Each season we invite four volunteers to come to Skokholm and help the Wardens manage the Island and monitor its wildlife. There are two positions running from 1st April 2018 until 30th June 2018 and two from 1st July 2018 until 30th September 2018.
Spring is a fantastic time to be on Skokholm.
Yes it can be cold and yes it can be wet, but suddenly there are signs everywhere that breeding seasons are fast approaching. Dark nights see the first of our 120,000 breeding Manx Shearwaters return to the Island and quickly the nights become a cacophony of whaling noises.
The first spring migrants begin to pass Skokholm and the Puffins return (from when our evenings are spent counting the large rafts which congregate around the Island). The Razorbills and Guillemots return to their cliff ledges and the gulls begin to lay their eggs. Days are spent counting the nesting seabirds and seeing how the totals fluctuate each day, nights are spent taking guests to see the phenomenal Storm Petrel colony at the Quarry and ringing Manx Shearwaters. Scarce plant monitoring and the morning census of migrant birds provide a break from the seabird monitoring.
Choughs are secretive around their nests and the staff thus find themselves hidden among the rocks to look for incubation changeovers. The Peregrines and Ravens are more straightforward, as is the mapping of the vocal Oystercatchers.
Much of our time is spent establishing study plots and, as the spring progresses, monitoring a sample of each breeding species; this will be the basis of our productivity estimates. All this, coupled with a long-term Puffin colour ringing study, a study of Manx Shearwater survival rates and the daily ringing of passage birds sees the staff flat out. Volunteers are also encouraged to run a personal project, be it moth trapping, plant surveys, hoverfly identification, butterfly transects, cetacean watches, or something we have not yet thought of.
Our second team of long-term volunteers pick up where the first team left off.
The productivity monitoring plots are established and the chicks have hatched, but we need to follow the progress of the Razorbill, Puffin and gull chicks to see if they fledge. A large amount of time early on in the period is spent playing Storm Petrel song along several transects, thus allowing an estimate of crevice occupancy to be made. The staff take turns during several 24 hour periods to assess how many of the Puffins arriving with fish lose their chick food to the gulls.
Many more visits are made to the Puffin study colony to try and see as many colour ring combinations as possible. Attention turns to the Manx Shearwaters in August with visits being made to our 223 study burrows to ring the chicks and monitor their development and fledging.
Autumn migration picks up pace as August progresses and the daily census begins to take longer as the number of birds lurking around the Island increases. If the pond has dried out then there could be several days of hard digging as we continue to remove the sediment which has built up over the decades. September is an exciting month and much time is spent in the field counting common migrant birds and searching for scarcer ones. Evenings are often spent ringing Manx Shearwater fledglings as they venture out onto the Lighthouse track. As with the first volunteer period, both of the successful applicants will be encouraged to take on a personal project.
This is a fantastic opportunity to work on one of Britain’s most spectacular Islands and to gain experience in a wide range of survey techniques. But it is not all about the monitoring work! The successful applicants will be integral to all aspects of Island management, from providing sanitation and clean visitor accommodation to helping with boat deliveries and physical management such as pond digging. Each volunteer has their own bedroom at the Farm and share the same facilities as our paying guests; we are thus looking for people who are happy to spend time with our guests and share their passion for the phenomenal things which inhabit Skokholm.
No qualifications or specific experience are required as training will be given on the Island, however candidates who are working towards a career in conservation are preferred. Additionally candidates who have previous volunteering experience, relevant qualifications such as a ringing permit or who are experienced birders will be well placed. We are looking for people with enthusiasm for UK wildlife who have a desire to learn and get involved in a range of tasks. Candidates must be of a hardy nature as working days can be long and in a range of weather conditions.
How to apply
Please fill in the application form explaining why you are interested in the post, what you could bring to it and what you hope to achieve from the position. No cover letters or CVs will be included as part of your application.
Applications must reach the below address by email or post by 12th February 2018.
Decisions will be made within the following two weeks and candidates short-listed for phone interviews will be contacted.
Please e-mail (or post) your application forms to:
Richard and Giselle
Email email@example.com or mail
Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales
Welsh Wildlife Centre
Cilgerran, Cardigan, SA43 2TB