A s*** job but somebody has to do
SOME summer jobs
involve waiting restaurant tables while in some
others you might expect to get your hands dirty.
But few positions require the employee to get
defecated upon every day with the droppings of
10,000 screaming seabirds.
Spare a thought so for
Donnacha Woods and Brian Burke - the two intrepid
BirdWatch Ireland wardens who are spending the
summer working on Rockabill Island - seven
kilometres off the north Dublin coast.
Rockabill hosts more than 80 per cent of north west
Europe's population of roseate terns and some 50
bird species in total.
The adventurous duo are earning a salary of €400 a
week and free accommodation in the island's old
disused lighthouse. The living conditions are
spartan but the sea views are "amazing".
They don't have a special uniform - just a hat and a
hooded jacket strong enough to withstand the
incessant peck of beaks and the torrent of bird
"It's hard in that you can't really go outside
without being assaulted by birds or pecked on the
head and defecated on," said Donnacha from
Greystones, Co Wicklow.
Star tern: An endangered roseate tern
takes a peck at BirdWatch Ireland warden Brian Burke
as he works on Rockabill Island off the coast of
"They attack you with
both ends so that the hat provides some physical
protection and unfortunately the jacket is for the
other end," a laughing Brian, from Co Roscommon,
The two men arrived on the island on May 6 and will
stay until mid-August. Their work involves the
monitoring and protection of the migrant roseate,
common and Arctic terns during their breeding
Hat'll do nicely: BirdWatch Ireland
warden Donnacha Woods tries to check eggs while
under aerial bombardment at Rockabill Island.
As part of their work,
Brian and Donnacha have to carry out nest censuses,
measure and weigh the young chicks and attach
They are also keeping fans updated with their 'Rockablog'
in which they have described how much they are
enjoying their challenging island adventure.
"To give you an example of how crazy things are
getting, there's a dirt track down to two of our
study areas that's roughly 10m long - this morning
there were 31 eggs along it," they wrote in their
"And not just at the sides but in the middle of the
path too! So our egg-checks are like an obstacle
course where we're trying to avoid standing on any
eggs, while also dodging the aerial attacks of our