actually laid a large white egg.

She stood up tall, fluffed out her feathers and sat down, majestically, to brood. Her eyes closed, she pointed her beak skyward. I can honestly say I have never seen such a happy bird of prey.

As her mate came into the nest, she filled her throat pouch with air, threw her head back and let out a heart-warming, choked up squawk, as if to say ‘look, we’ve done it!’ She went on to lay three eggs.

These owl and kestrel eggs are expected to hatch any day. See the chicks live on screens in Robert’s gallery in Thixendale, open weekdays from 9.30am to 4.30pm and weekends, from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Also follow the highlights on his blog robertefuller.com/acatalog/Nest-Camera