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Birdwatch job queries from India and NZ

ALMOST 80 hopefuls from as far away as New Zealand and India have applied for two jobs to spend the summer monitoring seabirds on a remote island off north county Dublin.

A total of 76 "serious" applications were received by Birdwatch Ireland by noon yesterday in response to its ads seeking candidates willing to spend the summer dodging bird droppings on Rockabill Island off the coast of Skerries as part of its tern monitoring programme.

The two tiny islands of Rock and The Bill is home to Europe's largest population of Roseate Terns, which now number 1,200 pairs, as well as 2,000 pairs of common terns and several hundred pairs of Arctic terns.


The successful applicants will spend May to August monitoring the terns during their crucial mating season before they migrate to north Africa in September, Birdwatch Ireland Development Officer Niall Hatch told the Herald.

They will be housed in the former lighthouse keeper's quarters on the island, complete with a library and other amenities, not to mention stunning sea views and panoramic views of the pretty seaside communities of Skerries and Loughshinny 8km away.

But the job is not for the faint-hearted. The rocky islands measure a mere two acres and the wardens will be expected to spend their working time living on the island with only themselves, the birds and the occasional visiting scientist for company as visitors are strictly prohibited during mating season to protect the tern's nests.

They will also be kitted out with special soft-padded caps to protect them from the constant barrage of bird droppings from the sky, he added.

"You're dive-bombed constantly," he said.

"It takes a special kind of person," he added.

The pay is €400 a week, although food and accommodation is provided. Volunteers will also be drafted as needed to give the wardens respite.

The island isn't big enough to accommodate candidates who may have a "personality clash" so a vital part of the selection process is to ensure that the successful wardens get along, he added.

"It wouldn't be much fun to be stuck out there with people you hated," he said.


But the majority of applicants are biologists or people with backgrounds in conservation or environmental science or an interest in bird watching, who are naturally like-minded, he added.

And while the job isn't glamourous and could be a bit lonely, he described it as "a feather in the cap" for anyone interested in conservation.

"When the sun is shining there and the weather is nice, it's gorgeous out there," he said.