Residential Volunteer - Practical Conservation


Mersehead, Dumfries & Galloway

Volunteer • Full Time

Sectors: conservation & wildlife, ecology

Closing date: Not specified, apply soon!

Available from 10/09/2022 to 24/02/2023

Where Mersehead, Dumfries & Galloway 

When: Early September 2022 to end February 2023 

Commitment: 5 days a week for 6 months

Why We Want You:

Would you like to wake up every morning and go to work on an incredible coastal reserve with amazing views across the Solway Firth and the Galloway hills? Are you passionate about nature conservation and helping visitors to have an amazing experience with nature? If so, Mersehead would love to hear from you!

Under RSPB management since 1993, Mersehead boasts a wide variety of habitats in breath-taking surroundings set adjacent to the wide expanses of intertidal sandflats on the Solway Firth, the large skies and seascapes give a feeling of escape with stunning views towards the Lakeland fells and the Isle of Man, Criffel and the Galloway hills shelter the reserve behind.

We are looking for enthusiastic residential volunteers to join our small, friendly team here at Mersehead to help with the delivery of both our practical and visitor experience work programmes. As a member of the RSPB Mersehead team you will become fully involved in all the work required to run a nature reserve. This will include wildlife surveys, practical habitat work, working shifts at the visitor centre – where you will enthuse the public through face to face engagement – assisting with events, managing day volunteers, maintaining infrastructure . . . . . . . . the list is endless! With such a variety of work required, every day is different. You will be hard working and prepared to get stuck in to whatever the day brings.

This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to wildlife conservation, bring people closer to nature and start a career in conservation. You will learn what it takes to run and manage a nature reserve, and will gain a valuable insight into Europe's largest conservation charity.

You will be living in our converted farmhouse in the heart of the reserve, becoming fully immersed in the life of RSPB Mersehead. Working alongside staff and volunteers you will gain a range of practical, wildlife survey and people engagement skills and experience.

Through the winter months you will learn how to count thousands of Svalbard Barnacle geese. The Natterjack toad, a European protected species and the UK's rarest amphibian, can only be found in Scotland along the Solway Estuary with the largest colony found at RSPB Mersehead. You will be involved in vital habitat preparation work ahead of their breeding season. You will learn how to conduct wetland bird surveys across the reserve, and assist with vital work to monitor and maintain the anti-predator fence for ground nesting birds, especially lapwings. Moth trapping and butterfly transects will improve your Lepidoptera skills.

Practical habitat work will be hard manual work, strimming and grass cutting, ragwort pulling, fencing, path building.

Enthusing and inspiring visitors about the wildlife they can see and experience at Mersehead, as well as the wider work of the RSPB, is equally as important as the practical work to create the spectacle. Therefore you should expect to spend some time contributing to our visitor experience operations, including working at the visitor centre and developing interpretation.

We run activities for children and families, as well as special events for adults, and you will be encouraged to take the opportunity to help in planning and delivering these.

We will provide support and coaching through on the job learning to enhance the skills and experiences you need to be successful in pursuing a nature conservation career.


We need someone who has an enthusiastic and friendly personality and is a good team player, keen to learn lots about conservation and wildlife. You must have good communication and people engagement skills with the confidence to talk to people from all walks of life.

You must be happy working outdoors in all weathers in what can be very challenging physical and repetitive work. Some weekend working may be necessary, but time off will be given during the week instead.

You must be over 18, and a full clean driving licence is essential as you must be able to drive the reserve's vehicles.

Good bird identification skills, an ability to use computers/software and some previous practical/people engagement experience would be beneficial but not essential. Most of all, you need enthusiasm and a passion for developing a conservation career.


This is a remote site so your own transport would be advantageous. Appropriate training will be provided and pre-arranged expenses will be re-imbursed where necessary.

For more information, contact:

Paul Radford

Tel: 07920 543 417

Email: [email protected]

Please apply as soon as possible.

Find out more & apply