Black Parrot Project Officer

Type: 
Paid
Closing date: 
20 Aug 2018
Section: 
VDM

The black parrot project officer provides crucial field and technical support to SIF’s Seychelles black parrot research programme and, for the 2018/2019 breeding season, ensures with the rest of the team, that rat control around black parrot nests is carried out, monitored and followed up. In this role you will assist, work with and report to the black parrot team leader on a daily basis in carrying out all black parrot nest monitoring activities. The role encompasses: field work (including black parrot nest locating, observations and checks, chick monitoring and bird ringing); ensuring that the data collection and management, and reporting is standardised and of high quality; and invasive alien species (IAS) control and careful monitoring of results.

The Vallée de Mai Science Coordinator (VSC) provides on-site oversight of the black parrot team and is responsible for collating and reporting the results from invasive species control including on black parrots. Overall supervision of both the black parrot and invasive species projects is by the Science and Projects Coordinator (SPC) and the Director of Research and Conservation (DRC) from SIF Head Office. The rules and regulations of the Vallée de Mai and SIF must be adhered to at all times.

Specific work duties:

Field work

The field work tasks for this position include:

  1. Cooperation and liaison with the black parrot team leader on all matters concerning the black parrot work programme, invasive species control and related activities and carrying out the monitoring as outlined in the black parrot protocols and as requested/approved by SPC;
  2. Carrying out pre-nesting season checks of all potential cavities and preparing any cavities categorised as suitable for potential nesting (e.g. fitting access hatch, raising floor of cavity);
  3. Conducting observations of black parrots and focal watches of cavities to confirm nesting activity and stage;
  4. Working with the rest of the team to find as many black parrot nests as possible in the study area (Vallée de Mai, surrounding Praslin National Park area including Fond Peper and Glacis Noire, Fond Ferdinand, Zimbabwe) through observations, following breeding calls in the field and following up information from others;
  5. Allocating alternate/sequential nests found to one of two groups: (1) a rat-controlled group in which rats must be controlled around individual nest sites; or (2) a no-intervention group of nests which undergo no control. There must be equal numbers of nests in each group and the rat control group should be primarily in the VdM/FP/NP areas to facilitate regular checking of traps once set;
  6. For the nests in the rat-control group, setting up to 10 live rat traps on and around each nest site). [Important: no snap or ‘kill’ traps, or poison can be used due to the high risk posed to non-target species]
  7. For rat-control nests, traps should be set and other measures in place for the whole period that the nest is active (i.e. until fledging is confirmed). Nests with active (set) traps must be visited at least once daily, to check/cull any rats caught and release any non-target animals – with minimal disturbance to the parrot nest;
  8. Ensuring that the highest standards of ethics and humane treatment of animals are maintained at all times;
  9. Monitoring of the nests in the rat-control group should otherwise be done as for the no-intervention group: Access nests for egg and chick measurements at approved intervals using methods detailed in the protocols and ensuring that safety of staff and welfare of parrots are prioritised at all times;
  10. Conducting mist-netting, ringing, measuring and sampling (blood, feather as required) of parrots; at times this might be taking the lead in this.
  11. Providing training and capacity building in field techniques for junior and less experienced members of the black parrot and research team including any students on work attachment;
  12. Conducting opportunistic observations on and collecting standardised data on black parrot feeding and unusual or interesting behaviours (e.g. copulations, feeding of fledglings, signs of disease or injury);
  13. At less busy times of the season you may be asked to assist with other research and monitoring work;
  14. Being responsible for all black parrot project equipment in use, maintain the equipment in good working order, reporting and highlighting missing or damaged equipment, assist in sourcing replacement or needed equipment and communicate necessary research requisitions clearly to VSC.

Office, data and reporting tasks

You are responsible for:

  1. Ensuring that all team members are collecting and recording the correct data on the black parrots;
  2. Ensuring that all black parrot data collected is entered into the black parrot Access database on a daily basis so the database is always up to date;
  3. Ensuring that all black parrot data entered into the database is checked and corrected at least weekly;
  4. Ensuring that the black parrot database is regularly backed up (every 2 weeks);
  5. Collecting and reporting detailed data on the rats caught at each nest in the rat-control group (number of rats, date,) and entering this into a designated IAS database;
  6. Writing/submitting monthly reports on black parrot project activities and findings including data summaries on all aspects of monitored nests and details of rat control around nests by the first week of the following month, i.e. the November report should be submitted by 7th December;
  7. Writing/submitting an end-of-season report (together with the BP team leader) with the first draft being submitted by the end of April and the final corrected version submitted by the end of May. This report will include the final results and analysis of the rat control vs no-intervention nests.

Organisation, communication and outreach

  1. Communicate with the other black parrot team members and the research team on a daily basis regarding work plans and activities plus any changes of plan;
  2. Follow the weekly work plan as approved in the research meeting unless plan changes are discussed and approved by VSC and the black parrot team leader;
  3. Liaise regularly with and update the VSC and SPC on the rat work and report any problems so that issues can be resolved together;
  4. Write and submit to the SIF Communications Officer regular Facebook posts whenever there is interesting news on the black parrots to share (e.g. first breeding behaviour seen, first nest or egg or chick found, interesting parrot behaviour seen, large number of parrots caught for ringing, elusive female caught, fledglings to report, problems with nests or birds etc), with high quality photos if possible;
  5. Contribute newsletter articles updating the black parrot season news on request from the communications officer, including high quality photos if possible;
  6. Produce other contributions for SIF publicity and visibility on request, e.g. article for annual report, newspaper/ magazine articles;
  7. Develop and give presentations on request to various audiences, e.g. SIF staff, schoolchildren, community groups;
  8. Assist wherever possible in the education and training of the field research assistants and rangers, and encourage self-improvement through further education of research staff;
  9. Contribute to education and outreach activities in the VdM education programme including guided tours and development of and participation in other activities to ensure high standards of education, high levels of engagement and correct information transfer;
  10. Occasional guiding of VIP groups or assistance of researchers with a particular interest in birds may be required outside normal working hours.

Administration

  1. Attend weekly research meetings with all VdM research staff and report findings and activities as requested;
  2. Attend monthly VdM staff meetings;
  3. Adhere to and help to ensure that other SIF staff, volunteers and students adhere to SIF protocols, policies and regulations, including the Code of Conduct, and policies on environmental management such as the Standard Operating Procedures of rat trapping/dispatch, internet usage and other regulations and memos which may be issued periodically;
  4. Due to the nature of place and the limited resources available to the organisation you might be requested occasionally to assist with any other duties not specifically listed here.

Deliverables:

  1. Monthly reports during black parrot breeding season
  2. End-of-season black parrot report including all findings and data of the season, comparison with earlier years and analysis of data. closely following the format of the 2017/2018 report
  3. Clean datasets and updated black parrot database including all data from season
  4. Data and analysis of rat control experiment
  5. Communication materials and contributions, e.g. Facebook and Twitter posts, newsletter articles, videos

Requirements:

Education and experience

  • BSc in environmental/conservation subject or equivalent (essential)
  • MSc in conservation/IAS/avian ecology (preferred)
  • At least 1 year working with birds (ideally parrots) (essential)
  • Experience and good working knowledge of IAS, their impacts and control (essential)
  • Additional experience working in the environmental sector in Seychelles (preferred)
  • Experience designing and running rigorous scientific experiments/projects (preferred)

Skills and special knowledge

  • High level of fitness and demonstrated ability to work in the field in tropical conditions including lone working in forested environments (essential)
  • Experience in rat trapping and culling techniques (essential)
  • Experience handling, ringing, measuring, sampling and mist-netting birds (essential, experience with parrots is preferred)
  • Demonstrated experience managing and summarising large datasets (essential)
  • Demonstrated experience of regular good quality report-writing and meeting deadlines (essential)
  • Competency with IT, specifically with MS software (Excel, Access, Word, Powerpoint), GPS & GIS software (essential) and statistics (preferred)
  • Strong communication/team skills and ability to get on well with people from different cultures (essential)
  • Tree-climbing skills and qualification (preferred)
  • Good working knowledge of Seychelles native and introduced flora and fauna (preferred)
  • Demonstrated experience at presenting to various audiences (preferred)
  • Proven determination and commitment to conservation and good knowledge of international conservation issues
  • Good time-management and organisational skills

Characteristics/attitude

The ideal candidate will have the following character attributes:

  • Positive, problem-solving and resourceful attitude
  • Strong and demonstrated initiative
  • Patience, flexibility and adaptability
  • High level of professionalism
  • Commitment, reliability, and strong motivation

Conditions

  • SIF will provide salary (6-7 months), in-country transport (airport pick-ups, work-related inter-island transport between Mahé and Praslin), accommodation close to the Vallée de Mai, and on-site office facilities
  • The successful candidate will be expected to organise their own international air fare and cover living costs from their salary

If you think you are the right candidate for the above position, please send your application to the Administration & Human Resources Department, Seychelles Islands Foundation, P.O Box 853, La Ciotat Building or contact us here or by phone on 4321735 for enquiries.  Application forms can be collected at our Head office on Mahé and at the Vallée de Mai on Praslin or downloaded here