Dr Robert Flood
Dr Robert Louis Flood
Activities and research interests
(Robert) Bob’s research qualifications are based in the interdisciplinary ‘systemic science’ that is well-suited to his lifelong interest and studies in ornithology. Bob’s main interest is seabirds, in particular Procellariiformes (tubenoses), with a special interest in range, occurrence, identification and ageing. Such studies are an integral part of important research topics such as seabird conservation. In recent years, Bob has been increasingly involved with the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, exchanging knowledge and collaborating in studies, and his post as a Research Associate of the Institute cements these relations for future cooperation.
Bob has travelled the world’s oceans over the last 30 years, and over the last 15 years he has increasingly taken on the role of organising and leading expeditions to many of the most remote oceanic locations. Notably, at-sea expeditions have sailed Melanesia, Fiji, Micronesia, French Polynesia, the Pitcairn group, Chatham and seas south of the islands, Humboldt Current, Juan Fernandez archipelago, remote Bering Sea. Bob has sailed the length of the Atlantic south to north four times. Less extreme pelagic trips include often multiple trips to islands off Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Mexico; and trips offshore Lima (Peru), Seychelles, Cape Town (South Africa), Bermuda, Svalbard, Cape Verde Islands, Canary Islands, Hatteras (USA).
Bob worked for several years as ship’s ornithologist on Antarctic expedition cruisers and was working as ornithologist on MV Explorer when she hit an iceberg and sank in Antarctica – a stark reminder to all seabirder fanatics for the need to respect all aspects of the ocean.
In the course of these voyages and expeditions, Bob and teammates have made numerous contributions to knowledge about seabirds and Bob has published these observations in well-respected refereed international journals (see publication list):
- Co-rediscovered the New Zealand Storm-petrel at its breeding grounds off New Zealand (2003), the first step in its recovery and conservation, and found and identified the first (to date only) New Zealand Storm-petrel away from the breeding grounds, off Fiji, extending its range by some 2,500 km to the north (2017).
- Found and identified three Murphy’s Petrels off Juan Fernández (2014) considerably extending the species' range eastward and adding them to the list of South American avifauna.
- The second team to document with photographs Mascarene Petrel at sea off Reunion Island (2014), and in the process trained local conservationists working on saving the Mascarene Petrel in methods of attracting and studying these petrels at sea.
- Documentation of a Chatham Island Petrel across the 180° Meridian from the Chatham archipelago (2016), and thus in the eastern hemisphere. This extends the known at-sea range to west of Chatham and close to South Island, New Zealand, indicating that it is in closer proximity to commercial fishing and other human activities than previously known.
- Melanesia, sailed 3,000 km from Vanuatu to New Ireland (2017) adding knowledge to the identification and separation of Vanuatu Petrel / White-necked Petrel, range and distribution and first record of moult in Heinroth’s Shearwater, possible breeding location of Beck’s Petrel, new insights into the recently described Magnificent Petrel, and one of few sightings of probably an undescribed all-dark taxon of Psuedobulweria.
In addition, Bob has been involved in the following first country records: Fea’s Petrel (Isles of Scilly, UK, 2001), Scopoli’s Shearwater (Isles of Scilly, UK, 2004), Madeiran Storm-petrel (Isles of Scilly, UK, 2007), Polynesian Storm-petrel (Australia, 2008), Cory’s Shearwater (United Arab Emirates, 2012), South Polar Skua (Madeira, 2013), Black-capped Petrel (Morocco, 2013), and Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel (French Guiana, 2017).
Perhaps Bob’s most important contribution to seabird identification is through the highly acclaimed series ‘North Atlantic Seabirds Multimedia ID Guides’, with three of four titles already published – Storm-petrels & Bulwer’s Petrel, Pterodroma Petrels, Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels, and the last volume Shearwaters is in preparation for 2018. These titles offer brand new insights into the identification and ageing of tubenose families, which is equally useful to researchers and to recreational seabirder fanatics.
Finally, and by no means least, Bob was the prime mover in establishing and currently leads Scilly Pelagics, offering short-range pelagic trips from his home island St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, off south-west England. The origin of Scilly Pelagics is in the mid-1990s though it is now a firm fixture on the UK birding calendar, offering trips mainly July–October, with the highly popular ‘Birder Special Pelagic 4-day weekends’ running throughout August. Bob occasionally leads seabird tours for tour companies, but only if the trip is utterly irresistible in terms of the seabirds promised.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, E. In prep 2018. North Atlantic Seabirds: Shearwaters, Bulweria Petrels & White-chinned Petrel. Pelagic Birds & Birding Multimedia ID Guides, Scilly. ISBN 978-0-9568867-7-4 hardback.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, E. 2016. North Atlantic Seabirds: Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels. Pelagic Birds & Birding Multimedia ID Guides, Scilly. ISBN 978-0-9568867-2-9 hardback.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, E. 2013. North Atlantic Seabirds: Pterodroma Petrels. Pelagic Birds & Birding Multimedia ID Guides, Scilly. ISBN 978-09568867-1-2 hardback; ISBN 978-0-9568867-5-0 epub; ISBN 978-0-9568867-6-7 mobi.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, E. 2011. North Atlantic Seabirds: Storm-petrels & Bulwer’s Petrel. Pelagic Birds & Birding Multimedia ID Guides, Scilly. ISBN 978-09568867-0-5 hardback (revised edition 2013) ISBN 978-0-9568867-3-6 epub; ISBN 978-0-9568867-4-3 mobi.
Flood, R.L. Hudson, N., Thomas, B. 2007. Essential Guide to Birds of the Isles of Scilly. R. Booth, Penryn. ISBN 978-0-9553430-2-5 hardback.
Flood, R.L., Simon, J., Tribot, J. & Pineau, K. In press. A Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel (Hydrobates monorhis) in French Guiana: the first record for South America. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia.
Flood, R.L. & Wilson, A. 2017. A New Zealand Storm-petrel Fregetta maoriana off Gau Island, Fiji, in May 2017. Bulletin of British Ornithologists’ Club 137: 278-286.
Flood, R.L., Wilson, A C. & Zufelt, K. 2017. Observations of five little-known tubenoses from Melanesia in January 2017. Bulletin of British Ornithologists’ Club 137: 226–236.
Flood, R.L., Wilson, A.G. & Zufelt, K. 2016. At-Sea Sightings of Chatham Petrel Pterodroma axillaris confirm use of waters off New Zealand. Marine Ornithology 44: 221–224.
Flood, R.L. 2016. Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis, Persian Shearwater Puffinus persicus, Jouanin’s Petrel Bulweria fallax and Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus, Muscat to Djibouti and into the Red sea, March/April 2015. Sandgrouse 38: 27–35.
Flood, R.L. 2016. Process for at-sea identification in the feae-complex applied to a petrel observed off the Isles of Scilly. Seabird 28: 78–88.
Flood, R.L. & Ryan, P. 2016. Ageing criteria for the Shy Albatrosses. African BirdLife Jan/Feb: 49–53.
Flood, R.L., Wilson, A.C., Danzenbaker, M., Ryan, J., Shemilt, J. & Zufelt, K. 2016. Three Murphy’s Petrels Pterodroma ultima off the Juãn Fernández Islands, Chile, November 2014. Cotinga 38: 110–112.
Flood, R.L. 2015. The two Yellow-nosed Albatrosses: Molt, Age, and Identification. Birding 47 (3): 34–45.
Flood, R.L., Fisher, E. A. & Gale, J. 2015. Ageing criteria for the Black-browed Albatross. British Birds 108: 264–285.
Flood, R.L., Cook, E., Danzenbaker, M., Koch, D., Shemilt, J. & Zufelt, K. 2015. Barau’s Petrel, Mascarene Petrel and other tubenoses off Réunion Island, Indian Ocean, December 2014. Dutch Birding 37: 295–301.
Flood, R.L. & van Grouw, H. 2015. Unfamiliar plumage types of fulmars in the North Atlantic. British Birds 108: 331–348.
Flood, R.L. 2014. Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris primary moult timing in the fourth prebasic moult. Seabird 27: 98–103.
Madeiros, J., Flood, R.L. & Zufelt, K. 2014. Conservation and at-sea range of Bermuda Petrel (Pterodroma cahow). North American Birds 67: 546–557.
Campbell, O., Flood, R.L., al Dhaheri, K. & Talbot, G. 2013. The first confirmed records of Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris (diomedea) borealis for the United Arab Emirates and Oman, in 2011. Sandgrouse 35: 126–131.
Flood, R.L. 2012. Madeiran Storm-petrel: new to Britain. British Birds 105: 2–10.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, E. A. 2010. Wilson’s Storm-petrels off the Isles of Scilly: a ten-year analysis, 2000–09. British Birds 103: 396–399.
Fisher, A., Flood, R.L. 2010. Scopoli’s Shearwater: new to Britain. British Birds 103: 712–717.
Flood, R.L. 2009. ‘All-dark’ Oceanodroma storm-petrels in the Atlantic and neighbouring seas. British Birds 102: 365–385.
Stephenson, B. M., Flood, R.L., Thomas, B. & Saville, S. 2008. Rediscovery of the New Zealand Storm-petrel (Pealeornis maoriana Mathews 1932): two sightings that revised our knowledge of storm petrels. Notornis 55: 77–83.
Flood, R.L. & Thomas, B. 2007. Identification of ‘black-and-white’ storm-petrels of the North Atlantic. British Birds 100: 407–442.
German version: 2008. Die Bestimmung nordatlantischer weißbürzeliger Sturmschwalben der Gattunen: Hydrobates, Oceanites und Oceanodroma. Limicola 22: 81–124.
Fisher, A. & Flood, R.L. 2006. Fea’s Petrel off Scilly: new to Britain. British Birds 99: 394–400.
Flood, R.L. & Williams, A. In press. Black-capped Petrel off Agadir, Morocco, in March 2013. Dutch Birding
Flood, R.L. In press. Great Skua feeding behaviour at sea off the Isles of Scilly. British Birds
Flood, R.L. & Pop, R. In press. Jouanin’s Petrel photospot. Sandgrouse
Flood, R.L. 2016. Pacific Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis rodgersii in the Bering Sea June/July 2015. British Birds 109: 60–62.
Flood, R.L., Danzenbaker, M., Wilson, A.C. & Zufelt, K. 2015. Long-tailed Skua predation of Wilson’s Storm-petrel. British Birds 108: 547.
Flood, R.L. 2011. Wilson’s Storm-petrel with white stripes in the underwing. British Birds 104: 272–273.
Flood, R.L., Fisher, E.A., Cleave, A. & Sterry, P. 2009. European Storm-petrels diving for food. British Birds 102: 352.
Flood, R.L. 2008. Short-eared Owl sits on sea surface to avoid mobbing Carrion Crows. British Birds 101: 688.
Flood, R.L., Romano, H. & Correia-Fagundes, C. 2013. The first confirmed South Polar Skua for Madeira. Birding World 26: 248–252.
Flood, R.L. & Danzenbaker, M. 2013. Watching the Bermuda Petrel – ‘the Cahow’ – off Bermuda. Birding World 26: 82–85.
Flood, R.L., Taylor, M. & Zufelt, K. 2012. Tubenoses seen in the southwest Atlantic in April 2012. Birding World 26 304–308.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, A. 2011. Madeiran Petrel in the North Atlantic: an identification update. Birding World 24: 287–299.
Fisher, A. & Flood, R.L. 2010. The Black-browed Albatross off Scilly. Birding World 22: 379–381.
Flood, R.L. 2010. More Trindade Petrels around the Atlantic. Birding World 23: 305–306.
Flood, R.L. & Danzenbaker, M. 2009. Identification of Trindade Petrel and its status in the North Atlantic. Birding World 22: 162–166.
Flood, R.L. 2009. A quest for storm-petrels. Birding World 22: 125–127.
Flood, R.L. 2008. A first for Australia: Polynesian Storm-petrel. Birding World 21: 210.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, A. 2008. Short-range pelagic birding trips off the Isles of Scilly in August 2008. Birding World 21: 340–346.
Flood, R.L. 2007. The Madeiran Petrel off the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 20: 298.
Flood, R.L. & Fisher, A. 2005. Wilson’s Storm-petrels off the Isles of Scilly: a five-year analysis, 2000–2004. Birding World 16: 247–249.
Flood, R.L. 2004. Pelagic day-trips off Australia and New Zealand. Alula 4: 170–180. Finnish version: 2004. Australian ja Uuden-Seelannin meriretket. Alula 4: 24–34.
Flood, R.L. & Lascelles, B. 2004. Another Fea’s Petrel off Scilly. Birding World 17: 392.
Fisher, A. & Flood, R.L. 2004. The Cream-coloured Courser on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 17: 426–428.
Fisher, A. & Flood, R.L. 2004. A Scopoli’s Shearwater off the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 17: 334–336.
Flood, R.L., Saville, S., Southey, I., Stephenson, B. & Thomas, B. 2004. Digital resurrection of the New Zealand Storm-petrel. Southern Bird 17: 6.
Flood, R.L. 2003. The New Zealand Storm-petrel is not extinct. Birding World 16: 479–482.
Flood, R.L. 2003. The Little Crake on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 16: 433.
Flood, R.L. 2003. The Solitary Sandpiper on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 16: 284.
Flood, R.L. 2003. Wilson’s Storm-petrels off the Isles of Scilly 2000–2002. Birding World 16: 210–218.
Flood, R.L. 2002. The Lesser Kestrel on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 15: 201–208.
Flood, R.L. 2002. Three American Herring Gulls on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 15: 106–110.
Fisher, A., Flood, R.L. 2001. Fea’s Petrel off the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 14: 289–292.
Flood, R.L. 2015. Status of Wilson’s Storm-petrel in Britain. British Birds 108: 292–293.
Editorial Board Member 2017–. Sandgrouse.
Editor 2000–2007. Isles of Scilly Bird & Natural History Review.
Regular contributor to the popular Birdwatch magazine.