Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Paid positions at FIBO in 2018

The following paid positions are available for the 2018 season:
The deadline for all applications is 9 a.m. on 28th February (please note that post can be slow to get to the island in the winter). The document can be emailed or scanned and emailed to fibo@btconnect.com.
We will aim to acknowledge receipt of applications, but please note that the Obs office is likely to be unstaffed from 2nd-19th February.
Telephone interviews will be held on 2nd and 3rd March and we will aim to inform candidates of the outcome by 6th March.


A keen, experienced birder is required to join the team responsible for census, ringing, seabird monitoring and working with visitors.
Download the job description and an application form.


The successful candidate will be responsible for ensuring that visitors to the island get the most out of their visit by arranging and implementing a wide range of activities. Several other responsibilities make this an interesting and diverse post and a great way to experience Fair Isle.
Download the job description and an application form.


The small domestic team is responsible for preparing rooms, cleaning the Obs and providing meals for everyone staying at the Obs. The domestic assistant will be required to do some food preparation and cleaning in the kitchen, but the main duties will be changing and cleaning guest bedrooms.
Download the job description and an application form.

Voluntary positions at FIBO

The following voluntary positions are available at FIBO in 2018:

All volunteering roles have food and accommodation (usually in a shared, single-sex room) provided at the Obs. Transport arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the volunteer. Wardening Team volunteers pay £14 a night to cover costs (but see the note below about the SABF and JHMF schemes). There are no accommodation charges for Domestic and Bar volunteers.

Wardening Team Volunteers

The following date ranges are provided as a rough guide to the different roles required during the year. Volunteers may apply for any range of dates from those listed, which may overlap the categories given below (note that we are unlikely to be able to take volunteers outside of those dates given). A minimum stay of two weeks is expected, there is no maximum length of stay that can be applied for. We usually take a maximum of two Wardening Team volunteers at any given time.

Volunteers are encouraged whether your aim is to build upon experience and knowledge you already have, or to pick up new skills, but it is advised that you choose the time of year to fit in with your expectations. It is important that volunteers fill in the application form in order that we can prepare work plans in advance to suit the skills of the team available.

A range of tasks (including domestic tasks, helping with guests, practical jobs around the Obs and data inputting) are common to all the volunteering roles.

1st – 31st July

Seabird work comes to the fore during this time, with monitoring and some ringing taking place, whilst Storm Petrel ringing can also be a major part of the work load. You will get to meet the island’s skuas close up (they can be quite aggressive defending their nests during monitoring visits) and old clothes are useful as visits to the seabird colonies can get dirty (and smelly!). It is also a good time for practical work, with ditch and pond digging, fence and trap repairs all likely to be needed at some stage. It is a busy time for visitors, so helping the Ranger with walks and events may also feature.

10th August – 14th September

During this time there is an increasing emphasis on census and ringing as autumn migration starts to pick up. We usually require volunteers to help cover staff leave and carry out census by themselves, so a good knowledge of birding is important for that role, although there will still be practical work for other volunteers. Previous experience of ringing can be helpful at this time of year, but is not essential. Assisting the Ranger with practical tasks such as stile repairs is often a part of the workload at this time of year.

For volunteers wanting to experience the Obs in the autumn but who do not feel confident enough to take on census by themselves, a mixed programme of accompanying the Wardens on census some days, interspersed with practical work (possibly including pond digging, trap repairs, fencing repairs etc) could be arranged.

See the website pages relating to the Simon Aspinall Bursary Fund and John Harrison Memorial Fund if you are under 25 and wish to volunteer as part of the Wardening team, as you qualify for a grant to help with travel costs.

Domestic Volunteer

1st - 31st July, 9th - 21st August (minumum stay two weeks)

A crucial part of the Domestic team, with duties including cleaning in the downstairs areas of the Obs and clearing and setting up of tables before and after meals, although you may have to turn your hand to a wide variety of other tasks as well! It is a busy role (working seven mornings a week, plus a few extra bits), but there is also plenty of time to enjoy the island and learn new skills or join in with other aspects of Obs work. An enjoyable way to really become part of the Obs team whilst experiencing Fair Isle life.

Bar Volunteer

1st June - 31st July (minimum stay two weeks), 9th - 31st August

This involves helping to run the Obs gift shop and small, friendly bar during the spring and summer. Most of the work is in the evening (with approximate hours of 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. six days a week), but at times there may be other tasks during the day (cleaning, unloading stock etc) and occasionally help may be required at the FIBO shop stand at the hall when cruise ships are visiting.

The bar vol may be able to help out with Wardening Team as well during the day if there are suitable opportunities, whilst it is a great role for anyone who has other interests to do with Fair Isle or island life (knitting etc) that they would like to pursue during the day.

If you are interested in any of the paid or voluntary positions at FIBO listed above, please download and complete the application form and return to fibo@btconnect.com no later than 9 a.m. on 28th February.