RSPB • RSPB Northern Ireland

Curlew LIFE Research Assistant (RSPB Northern Ireland)

Employment type:  Contract
Salary:  £21622 - £23987 per annum

3–4 days/week at home

Fully flexible hours

Dog friendly

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Job Description

The Antrim Hills are one of Northern Irelands' last real biodiversity hot spots, holding important breeding numbers of Curlew, Snipe, and Hen Harrier. As part of this incredible team, you will be working to help save the rapidly declining Curlew population through hands-on conservation work; Breeding birds, habitat and predator surveys, nest finding, predator-proof fence erection, and brooding monitoring.

RSPB Northern Ireland is looking for an enthusiastic individual to monitor breeding waders and other species for a five-month post in the Antrim Hills. This is an amazing opportunity to be working at the forefront of Curlew conservation in one of the most stunning landscapes of Northern Ireland.

What's the role about?

Curlew and other breeding wader species in the UK have seen major population declines due to large-scale landscape changes throughout the 20th century which has resulted in habitat loss and increased generalist predator numbers. Northern Ireland Curlew specifically has declined by 82% since the 80s, with only an estimated 250 pairs left we are in a race against time to stabilise and reverse this population decline.

As part of a UK-wide project funded through the EU LIFE programme to halt the decline of Curlew, RSPB NI aims to deliver landscape-scale conservation at our two key research sites; Glenwherry and Lough Erne. This will include habitat management, predator control and research and monitoring.

Within the last two years, Glenwherry has established itself as a forefront in curlew conservation in the UK and Ireland. Producing enough chicks in the last two seasons to be optimistic that we might have turned the tides for this iconic species within the site.

Your role will be to collect data on the breeding ecology of Curlew. This will include mapping the distribution, abundance, and behaviour of breeding curlews and other moorland bird species, vegetation recording, and habitat assessments, assessing the abundance and distribution of key nest/chick predators (e.g. via fox scat surveys) and data entry. You will also be working along side the Conservation Officers to help provide more hands-on conservation work such as nest finding and erecting nest protection fences.

Key activities will include:

  • Conducting modified Brown and Shepherd breeding wader surveys.
  • Conducting vegetation surveys, habitat mapping and assessments.
  • Conducting predator scat surveys.
  • Data entry and upkeep.
  • Developing and upkeeping relationships with stake-holders and land-owners.

What we need from you


  • Relevant degree or equivalent work experience.
  • You will have working knowledge of upland wildlife and habitats and some experience in bird surveying.
  • Ability to identify a range of British birds by sight, specifically waders, birds of prey and farmland birds.
  • Ability to undertake demanding fieldwork in remote areas for long hours and in poor weather.
  • Ability to navigate using a map, compass and GPS.
  • Capable of keeping accurate and legible records of data collected in the field.
  • Practical experience of quantitative habitat surveys.
  • Full drivers’ licence and access to a vehicle for the duration of the contract.


  • Relevant degree.
  • Knowledge of conservation issues and practice, and conservation science.

Additional Information

The RSPB reserves the right to extend or make this role permanent without further advertising dependent on business needs at the end of the contract term.

We are looking to conduct interviews for this position from the 20th of February 2023. For further information please contact Katie Gibb; katie.gibb@rspb.org.uk

As part of this application process, you will be asked to complete an application form including evidence on how you meet the skills, knowledge, and experience listed above.

The RSPB is an equal opportunities employer. This role is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Before applying for this role, we recommend reading through the candidate guidance notes attached to the top of this advert.

Company benefits

Open to part-time employees
Open to compressed hours
Enhanced maternity leave
Enhanced paternity leave
Adoption leave
Shared parental leave
24 days annual leave + bank holidays
Enhanced sick pay

The FlexScore® is the result of a rigorous 2-step verification of a company’s flexibility

First we assess the flexibility options RSPB provides and then we anonymously survey a statistically significant proportion of their employees to make sure RSPB is as flexible as they say they are. Our assessment is based on the six key elements of flexibility: location, hours, autonomy, benefits, role modelling and work-life balance.

We ask the hard questions so you don’t have to.

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I feel the RSPB is very flexible and this is reflected through the Line Management chain - I know I have the flexibility on a daily basis to start early / finish late, if something crops up at home - I am very satisfied :)

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