THIS autumn a birdwatching friend sent me photographs of a young peregrine falcon spotted at Spurn Point. The bird’s identification ring confirmed it had hatched from a nest at Salt End Chemical Park in Hull and was a falcon I had watched from the moment its egg was first laid. It was heartening to learn it was now living independently.

I followed this falcon’s day-to-day life on screens in my gallery in Thixendale via a mobile internet connection relaying the footage 32 miles away.

I had installed cameras inside and outside the peregrine nest box last autumn. In February the female adult arrived to inspect the nest box. Her mate followed her in and the two birds circled one another, pacing round the box and bowing their heads.

This behaviour was followed by the female scraping shallow dents into the gravel that lined the floor of the box. These indentations, or scrapes, are all that this bird of prey does in preparation for egg laying.

By mid-March the first egg arrived and over the following week the female laid another three eggs, before beginning the long task of incubation.

After 30 days she began looking at her eggs intently, turning her head to one side as if listening. She could clearly hear the sound of a chick calling inside, chipping at the shell. She paused and then nuzzled the egg with her beak a few times.

The following day the male came in to take a turn to incubate the eggs. But she refused to budge. He circled her a few times but she hunkered further down onto the eggs. Hatching is an important task and she clearly didn’t trust him to do the job properly.

Once the chicks hatched, the female, a powerful predator, turned gentle. As she gave them their first meals, she carefully tore off small pieces to feed each of the four tiny chicks in turn.

The young peregrine chicks grew fast on their protein-rich diet and by two weeks they were beginning to hold up their heads while their white down was developing a tinge of grey.

I wanted to get a closer look so I drove to Hull. As I climbed the steps to the nest, which is located 100ft up a grain silo, I was deafened by the roar of heavy industry below. It was incredible to think that these falcons have chosen to live in such a noisy place.

At the back of the nest box was a space just big enough for me and my cameras. Back in the autumn I had built a replica door for the back of the nest box and stuck a dummy lens, made out of an old yoghurt pot, onto the old door.

The idea was to get the peregrines used to the shape of a camera lens in the box before I replaced the door with my replica. The new door had a hole for my camera lens where the yoghurt pot had been.

Now I waited for the female to leave the nest to stretch her wings. Then I worked quickly, swiftly replacing the old door with the new before I pushed my camera. But the female swerved back to the nest and looked straight down my lens. Thankfully she was quickly distracted by her chicks chittering. I kept perfectly still, waiting until she had completely relaxed before I dared press my shutter button. She was only 18 inches away.

To my relief she barely reacted. I sat there for the next five hours transfixed. Below I could hear articulated trucks coming and going and huge machines humming.

Meanwhile, close by, was the quiet chittering of four young peregrine chicks. It was an incredible feeling to be just two feet away from a wild peregrine and it definitely ranks as one of those magical stand-out moments of my career.

And the incredible moments kept on coming. When the chicks were 42 days old I drove back to Hull in the hope of catching their first flights on camera. They had lost their soft downy feathers and were now flapping their wings to exercise their chest muscles. But by the time I arrived three chicks had already fledged. I watched as they piloted for the first time on the wing. It was a windy day, but they seemed to navigate the vast towers and columns of this industrial landscape with ease. Later in the afternoon the last chick fledged. It makes me proud to now to know that at least one of them is safe and well and making a new life at Spurn Point.

Robert’s artwork which includes paintings of the peregrine falcons at Salt End Chemical Plant is on exhibit at Nunnington Hall until November 3. See for more information.