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Research Assistant - Turtle Dove Tracking

Reference: FEB20212126
Expiry date: 23:59, 05 March 2021
Location: RSPB England - HQ
Salary: £17,004.00 - £18,255.00 Per Annum
Benefits: Pension, Annual Leave, Life Assurance
Duration:5 months

This is an opportunity to apply new GPS-tracking technologies to solve a long-standing conservation question: what are turtle doves feeding on and what can we do to fix an apparent shortage of food? The project will be based in Essex (Colchester area) and will study how turtle doves use habitats in and around two large conservation interventions (Turtle Dove Friendly Zones).

 What the role is about:

Turtle doves travel long distances to visit sparsely distributed feeding sites and then spend little time actually feeding. This has made it challenging for us to locate their foraging sites using traditional tracking methods. We believe that this may now be possible by using a combination of GPS logger tags and some lateral thought about how to retrieve the data stored on the tags. We aim to build a clearer picture of what feeding resources are used and test whether our conservation work is helping to provide them.

The role will involve working in a team of two (with a licensed tagging specialist) and liaising with local conservation staff and landowners.

The specific tasks for this role will be:

  • To set up and bait trapping sites ready for the return of turtle doves in May.
  • To help a specialist ringer trap and tag turtle doves.
  • To relocate tagged birds and download GPS fixes of their foraging sites (this will require innovative combinations of radiotracking, remote sensing devices and local information).
  • To measure the vegetation at foraging sites (to understand what makes them suitable).

What we need from you:

  • A relevant degree or equivalent experience.
  • Practical experience of fieldwork on farmland birds.
  • Practical experience of radiotracking.
  • A BTO or equivalent bird ringing license.
  • Knowledge of and adherence to legal and practical requirements on protected species and habitats and for ensuring own health and safety.
  • Ability to use own initiative to solve day-to-day problems in the field.
  • Willing and able to work flexible and long hours, be self-motivated and work efficiently within a defined work plan. Able to work positively and efficiently within a team.
  • Full driving licence valid for driving in the UK.
  • Good verbal communication skills to develop and maintain good relations with landowners and members of the public.
  • Skilled in the use of Microsoft office software (ArcGIS experience would also be desirable).

The role is full-time. Accommodation is not provided with the role, however, the project will aid successful candidates where possible in finding suitable accommodation.

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*We are actively recruiting for this role and reserve the right to pull this ad at any time.