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Senior Research Assistant - Willow Tit Monitoring (Fixed-Term)

Reference: NOV20218491
Expiry date: 23:59, 12 December 2021
Location: Flexible in Midlands
Salary: £22,986.00 - £25,500.00 Per Annum
Benefits: Pension, Life Assurance, 26 days Annual Leave (pro-rata)
Duration:7 months
Attachments: CandidateGuidanceNotes.pdf
As one of the UK's most rapidly declining species, Willow Tits have already been lost from many areas. We are looking for someone with great bird and plant identification skills to collect field data for a project looking at whether habitat manipulation can help maintain and increase Willow Tits in some of their remaining strongholds.

About the role

Back in 2015/16 RSPB and Natural England began a research project to investigate the benefits of a variety of habitat manipulations expected to improve conditions for the rapidly declining Willow Tit. Eleven pairs of sites across Derbyshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire were selected and at one of each pair, habitat management designed to create or improve conditions for Willow Tits was undertaken. Baseline surveys were carried out and now that the habitat has had time to mature, we intend to repeat the surveys to see whether the manipulations have worked as intended and whether this has benefitted local Willow Tits. Monitoring of birds will be undertaken by call-back surveys at all sites during the pre-breeding and breeding season and you will be expected to be competent in identifying Willow Tits and other confusion species by both sight and calls. A wide variety of habitat data will be collected at both study and control sites and previous experience of conducting habitat surveys will be beneficial, as will the ability to identify common tree and shrub species.

As Senior Research Assistant you will be responsible for all aspects of the project from planning of fieldwork timetables to data collection, data entry and the day-to-day running of the project. You will need to maintain good relations with land managers and their staff, as most of the sites are on private land and there will be a need to arrange permission for access. As well as land managers you will be expected to liaise with RSPB colleagues in the regions where you are working and to act as an ambassador for the RSPB in day to day encounters with the public.

This position will be home-based and require a significant amount of lone working, outdoors, sometimes in poor weather conditions and will likely involve early morning starts and some weekend work. You will need to be self-reliant and responsible with regard to your own health and safety and capable of walking long distances, sometimes over rough terrain. Some overnight stays away from home are likely to be required.   

Essential skills, knowledge and experience:
  • A degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent experience.
  • Broad knowledge of UK conservation issues and practice gained through involvement in scientific projects.
  • Knowledge of species ecology and ecological principles, particularly for woodland birds. 
  • Knowledge of licensing and regulations surrounding fieldwork e.g. protected species and habitats, Schedule 1 species disturbance etc.
  • Demonstrable practical field skills including excellent bird identification by sight and calls and a good botanical knowledge of woodland/scrub vegetation.
  • Experience of relevant research and survey techniques.
  • Self-reliant, self motivated and an ability to use own initiative to solve day to day problems.
  • Ability to work outdoors, alone for prolonged periods in all weather and sometimes over rough terrain.
  • Accurately record data in the field and collate and maintain electronic databases as required, skilled in the use of Microsoft Office applications.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills to develop and maintain good relations with land managers, colleagues and members of the public.
  • Ability to travel widely in areas not served by public transport. 
Desirable skills, knowledge and experience:
  • Experience of using GIS and statistical software (e.g. ArcGIS, R) 
  • Experience/knowledge of woodland management practices
This is a Contract, Full Time role for 7 months. 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.

Please note that this role will be home-based, and the study sites are spread over 3 counties, so the successful candidate can be based remotely within the North Midlands.

We are looking to conduct interviews for this position from 16th December 2021. For further information please contact

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.