Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

All posts for 2017 are now filled. Paid and voluntary positions for 2018 will be posted on the website after the end of the current season, usually in December or January. The voluntary positions available in 2018 are likely to be similar to those listed below for 2017.

Voluntary positions at FIBO

The following voluntary positions were available at FIBO in 2017:

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.

18th April – 9th May

The main activities during this time are likely to be practical: trap repairs, stile repairs, weeding and planting, work around the Obs, etc. There will also be monitoring work (eg waders and landbirds including ‘Fair Isle Wren’) and the possibility to help with census and some ringing.

1st – 29th July

Seabird work comes to the fore during this time, with visits to colonies, ringing (including Storm Petrels) and monitoring all likely to be major parts of the role. 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 – 9th 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. 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.

There is also the opportunity for cover for the Ranger's annual leave during this period, this would suit someone who can drive, as picking up and dropping of guests from the airstrip is part of the role, along with leading guided walks, talks, kids events etc.

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

17th April – 3rd November (minimum stay three 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

11th May – 29th July (minimum stay two weeks)

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.