Montagu’s Harrier Volunteer Coordinator and Surveyor

Why we want you

As part of the RSPB’s Saving Nature Scheme, we are looking for an enthusiastic and organised person to both coordinate the activities of survey volunteers and take part in surveys and protection activities of Montagu’s Harriers in East Anglia throughout the season (April to August).

The Montagu’s Harrier is the rarest breeding raptor in the UK, visiting the UK in the summer and migrating to West Africa over winter. The UK population of Montagu’s Harriers appear to be in decline with breeding success variable year to year, and its status is precarious with each pair needing special protection.  Montagu’s Harriers nest on the ground, often on arable farm land.  This can result in unintentional nest destruction by land owners during harvest operations, and the risk of predation by mammals and other bird species. Low level persecution is also suspected, with adult birds vanishing on three occasions in recent years, so the RSPB continues to closely monitor these birds.   The on-going success of Montagu’s Harriers is therefore reliant on the continued efforts of RSPB staff, volunteers, farmers & landowners to protect nests and ensure the population continues to remain at a sustainable level.

Both home and field based, your role will be to function as the central point for volunteer surveyors throughout the season; supporting the recruitment and training of new volunteers; managing volunteer hours and expenses records; tracking Montagu’s movements through Bird Track and other alert systems, and coordinating surveyors to validate sightings; and ensuring effective communication between the volunteer team and RSPB Montagu’s Harrier Project staff.  As a surveyor, you will participate in locating, monitoring and protecting Montagu’s Harriers, trained by regional RSPB teams.

What’s in it for you?

As an RSPB volunteer you are part of something big – a team of amazing and dedicated people who donate their time, energy, talent and skills to help birds and other wildlife.

Your role will make a significant contribution to the conservation and safeguarding of these rare and beautiful protected species.  You will learn how to manage and develop a small volunteer team, develop your survey and bird tracking skills, learn more about Montagu’s Harriers and is a great excuse to go bird watching!   Full training and support from experienced RSPB staff will be provided.

As the largest conservation charity in Europe, the RSPB can help you gain skills, meet a range of like minded people and make new friends, and give you a valuable insight into our work. Your support will help to make a genuine contribution to wildlife conservation.

The skills you need

You will  need good organisational and communication skills, and an ability to inspire others as part of a small team.

You will need to be able to identify all three British harrier species, often at a distance using optical equipment, with experience of Montagu’s Harrier behaviour an advantage.  Searching for and surveying these birds requires patience and time, sometimes with limited results, given their rarity.  However, we hope to give you as many opportunities as possible to observe Montagu’s, and may need you to respond quickly should we need to protect nests and young during farm operations.

Experience in bird tracking systems is desirable.  An ability to be discrete with sensitive information and to use tact and diplomacy is essential.   Having a vehicle for transport/shelter is essential.

Your time

Minimum commitment: Average two days per week throughout the summer season (late April – September), with possibly 3 days from Late April to mid-May, when the birds are pairing up and settling. There will be 1-2 days between January and March for RSPB volunteer training. RSPB staff will provide support and advice throughout the season, and we are flexible to booked holidays.

Duration: Ongoing, preferably a commitment over several years.

Who to contact?

Sarah Gelpke, Saving Nature Scheme Project Officer

Tel: 07703470713



A full driving licence and access to a vehicle is essential for surveying in a specific area which will be agreed in advance, based on personal circumstances of the volunteer and where the survey need is greatest.  There will be occasional travel for volunteer training and meetings. Occasional weekend or evening working may be required. Appropriate training will be provided and out-of-pocket expenses will be reimbursed.

The RSPB is the largest European charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and wildlife, helping to create a better world for all of us. It relies on the support and generosity of

volunteers to make a difference.  We belong to BirdLife International, the global partnership of bird conservation organisations. Your time and skills could make a real difference to the work of the RSPB and it would be great if you could join us.


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