VENT Birding Tours: Photo Galleries

Alaska Highlights 2017

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Sep 08, 2017

“Oh my God, there’s a Gyrfalcon right next to the road being chased by Long-tailed Jaegers!” I yelled, as I brought the van to a quick halt. There aren’t many places around where one can utter those words, but such are the possibilities in Nome, Alaska. Nome is one of my favorite birding places on the planet, and all of the reasons why were on display on this year’s Alaska Highlights tour. Bluethroat— Photo: Barry Zimmer   Three ro...


Spring in the Washington Cascades, Relaxed & Easy 2017

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Jul 12, 2017

The morning of the fourth day of our 2017 Spring in the Washington Cascades tour found us at the foot of a canyon in the Entiat Mountains, just where the canyon opens to the massive Columbia River. At the canyon’s mouth, basalt cliffs tower several hundred feet above steep slopes of grass and sagebrush. Boldly marked White-throated Swifts zipped across the high rim of the cliffs, alongside Violet-green Swallows. A Canyon Wren sang its whistled, descending phrases. Soon a Yellow-breasted...


Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country 2017

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Jun 22, 2017

Our 2017 Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country tour was arguably our most successful ever, and the addition of a day in Del Rio contributed mightily to that success. In recent years, a very small population of White-collared Seedeaters had been discovered at a few localized spots in the Del Rio area. Our past tours have gone through Del Rio at midday en route to Big Bend National Park, but never had time for birding. With this year’s added overnight in Del Rio (which also ...


Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension 2017

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Jun 22, 2017

On the final day of our Hill Country Extension, we visited an area of juniper-covered foothills west of Uvalde. The road we were on had almost no traffic, so we were able to cruise slowly with the windows down and listen. As we rounded a bend, I heard the distinctive, jumbled song of a Black-capped Vireo right next to the road. We had seen this species two days earlier, but our views had been brief and somewhat frustrating, as the furtive vireos stayed largely hidden in the dense thickets (as...


Spring in South Texas 2017

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Jun 20, 2017

We reached the Norias Division of the King Ranch at dawn and quickly headed to the colony for a quick bathroom break before our birding began in earnest. We were laser focused on our four targets for the day (Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tropical Parula, and Audubon’s Oriole), and wanted to get to the appropriate areas for those birds as quickly as possible. Stepping out of the vans by the bathroom, it was hard not to be distracted. A Tropical Kingbird sang from...


Cuba, February 28-March 11, 2017

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Jun 12, 2017

Our second-of the-year tour to the largest of the Greater Antilles welcomed us with a mix of endemic and restricted distribution birds, unique Caribbean culture, and interesting architecture. And that’s because Cuba is an island packed with superlatives! On our first day we were already seeing unique birds, starting with views of Giant Kingbird, a bird with a huge bill, inviting discussion about its diet.  But there wasn’t time to philosophize about the natural history of eac...


Amazon River Cruise February 2017

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Jun 06, 2017

If you put together great cloud formations, impenetrable green vegetation, loud macaws either perched or flying, primates, huge rivers, pink dolphins, amazing downpours, a rich number of raptors, and the wonderful event of bird migration, you’ll have a complete picture of the Amazon as a biome. Add to this picture a never-ending mix of cultures, from Amerindian to African and Europeans, and you’ll get a holistic view. Yes, I am sure that you came to the Amazon River thinking about...


Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge 2017

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Apr 21, 2017

The first day of our Best of Belize tour began shortly after dawn in the tiny village of Crooked Tree. Our scheduled 6:15 AM breakfast was being seriously delayed by birds right around the lodge. White-fronted Parrots sailed into a large tree over the driveway. Brilliant Vermilion Flycatchers hawked insects from the fence line. Mangrove Swallows perched on an antenna over the lodge, while a Northern Jacana strolled by on the lawn. A Rufous-tailed Hummingbird visited the feeders and was follow...


Winter Rio Grande Valley 2017

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Apr 19, 2017

VENT’S Lower Rio Grande Valley tour treats participants to a one-of-a-kind birding experience found nowhere else in the United States. The days are topped with subtropical habitat consisting of an array of woodlands, grasslands, arid brushland, resacas, coastal expanses, and more. The sights and sounds of the Lower Rio Grande Valley bird life are uniquely special. We began our tour with an adult Harris’s Hawk and an adult White-tailed Hawk perched not far from the road in the earl...


Trinidad 2017

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Apr 18, 2017

The first morning at the famed Asa Wright Nature Centre is always a memorable one. We gathered on the veranda a little before 6 AM and waited for the sky to lighten enough to see birds. A Cocoa Thrush sang from the forest below, and soon the chips and buzzes of hummingbirds could be heard in the garden. A Rufous-breasted Hermit was first to be seen, and was followed quickly by a White-chested Emerald. A pair of Silver-beaked Tanagers appeared in a small tree behind the bank of feeders. Someon...


A Week in the Llanos of Colombia 2017

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Apr 15, 2017

Our weeklong Colombia tour started in Chingaza National Park (name derived from the Muiscas Amerindian), a site that offered some high Andes birding, despite the clouds that covered the páramo (Andean habitat found above tree line). There were Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, Glowing Pufflegs, wonderful flowering orchids, a skulking Pale-bellied Tapaculo and much more. After enjoying such a rich and varied avifauna, the morning gained momentum when an Andean Pygmy-Owl was found at th...


Amazon River Cruise January 2017

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Apr 14, 2017

During our January 2017 Amazon River Cruise on the Río Amazon, Río Ucayali, Río Marañon, and various tributaries of these rivers, we had generally good weather, but some rain a couple of times and rain for much of the day on Friday, which was to be our day off-ship to visit the high ground forest (terra firme). River water levels were high but about normal for this time of year, and it is to our advantage to have high water so that we can explore small tributaries,...


Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend 2017

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Apr 13, 2017

Winter birding in northern Minnesota is an exhilarating experience. The area boasts a unique array of northern specialties found both year-round and some solely during the winter months. The snow and temperatures invigoratingly grace the landscape, providing nonstop scenic views of both Lake Superior and the boreal forest among other habitats. From daily locally-sourced cuisine to the birding experience as a whole, our 2017 Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend left us with warm memories of this ...


Winter New Mexico 2017

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Jan 31, 2017

We arrived at Percha Dam State Park around 10 AM having already had a stellar morning. The drive from Las Cruces had produced several good birds including wonderful scope studies of Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon, fields of Sandhill Cranes, and a close Greater Roadrunner among others. We had barely made it out of the cars when a Red-naped Sapsucker was spotted working some nearby pines. While enjoying prolonged scope studies of the sapsucker, a Phainopepla flew in overhead, and several W...


Winter Southern Arizona 2017

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Jan 31, 2017

Our Winter Southern Arizona tour is probably best known for three specific aspects—the potential for Mexican rarities, the presence of many species found only in Arizona in the winter (especially raptors and sparrows), and the year-round presence of many highly sought Arizona specialty birds. On all three fronts, this year’s trip excelled. This winter proved to be an exceptionally good year for Mexican rarities, so we had several options of birds to chase. The crown jewel was a St...


Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2016

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Jan 10, 2017

Our second-of-the-year Costa Rica Relaxed & Easy tour was, once again, a great success. How different can it be when such a small country hosts an amazing mix of hummingbirds, tanagers, tyrant-flycatchers, toucans, and great people?  Fiery-throated Hummingbird— Photo: David Ascanio   We started the tour in the Hotel Bougainvillea, a unique place with an incredible set of gardens. There between flowering bushes, lilies, orchids, and bromeliads, we disco...


Panama's Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2016

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Jan 04, 2017

Our first morning in Gamboa (Panamá) began with a bird feeder packed with honeycreepers, tanagers, and parakeets. As we were distracted by this mosaic of colored plumages, a flashy Whooping Motmot showed from a dark corner and landed at the feeder to take a piece of banana and fly away. Hosting warm and humid weather, Gamboa also welcomed us with a Blue-chested Hummingbird disputing a feeder with the territorial Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. What a unique welcome to Panama! B...


Borneo 2016

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Jan 03, 2017

Most of our group arrived early in Kota Kinabalu before the tour began, giving them time to relax from their long travels to this magnificent island. The first two nights were spent at the lavish Shangri La Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel. Around the grounds of this superb resort, our first birding was done amidst great tropical scenery. Common birds like Zebra Dove, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-breasted Woodswallow, and Striated Heron were found easily, and the Sunda Pygmy-Woodpecker was wonderfully...


Panama: Fall at El Valle's Canopy Lodge 2016

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Nov 04, 2016

Every week at the Canopy Lodge is a week in birders’ paradise, and this year’s trip was certainly no exception. From the spectacular birding right on the lodge grounds to the misty foothill slopes of Altos del Maria to the dry Pacific lowlands, this tour offered up an amazing variety, matched with epic quality, of Panamanian birds. Crimson-backed Tanager— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We began our tour with a short, pre-breakfast walk around our hotel groun...


Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp, October 2016

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Nov 03, 2016

As we approached the forests of the Aligandi region, we noticed activity in a tall tree to the right of the road. A female Blue Cotinga was quickly spotted perched up near the top of the tree. This species was one of our targets for the morning, and while we were hoping for a male, we were nonetheless excited to see the subtly beautiful female. Several Masked Tityras darted in and out of the same fruit-laden tree. Wanting to reach the forest trail as early as possible, we loaded up our open-a...


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