Fidra Island Habitat Maintenance Worker

Wednesday 18 November 2020
Vacancy type:
Practical conservation
Fidra Islane, c/o Vane Farm

What we're looking for

We are looking for a volunteer who is enthusiastic about being outdoors and interested in helping conserve the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) colony on Fidra Island. There has been a large puffin population decline over much of Europe and in the UK the puffin is included on the Red list of UK Birds of Conservation after being listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The main threats towards puffins are declines in the small fish they feed on, as well as other hazards including mammalian predators, invasive species and pollution. Tree mallow is a plant which was introduced to the Forth 300 years ago by humans to be used as antiseptic poultices and even toilet paper! However, over the last 20-30 years, tree mallow has become very invasive across the Forth Islands, creating large dominant stands of the plant which prevent seabirds, including the puffins, from nesting causing declines in important populations across the Forth. Since 2011 volunteers and work parties have been helping to tackle the problem by removing the tree mallow on Fidra before it sets seed. Fantastic progress has been made over the years as natural vegetation is recovering and puffins are nesting with less interference from the tree mallow, but it is an ongoing battle. Therefore, we would love for you to help the RSPB conserve our local puffin colony on Fidra Island by maintaining the tree mallow growth through cutting it down when the puffins are out to sea, preparing a welcoming nesting ground upon their return in the Spring.

The skills you need

We welcome anyone with a positive, hard-working attitude who is capable of physical work and comfortable with being outdoors for extended periods of time and getting on and off boats. No prior experience is required. To give you an idea with what will be involved here is an average day: • Meet outside at North Berwick Harbour (behind Seabird Centre) • All aboard a small local fishing boat called Braveheart, there are a few slippery steps involved. Don't forget your waterproofs as it can get wet from the sea spray as the boat is uncovered. • The boat takes around 15minutes (depending on winds) to reach Fidra Island and throughout the journey enjoy the views of the surrounding islands, local seabirds and seals. • Clamber onto Fidra Island and wave goodbye to our boat who will collect us again at the end of the day. • Set up at a meeting point and hand out tools (secateurs, shears and gloves), go over any further information and training if required. • Select an area you would like to work at on the island and start cutting! • We usually meet up at an arranged time for lunch/tea/coffee break (bring your own). • Cut some more. • Then pack up our things ready to aboard the boat again. Further Information • There are no facilities on the island so please use the toilet before we leave and if you do need, be prepared to go outdoors! • There is a reduced number of bodies working on the Island and we work independently in-line with Covid Guidance. •Risk assessment has been carried out and approved by RSPB Scotland.

Your time

At least 1 day of 5 hours each a month but preferably 2 days. This can be flexible and must be prepared for last minute changes due to weather and tidal conditions.
November - March

What's in it for you?

You will be working on a beautiful, remote, nature reserve off the coast of North Berwick in the estuary of the Firth of Forth with stunning coastal scenery and wildlife to enjoy. The island is now uninhabited and can be difficult for visitors to land on, therefore, it is a great opportunity to explore Fidra Island. By joining our small and friendly team of staff and volunteers, your help keep the puffin population stable on Fidra, therefore your role is crucial to the conservation of a Red Listed Species in the UK. You will have a dedicated line manager who will be with you every step of the way and will give you a full site induction and training. The RSPB is an active and exciting conservation charity, the largest in Europe, and you could be a part of its wider movement by helping locally! We can help you gain skills and give you a valuable insight into our work as we provide several training opportunities for all our volunteers. You will be reimbursed for any travel expenses (up to 25 miles) and all equipment and PPE required will be provided.

How to apply


Robyn Shaw, Skinflats, c/o Central Scotland Reserves
Tel: 01324 832853
Email: Robyn.Shaw@RSPB.ORG.UK


Appropriate training will be provided, and expenses will be reimbursed where necessary. The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. We rely upon memberships and donations to fund our work. By volunteering your time and skills, you could make a real difference to the work of the RSPB. Nature is amazing – help us keep it that way. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion statement

Reference number 9272