Night Warden for Little Terns

Wednesday 15 August 2018
Vacancy type:
Practical conservation
Various locations

What we're looking for

The Little Tern is one of the UK's rarest seabirds and has suffered chronic decline over the past 25 years. While populations have stabilised around the UK thanks to protection projects such as this, they are under more pressure now than ever before due to increased beach use, climate change, habitat loss and predation. Norfolk is a stronghold for little terns, holding 30% of the UK's breeding population during the summer months, and the numbers in the East Norfolk area make up one of the largest and most important colonies in the UK. The Winterton colony is monitored 24 hrs, 7 days a week. The main task for daytime volunteers is to talk to members of the public to prevent disturbance of the colony and take part in monitoring the birds. But little terns are also under threat at night, especially from predators. This is where we need your help. We are looking to recruit night-time volunteers to patrol the beach during the hours of darkness with high powered lights looking for predators, and deterring them from entering the colony. RSPB wardens will be on site overnight in two staggered shifts, from 8pm to 4 am and from 10pm to 6am, so you would not be alone! Ideally we would like to find volunteers willing to cover an eight hour shift alongside the warden, or at minimum a 4 hr shift. We are keen to find people who could actively take part throughout the breeding season (May to August), but we can adjust to fit your planned holidays. We would like to suggest a time commitment of at least one night/week, with a view to increasing this if you can manage to, and of course, the more you do the more you get out of it. It really is up to you and every little helps, so what time you are on site depends on your circumstances, preferences, and where need is greatest.

The skills you need

You will need to be at least 18 years old, fairly physically fit, resourceful and resilient. Ability to work as part of a team. Enthusiastic and interested in conservation and natural history. Be prepared to work for at least four hours at night in one go. Wardening operates during all weathers but we do have a hide for shelter and basic welfare facilities. Full training is provided through induction workshops, and one to one training is also delivered by RSPB staff for ongoing support throughout the season.

Your time

You can give as much or as little time as you like. Any time you can spare will be hugely appreciated and will help conserve little terns.
Early June to mid August each year

What's in it for you?

You will have the opportunity to see the beach and its wildlife at its most magical time, when human disturbance is at its least. In early morning shifts you will be there for the dawn chorus, and may even spot a seal or dolphin! You will learn more about the habits of this rare seabird, and about little tern ecology. The night shift will bring you in contact with other wildlife rarely seen during the day, so here is a chance to improve your knowledge about nocturnal species. You may have to remove hedgehogs from the colony and speak to the gamekeeper about levels of fox predation.

How to apply


Sarah Gelpke, Berney Marshes & Breydon Water
Tel: 01493 700645


Agreed upon volunteer transport expenses are available. A full driving licence and access to a vehicle is essential. The RSPB works for a healthy environment rich in birds and wildlife. It relies on the support and generosity of volunteers to make a difference. The RSPB is the UK charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and wildlife, helping to create a better world for all of us. We belong to BirdLife International, the global partnership of bird conservation organisations. 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.

Reference number 8570