HANGING in my gallery in Thixendale is a new painting of a female kestrel, posing proudly at the entrance to her nest. I was inspired to paint this bird’s portrait after following her on my wildlife cameras and becoming impressed by her courage.

A relatively young bird, she spent this year’s breeding season tirelessly defending this nest from other birds. It began when a jackdaw tried to take the nest. The kestrel was swift to react, squawking angrily and leaping at the bird, talons poised for attack.

I watched on the live screens in my art studio as she returned to her nest, plumped up her feathers and determinedly dug a shallow scrape into the bottom of the nest.

This small depression is all that a kestrel will do in preparation for the eggs that soon followed. But shortly after she had laid her first egg, a tawny owl entered the box. I watched horrified as the tawny flew straight at the kestrel, ignoring her warning screeches.

The kestrel braced her wings against the sides of the nest entrance to try to prevent the owl from entering, but it barged past her and they duelled right on top of the kestrel’s only, precious egg.

The female kestrel evicted this intruder - digging her long talons into the owl’s back and screeching at it as it flew off - but I was worried the egg would not hatch out after such a rumble.

Sadly the tawny owl continued to harass the kestrel, night after night, and before long the stress was beginning to show on the incubating falcon.

Although she laid a further two eggs in the box, she began to spend more and more time away from her clutch and it wasn’t long before I spotted her on another camera inspecting a second potential nest site.

One time while she was away from her clutch, a jackdaw raided the nest, cracked open one of her eggs with its beak and started eating the contents.

The male kestrel returned and quickly chased the jackdaw off before it destroyed the rest of the clutch. But it was heart-breaking to watch on the screens as he inspected the broken egg.

Carefully, he removed the pieces of eggshell from the nest. Kestrels will discard broken eggs to keep the nest clean and reduce the risk of infection.

Despite these two tragedies the female kestrel continued to lay another three beautiful, speckled eggs, each appearing at two day intervals.

But her battle to protect her nest continued. Tawny owls are well known for their territorial disputes, and this one was a bully and yet another egg was lost when it again forced its way into the nest.

In the scuffle, the tawny owl dragged the female kestrel screeching and I was afraid the eggs would get cold. Thankfully she returned and both kestrels bravely continued to share the job of incubating their clutch of, now five, eggs.

I felt very proud of them for carrying on, where many birds by now would have abandoned this nest and found somewhere safer.

I went on to watch on the screens in my studio as all five of the remaining eggs successfully hatched. It was so exciting to see the first chick emerge, its down still wet and eyes barely open.

This female turned out to be an excellent mother. She was very patient, always feeding each chick in turn, making sure not to exclude the weaker ones. At times, however, her inexperience showed through - once I watched her actually topple over as she tried to fit all five chicks under her breast.

The male helped out, bringing in a wide variety of prey, including, unusually, lizard - which is a protein-packed treat for a growing kestrel family. He too is clearly a new dad and the first time I saw him brood the chicks he was very unsure of himself, all ‘talons and thumbs’ as he worked out what to do.

All five kestrel chicks grew fast under the care of their doting parents and within a week had turned from helpless creatures unable to hold up their heads to a noisy rabble squabbling over food.

As I watch them now, just fledged, practising their flights in the trees near my art studio, I think back to how lucky they are that their mother carried on in spite of all the attacks on the nest she endured. And I hope I have captured some of her courageous character in her portrait.

Robert’s gallery in Thixendale is currently open by appointment. To book a free private viewing to see the kestrel portrait inspired by this story and to watch live cameras visit robertefuller.com