Dr Robert Flood

BSc (1st Hons), PhD (City University, London), DSc (Hull University, UK)

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 (Doctor of Science, Doctor of Philosophy). 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 the Melanesian islands, the Fijian islands, the Micronesian islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Pitcairn group, the Austral Islands, the Chatham Islands and Bounty Ridge, up the Humboldt Current, the Juan Fernandez archipelago, the remote Bering Sea (St Matthew’s Island and the Pribilofs). Bob has sailed the length of the Atlantic south to north four times. Less extreme pelagic trips include multiple trips out of 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 the 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 numerous 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).
  • A first observer of the recently discovered New Caledonian Storm-petrel and contributions to understanding its taxonomy..
  • Found and identified three Murphy’s Petrels off Juan Fernández (2014), thereby considerably extending the species' range eastward and adding the species 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.
  • Led the team that found and documented at sea the ‘near mythical’ dark-morph Herald Petrel off Ua Pou, Marquessas Islands.
  • 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 Pseudobulweria.

In addition, Bob has been involved in numerous first country records with the following being examples: 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), Zino’s Petrel (Isles of Scilly, UK, 2019), De Filippi’s Petrel (Marquesas, 2020), White-faced Storm-petrel (Marquesas 2020). There are also numerous contributions to understanding and significantly rewriting the range of tubenose species.

Perhaps Bob’s most important contribution to seabird identification is through the highly acclaimed series ‘North Atlantic Seabirds Multimedia ID Guides’, with four titles published – Storm-petrels & Bulwer’s Petrel (2011, revised 2013), Pterodroma Petrels (2013), Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels (2016), Shearwaters, Jouanin’s & White-chinned Petrels (2020). 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 in 2006 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 July and August. Bob occasionally leads seabird tours for tour companies, but only if the trip is utterly irresistible in terms of the tubenoses promised.

Publications:

Books

Flood, R.L. and Fisher, E. 2020. North Atlantic Seabirds: Shearwaters, Jouanin’s & White-chinned Petrels. Pelagic Birds & Birding Multimedia ID Guides, Scilly. ISBN 978-0-9568867-7-4 hardback.

Flood, R.L. and Fisher, E. 2016. North Atlantic Seabirds: Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels. Pelagic Birds and Birding Multimedia ID Guides, Scilly. ISBN 978-0-9568867-2-9 hardback.

Flood, R.L. and Fisher, E. 2013. North Atlantic Seabirds: Pterodroma Petrels. Pelagic Birds and 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. and Fisher, E. 2011. North Atlantic Seabirds: Storm-petrels & Bulwer’s Petrel. Pelagic Birds and 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. and Thomas, B. 2007. Essential Guide to Birds of the Isles of Scilly. R. Booth, Penryn. ISBN 978-0-9553430-2-5 hardback.

Refereed articles

Flood, R. L. & Zufelt, Z. 2023. Sighting of a Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki and a Vanuatu Petrel Pterodroma [cervicalis] occulta in remote Oceania, and the process of identification. Marine Ornithology 51: 79–84.

Flood, R.L., Koerkamp, G.G., de Vries, P.P. and Adishcheva, O. 2022. ‘Russian Arctic flyway’ – another possible route for Short-tailed Shearwater to access North Atlantic. Dutch Birding 44: 363–367

Flood, R.L., Danzenbaker, M., Hansbro, P., Rogers, C., Tanoi, H., Tanoi, S. 2022. More New Zealand Storm Petrels Fregetta maoriana off Gau Island, Fiji, in May 2022. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 142: 380–382.

Flood, R.L., Zufelt, K., Danzenbaker, M., Tanoi, S., Bretagnole, V., & Shirihai, H. 2022. The Dark-Morph Herald Petrel Pterodroma heraldica. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 142: 354–365.

Flood, R.L., and Simião, S. 2022. Flesh-footed Shearwater, Santa Barbara das Ribeiras, Pico Island, Azores Islands, 7 August 2020. Dutch Birding 44: 83–88.

Bretagnolle, V., Flood, R.L., Gaba, S. and Shirihai, H. 2022. Fregetta lineata (Peale 1848) is a valid extant species endemic to New Caledonia. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 142: 111–130.

Archer, P., Flood, R.L., Allen, A., Jacques, A., Acampora, H., Senfeld, T., Shannon, T.J. and Collinson, J.M. 2021. Short-tailed Shearwater at Tramore, Ireland, in June 2020. Dutch Birding 43: 183–197.

Flood, R.L., and Gutiérrez, R. 2021. Separation of Cory’s Calonectris borealis and Scopoli’s C. diomedea Shearwaters based on underwing plumage. Marine Ornithology 49: 311–320.

Flood, R.L., Richards, J.M., Gaston, A.J. and Zufelt, K. 2021. ‘Canadian Arctic flyway’ – possible route for Short-tailed Shearwater to access North Atlantic. Dutch Birding 43: 198–202.

Flood, R.L., Zufelt, K., Bretagnole, V. and Shirihai, H. 2021. Pelagic birds around Rapa and Marotiri, French Polynesia, October–December 2019, with notes on Rapa Shearwater Puffinus myrtae and Titan Storm-petrel Fregetta [grallaria] titan. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 141: 387–411.

Valls, F.C.L. Tavares, M., Flood, R.L. and Bugoni, L. 2021. The status of Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera in the south-west Atlantic Ocean, with notes on separation from dark-morph Trindade Petrel P. arminjoniana. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 141: 267–275.

Flood, R.L., Olsen, K., Senfeld, T., Shannon, T.J., and Collinson, J.M. 2020. Audubon’s Shearwater collected in Skagerrak, Denmark, September 1912. Dutch Birding 42: 147–156.

Olsen, K., Flood, R.L., Senfeld, T., Shannon, T.J., and Collinson, J.M. 2020. Scopoli’s Shearwater collected in Faroes in August 1877. Dutch Birding 42: 335–340

Flood, R.L. 2019. Bulwer’s Petrels with whitish or pale underbody. 2019. Dutch Birding 41: 183–185.

Flood, R.L. and Fisher, E. A. 2019. Identification of Short-tailed Shearwater in the North Atlantic Ocean. British Birds 112: 250–263.

Flood, R.L. and Gutiérrez, R. 2019. The status of Cory’s Shearwater in the western Mediterranean Sea. Dutch Birding 41: 159–165.

Flood, R.L. and van der Vliet, R. 2019. Variation in the plumage aspect of Barolo and Boyd’s Shearwaters: implications for identification. Dutch Birding 41: 215–237.

Flood, R.L., de Lima, R.F., Melo, M, Verbelen, P and Wagstaff, W.H. 2019. What is known about the enigmatic Gulf of Guinea band-rumped storm petrels Hydrobates cf. castro? Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club 139 (2): 173-186.

Flood, R.L. 2016. Pacific Fulmars Fulmarus glacialis rodgersii in the Bering Sea June/July 2015. British Birds 109: 60–62.

Flood, R.L. 2011. Wilson’s Storm-petrel with white stripes in the underwing. British Birds 104: 272–273

Flood, R.L. and Ryan, P. 2018. Age-related timing of primary moult in Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta/steadi longline casualties from South Africa. Marine Ornithology 46: 201–206.

Flood, R.L. and Zufelt, K. 2018. New estimate of the number of breeding pairs of Great-winged Petrel on Tristan Island, South Atlantic. Marine Ornithology 46: 109–111.

Flood, R.L. and 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. and 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., Simon, J., Tribot, J. and Pineau, K. 2017. A Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel (Hydrobates monorhis) in French Guiana: the first record for South America. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 227-231.

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. and Ryan, P. 2016. Ageing criteria for the Shy Albatrosses. African BirdLife Jan/Feb: 49–53.

Flood, R.L., Wilson, A.G. and 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., Wilson, A.C., Danzenbaker, M., Ryan, J., Shemilt, J. and 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. and van Grouw, H. 2015. Unfamiliar plumage types of fulmars in the North Atlantic. British Birds 108: 331–348.

Flood, R.L., Fisher, E. A. and 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. and 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. 2014. Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris primary moult timing in the fourth prebasic moult. Seabird 27: 98–103.

Madeiros, J., Flood, R.L. and 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. and 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., Romano, H. and Correia-Fagundes, C. 2013. The first confirmed South Polar Skua for Madeira. Birding World 26: 248–252.

Flood, R.L. 2012. Madeiran Storm-petrel: new to Britain. British Birds 105: 2–10.

Fisher, A. and Flood, R.L. 2010. Scopoli’s Shearwater: new to Britain. British Birds 103: 712–717.

Flood, R.L. and Fisher, E. A. 2010. Wilson’s Storm-petrels off the Isles of Scilly: a ten-year analysis, 2000–09. British Birds 103: 396–399.

Flood, R.L. 2009. ‘All-dark’ Oceanodroma storm-petrels in the Atlantic and neighbouring seas. British Birds 102: 365–385.

Flood, R.L. 2008. A first for Australia: Polynesian Storm-petrel. Birding World 21: 210.

Stephenson, B. M., Flood, R.L., Thomas, B. and 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. and 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. and Flood, R.L. 2006. Fea’s Petrel off Scilly: new to Britain. British Birds 99: 394–400.

Flood, R.L., Saville, S., Southey, I., Stephenson, B. and 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.

Refereed notes

Flood, R.L., and Simpson, B. 2021. Tahiti Petrel off Mirbat, Oman, in February 2019. Dutch Birding 43: 257–262. 

Wright, N., Fisher, A. and Flood, R. 2019. Eastern Orphean Warbler on the Isles of Scilly: new to Britain. British Birds 112: 146-152.

Flood, R.L. 2018. Great Skua feeding behaviour at sea off Isles of Scilly. British Birds 111: 402–405.

Flood, R.L. and Pop, R. 2018. Jouanin’s Petrel photospot. Sandgrouse 40: 86–89.

Flood, R.L. and Williams, A. 2018. Black-capped Petrel off Agadir, Morocco, in March 2013. Dutch Birding 40:29-32.

Flood, R.L., Danzenbaker, M., Wilson, A.C. and Zufelt, K. 2015. Long-tailed Skua predation of Wilson’s Storm-petrel. British Birds 108: 547.

Flood, R.L., Fisher, E.A., Cleave, A. and 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.

Articles

Flood, R.L. 2023. Voyage of discovery. Birdwatch March: 56-59.

Flood, R.L., Rogers, C. Tanoi, S. and Zufelt, K. 2023. Pelagic observations Hawaii to Fiji, via Kiribati and Phoenix Islands, April-June 2022. Pacific Seabird Group Technical Publication Number 5. Available at pacificseabirdgroup.org/psg-publications/technical-publications 

Flood, R.L., Tanoi, S. and Zufelt, K. 2022. Pelagic observations during a circumnavigation of the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, September–October 2021. Pacific Seabird Group Technical Publication Number 4. Available at pacificseabirdgroup.org/psg-publications/technical-publications/

Flood, R.L., and Zufelt, K. 2021. Pelagic observations, Gambier Islands to Tahiti via Austral Islands, October–November 2019, and past expeditions in East Polynesia. Pacific Seabird Group Technical Publication Number 3. Download it at https://pacificseabirdgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/FloodZufelt-East-Polynesia-PSG-TN3.pdf

Flood, R.L.  2021. Manx, Balearic and Yelkouan Shearwaters: ID Photo Guide. Birdwatch July: 30–33.

Flood, R.L. and Pender, R. 2021. Cetaceans recorded off the Isles of Scilly since 2000. Sea Watch News 6.

Flood, R.L., Wilson, A. C., Zufelt, K., Danzenbaker, M., Ryan, J., & Shemilt, J. 2017. Humboldt Current and the Juan Fernández archipelago. Expedition Research Report: November 2014

Flood, R.L. and Danzenbaker, M. 2013. Watching the Bermuda Petrel – ‘the Cahow’ – off Bermuda. Birding World 26: 82–85.

Flood, R.L., Taylor, M. and Zufelt, K. 2012. Tubenoses seen in the southwest Atlantic in April 2012. Birding World 26 304–308.

Flood, R.L. and Fisher, A. 2011. Madeiran Petrel in the North Atlantic: an identification update. Birding World 24: 287–299.

Fisher, A. and 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. and 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. and 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. and 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. and Lascelles, B. 2004. Another Fea’s Petrel off Scilly. Birding World 17: 392.

Fisher, A. and Flood, R.L. 2004. The Cream-coloured Courser on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 17: 426–428.

Fisher, A. and Flood, R.L. 2004. A Scopoli’s Shearwater off the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 17: 334–336.

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. and Flood, R.L. 2001. Fea’s Petrel off the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 14:  289–292.

Letters

Flood, R.L. 2015. Status of Wilson’s Storm-petrel in Britain. British Birds 108: 292–293.

Editorial roles

Editorial Board Member 2020 -.Dutch Birding

Editorial Board Member 2017 -.Sandgrouse.

Editor 2000–2007. Isles of Scilly Bird and Natural History Review.

Video Contributions

European Storm-petrel used in the TV programme 'Que animal! Mallorca (Islas Balers)', 20 January 2018, RTVE Spain.

Sooty Albatross used in the movie 'The Leadership: A film by Ili Baré', released in 2020 by Bunya Productions

Other

Regular contributor to the popular Birdwatch magazine.

Award

2021 Carl Zeiss Award awarded by British Birds Rarities Committee