Beached Bird Surveyor - South West England

One day in February for the annual Beached Bird Survey plus optional involvement in any emergency Beached Bird Surveys organised in response to major incidents such as pollution or seabird wrecks.

Monday 14 January 2019
Vacancy type:
Surveying wildlife
Various locations

What we're looking for

This long running national survey - organised by the RSPB in England since 1971 - monitors trends in oil pollution affecting seabirds and beaches. Though the problem of 'chronic' oil pollution is less common nowadays, it still occurs and the annual late winter Beached Bird Survey is a proven way of monitoring how oil affects seabirds and beaches. Major pollution incidents also occur (eg, the Napoli oil spill in 2007 and the two PIB incidents in 2013) and large numbers of seabirds also die in periodic 'wrecks' due to prolonged bad weather (eg, early 2014). In these circumstances, RSPB organises emergency Beached Bird Surveys to assess impact on seabirds. The RSPB needs to increase its survey coverage – we have many accessible beaches without an allocated surveyor. Your local beach needs you! The survey involves walking the most recent high tide line (strandline) of an agreed stretch of accessible sandy or pebble beach to record accurately any evidence of pollution, such as oil, and the number and species of any 'beached' seabirds.

The skills you need

You'll need basic seabird identification skills including a familiarity with the winter plumage etc of some species. Can you tell a razorbill from a guillemot, a herring gull from a kittiwake, a shag from a cormorant? You'll need to be familiar with these and other bird species - such as gannets and oystercatchers - commonly encountered at sea or on shore. You'll need to be physically fit and mobile enough to access and walk along your allocated survey beach. The distance will vary, but we're probably talking about a maximum of 6km (3-4 miles) and back. What else? The ability to read an OS map to get grid references for your survey start and end points would be helpful. The beaches surveyed are typically those that attract families in summer and dog walkers in winter - so no rock climbing or scrambling involved! You might occasionally encounter dead (or live 'beached') birds - so you need to be prepared for this.

Your time

1 day per year for the annual Beached Bird Survey (Emergency Beached Bird Survey dependent on incident and surveyors' avaliablity)
One day on the last weekend in February

What's in it for you?

This is a great opportunity for you to participate in a simple but vitally important survey: you'll contribute valuable information to help conserve our marine environment while getting a healthy beach walk in at the same time!

How to apply


Natasha Laverick, South West England Regional Office
Tel: 01392 432691


Beached Bird Surveys do not involve the collection or treatment of any live, polluted birds you might find. Instead, we work closely with welfare organisations such as the RSPCA to do this. We are a conservation charity and don't have the expertise or resources to collect and treat live casualties. Your time and skills could make a real difference to the work of the RSPB and it would be great if you could join us. Interested? For more information, to register as an RSPB volunteer and be 'matched' with a beach, do get in contact! The RSPB is the UK charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and wildlife, helping to create a better world for us all. We belong to BirdLife International, the global partnership of bird conservation organisations.

Reference number 1705