VENT Birding Tours: Photo Galleries

Fall at Panama's Canopy Tower 2014


Dec 17, 2014

“Oh my god, there’s a Sunbittern in the road right next to us!” I “whispered” in a semi-suppressed voice. I had heard a rustling noise to my right and turned to see this localized and infrequently seen species (for this area) emerging from the dense vegetation on the side of Pipeline Road no more than fifteen feet away. I figured it would dart across the road and provide only fleeting views at best for the group. Instead, the bird trotted slowly down the road, mo...

Panama's Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2014


Dec 10, 2014

As I compile this Field List, my mind is wandering among the wonderful images and memories of our Panama´s Canal Zone Relaxed & Easy tour. It is difficult to pick only a handful as favorites, because there were so many, but here are a few highlights. Well before the day broke, the chachalacas were communicating in their unique parlance, and smaller gems, such as the Blue Dacnis and the Red-legged Honeycreeper, waited around the bird feeders for the daily fruits. Blue-cheste...

Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito 2014


Oct 28, 2014

The Lodge at Pico Bonito provides a wonderful base for exploration of the Caribbean lowlands of Honduras. On the days we left the lodge to bird other areas, we had to pry ourselves away from the myriad birds that call the lodge grounds home. When we did escape, we were thrilled by a miniature train ride (the burra), the mangrove lagoons of Cuero y Salado, the hummingbird show at Rio Santiago, the desert-like Aguan Valley, and the forests of the Lancetilla Botanical Garden. German Martinez pro...

Honduras: Copan Extension 2014


Oct 27, 2014

Meandering through the Honduran countryside, we saw roadside markets, corn fields, and raw coffee beans drying on the pavement. Today the Copan valley has fewer residents than it had during the classic period of the Mayans 1,500 years ago. Our first stop to immerse ourselves into the history of the Maya was at El Puente, a satellite community of the main settlement. Here we saw a few modest temples and some residences, as Yobani guided us through the complexities of Mayan history. In the asso...

Colorado Grouse 2014


Oct 25, 2014

Colorado’s diverse habitats held our targets; to access these birds we covered more than 2,000 miles of Colorado’s roads from freeways to dirt two-tracks. Starting in Gunnison, we made our way over passes, through a spring snowstorm, across the parched shortgrass prairies, past endless miles of wheat fields, and up and down mountains. This wild circumnavigation brought us through the native habitats of seven species of grouse, from 12,000 feet at Loveland Pass to a surprise spring...

Jamaica 2014


Oct 25, 2014

From the coast at Montego Bay we headed inland to the famed Rocklands Bird Sanctuary where hummingbirds have been hand-tamed for decades. From there we proceeded to the lovely Marshall's Pen and the amazing array of birds that call the garden home. As we made our way to the south coast, an arid zone with acacias and cactus, we found a couple of special birds before passing through Kingston for a swing through the Blue and John Crow Mountains before winding up in Kingston at the lovely Spanish...

Autumn Grand Manan 2014


Oct 01, 2014

It appeared from out of nowhere, as skuas often do. A big, powerful, rich-brown bird with bold white wing patches coming up the wake with purpose. It checked out the chumming scene below, headed quickly past the boat, and then did something very unlike a skua. It banked sharply and came back. Typically, skuas give you the once-over and then, with a look of disdain, head on their way. Efforts to pursue them usually fail, and you are left with brief views, maybe not good enough for specific ide...

Brazil: Pantanal Photo Safari (Birds & Jaguars) 2014


Sep 11, 2014

It is difficult to summarize the wonderful bird and mammal experiences from our Pantanal Photo Safari in a brief report such as this, simply because there were so many! Every day we were awakened by a cacophony of notes from Gray-necked Wood-Rails, Limpkins, and Chaco Chachalacas. They were indeed our alarm clock! Then came a golden sunrise, a fresh morning breeze, and the sweet notes of the Sunbittern. With the first hint of light, we experienced a massive explosion of life: Toco Toucans cam...

Belize: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2011


Sep 03, 2014

As we often do, we began our 2011 Belize: Relaxed & Easy tour on the grounds of our hotel in Belize City. And I am always a little surprised just how birdy this place is. This time, not only did we get a nice start to our trip with such birds as Social Flycatcher, Tropical Mockingbird, Black-cowled Oriole, Melodious Blackbird, and Cinnamon Hummingbird, but we also saw a fly-by Eurasian Collared-Dove, a species that continues to expand in the New World and seems destined to become establis...

Eastern Venezuela: Tepui Endemics & the Orinoco River Delta 2014


Sep 03, 2014

Our 2014 Eastern Venezuela tour began near the southern bank of the Orinoco River in Cachamay Park. Here, after much searching, we saw the beautiful Orinocan Saltator, our first target species. Exploring the edge of the dry and riverine forests, we added to our list several species that are common in the northern part of the country.   Roraiman Barbtail— Photo: David Ascanio     Continuing south, we drove to one of my favorite birding areas: Sierra ...

Southern Britain: Birds & History 2014


Aug 19, 2014

Kent, the “Garden of England,” offered a daily mix of exciting birding and the enthralling history of the UK, from Roman times to the present. This combination resulted in a tremendously successful tour! Running this tour for the first time in spring ensured we found England at its best. Migration was in full swing; the birds in their smart breeding plumage were singing and displaying; hedgerows were ablaze in color; woodlands were carpeted with bluebells, while fiery poppies and ...

Scotland in Style: Birds & History 2014


Aug 19, 2014

Breathtaking Scottish highland scenery, superb birding, the constant flush of spring greens and vibrant flowers, a wealth of historical sites (castles, stately homes, and battlefields), and a visit to one of the world’s finest Scots whisky distilleries to sample a wee dram—what more can one ask for? Combine all this with a wonderful group of people based in a superb historic hotel where we were treated like kings, with superb meals (we all certainly gained a little weight) and mar...

Northern Peru's Tumbes & Maranon Endemics 2014


Aug 14, 2014

VENT’s return to this spectacular corner of Northern Peru, which is full of Tumbes and Marañon endemics and unique habitats, was a fantastic success! We were blessed with great weather, superb birding, and wonderful field breakfasts and lunches. Imagine, as dawn breaks, sitting down at a large table with hot coffee, steaming hot fried eggs or pancakes, fresh fruit, yogurt, and fruit juice, and always with a stunning panoramic view. Thanks to our professional cook, Aurelio, this w...

Avian Jewels of Arizona 2014


Aug 11, 2014

Our 2014 Avian Jewels of Arizona tour was arguably our best ever. It seemed as if every bird we looked for appeared magically, in short time, and then allowed spectacular views. In discussing any summer tour to Arizona, you must start with hummingbirds. We had an impressive 12 species on our trip, highlighted by the Plain-capped Starthroat in Madera Canyon that visited the Santa Rita Lodge feeders about every ten minutes while we were there. This accidental visitor from Mexico is certainly on...

Colombia: The Central & Western Andes 2014


Jul 25, 2014

A year ago I summarized this trip as follows: curvy roads, landslides, massive road construction projects, tractor-trailer trucks, out-sized meals for carnivores, beautiful cloud forests, spectacular mountain scenery, rare parrots, hummingbirds, antpittas, colorful tanagers, mixed species flocks, and friendly people. What else to add? This year even more species, and highlights that included Andean Condor, Tiny Hawk, a displaying Club-winged Manakin, a rare Yellow-headed Manakin, five species...

Alaska: Barrow Extension 2014


Jul 23, 2014

Shortly after our arrival in Barrow we headed out onto the Gaswell Road. It was difficult to make much progress, as we made frequent stops for dapper Long-tailed Ducks, stunning Red Phalaropes, and displaying Pectoral Sandpipers, all of which were wonderfully numerous. A parade of other birds caught our attention as well, including the likes of Greater White-fronted Goose, Tundra Swan, spiffy Dunlins, Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers, Lapland Longspurs, and brilliant Snow Buntings. Eventua...

Alaska Mainland 2014


Jul 23, 2014

Easing out of the boat harbor in Seward, it was hard not to marvel at the spectacular scenery that surrounded Resurrection Bay: three hundred and sixty degrees of jaw-dropping beauty that would accompany us throughout the day. Of course we had birds on the mind, and almost immediately our attention was drawn from the scenery to passing Arctic Terns, a Northwestern Crow, a playful sea otter, and an adult Bald Eagle perched on a channel marker. Some of the stunning scenery around Sewar...

Southern Portugal: Birds & History 2014


Jul 20, 2014

VENT’s first ever Southern Portugal: Birds and History tour was a great success, granting participants countless encounters with the unique avifauna of the Iberian Peninsula in a variety of scenic habitats, complemented by visits to many historical sites, and fantastic traditional food and wine. Not only did we see 153 bird species – some of which can only be found in this region – but we also visited Roman temples, Palaeochristian ruins, Moorish castles, and strolled throug...

Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands 2013


Jul 11, 2014

Although the route we took to the White Continent was certainly the long way, we had many wonderful experiences while getting there. Visiting the still contested Falkland Islands and the superb wildlife spectacle that is South Georgia added great sightings. It also took us right through a low pressure system that produced 40-foot seas with a few waves at 50-feet in the Drake Passage. All told, it was an excellent expedition to the unrivaled seventh continent, made luxurious by the ship's supe...

Minnesota & North Dakota 2014


Jun 28, 2014

Birding the forests, bogs, meadows, prairies, ponds, and marshes of Minnesota and North Dakota produced an amazing array of birds and scenery during our eight days on the road. Obvious highlights included Great Gray Owl; a nest of Northern Hawk Owls that all fledged during our three days birding the Sax-Zim Bog; Connecticut Warbler; Black-backed Woodpecker; and a couple of singing Baird’s Sparrows. The swampy spruce-tamarack bogs held a beautiful variety of breeding warblers and other s...