Thursday, 25 February 2016

Come work with me!

UPDATE 2016-03-29: I have a couple of great applicants and I shall be choosing between those two. Currently waiting for a reference. Thank you everyone for your interest. Everyone who applied will be contacted shortly.


Yes. Literally. Come work with me on the superb fairy-wrens in Australia during my next field season - I need a field assistant.

The big picture

First the big picture. The field site is based in Canberra, so you are not cut off from civilisation, but it's not the most exciting city on the planet. It's going to be 2-3 months (with the upper limit of 3 months imposed by the visa restrictions). Start date mid-August or early-September 2016, this depends a bit on the weather conditions and how much training the person will need. It's paid and I'm working out if we have any budget for extra help, for instance with travel costs - I'd encourage people to apply for external grants though and I will be happy to provide assistance with that.

I need someone to help me out with behavioural observations and collection of field data, with focus on male courtship displays and individual identification.

What would you be expected to do?
The field assistant would spend a lot of time searching for birds, listening out for birds, watching birds, chasing birds, losing birds and finding birds again (hopefully). They will need to be able to spot and follow small birds through the bush, which - if you haven't tried it - is much harder than it sounds. Much, much harder. Good eyesight and hearing help.

While you are following a particular bird you also need to be able to spot and ID any other birds based on their colour band combination. Experience with binoculars helps here and you need to be able to tell the colours apart (and they are not always as clear as you might want them to be). Focus needs to be maintained during trials as it's very easy to miss birds - they are sneaky little buggers.

To consider...

Hopefully you can gauge from the above description that while this work can be really fun (you are outside bird watching after all!), it can also get a bit frustrating and tedious if you keep losing the bird and have to start over and over again. I need someone who can cope with that, someone enthusiastic and motivated, who won't get grumpy with me after a couple of hours - we will spend lots of time together and I really want this to be enjoyable and beneficial to both parties. You will of course get to meet the rest of the superb fairy-wren team and I am happy to introduce you to the folk I know at ANU, but you'd spend the majority of your time with me.

Decent level of general fitness is required too. While my field site is lovely (we have toilets, water fountains and even a cafe!), it is fairly big (~80 ha) and it is tiring to walk/run around the whole day. Some birds have fairly big territories and you might need to walk back and forwards several time while searching for the birds/following them. They don't tend to sit still much. Additionally, maintaining the high levels of focus during the trials will take their toll too.

Due to the timing/visa restrictions the time available for training will be limited - bird experience would be an advantage. It really helps if you know how to use binoculars, can spot and read colour bands on small birds and have a feel for what the bird might do next. Good peripheral vision does wonders for bird spotting. General field experience is crucial - you need to be sure you can do it, but also that you want to do it. And in order to know you want to do it, you must understand what it's like to do this type of work. If you don't like being outside, get impatient or tire very easily you will probably hate chasing after the fairy-wrens.

Get in touch

I this sounds like something you'd like to do, or if you have any questions you can get in touch with me through here or my Twitter or you can email me at A CV and a cover letter/email explaining why you'd like to work with me and telling me a little bit more about yourself and your experience, so I can gauge the fit would be sufficient for now. There is no hard deadline at the moment, as I want to find the right person for the job, but I'd like this sorted within 2 months, so if you think you'd be perfect for the job don't put it off for too long.

UPDATE: If you email me, I will email you back confirming I got your message. If you don't hear from me within a couple of working days, try again - your email might have gotten eaten by my spam filters. Please confirm that you are eligible for a visa.

Also, I was asked about the selection process. At the moment I am going to wait for a few applications. Then I will compare said applications. I will likely get in touch with some of the applicants to have a chat (Skype).

(If you need a deadline - I would suggest to email within the next two weeks, as this is likely to generate quite a bit of interest + you shouldn't need lots of time to assemble the "application".)

No comments:

Post a Comment