VENT Birding Tours: Photo Galleries

Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge 2017

1

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

Altamira_oriole

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

1

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...



Amazon River Cruise January 2017

Amazon_water_lily_ascanio_amazon_cruise_199a9705

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

3_common_redpolls_and_a_pine_siskin

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

1

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

1

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

Acorn_woodpecker_costa_rica_ascanio

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

African_tulip_panama_re_ascanio199a3667

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

Mv_ashytailorbird_orthotomusruficeps_malaysiaborneokotakinabalu_20160815__3_

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

1

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

1

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...


Autumn Grand Manan 2016

1

Nov 01, 2016

As we were boarding the Day’s Catch for our all-day boat trip into the Bay of Fundy, I noticed a Black Guillemot swimming in the water just ten yards or so behind the boat. I had never seen one in the Seal Cove harbor before, and we enjoyed stunningly close views of this cooperative individual. I figured this had to be a good sign of things to come for our pelagic trip that day. Sure enough, just ten minutes into the trip, and still very close to shore, we encountered a group of five Ra...


Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour, July 2016

Acorn_woodpecker_costa_rica_july_2016_david_ascanio_199a1849

Sep 27, 2016

It might have been a sunny afternoon on September 25, 1502, when Christopher Columbus (he liked to be called then Cristobal Colón) reached what today is called Puerto Limón, in the Caribbean lowlands of Middle America. I can only imagine his crew’s astonishment at seeing a pair of Great Green Macaws in flight, and some of the American natives with Collared Aracaris on their shoulders as pets. But, what really surprised Colón were the gold ornaments that many of the ...


Avian Jewels of Arizona 2016

1

Aug 26, 2016

Twelve species of dazzling hummingbirds! Seven species of owls! Nearly all of the southeastern Arizona specialty birds! Our Avian Jewels of Arizona tour had all of that and more. We began with some brief afternoon birding in Tucson, where we tallied Burrowing Owl, Tropical Kingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Tanager, and Abert’s Towhee to get our birding adventure off to a great start. Burrowing Owl— Photo: Barry Zimmer   The following day found us in...


Alaska Highlights 2016

1

Aug 01, 2016

Once again our Alaska Highlights tour lived up to its billing, providing us with incredible birds, impressive mammals, and endless awesome scenery. On our first morning, prior to catching a flight to Nome, we made a quick detour to a local park in Anchorage where, rumor had it, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers were nesting. Not only did we see both the male and female woodpeckers visiting the nest, but we also tallied a wonderful pair of Pacific Loons in breeding plumage, several Red...


VENT's 40th Anniversary Celebration

Barry_lyon_introduces_victor_emanuel_as_speaker_anniversary_celebration_ascanio_img_6738

Jun 21, 2016

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration was the biggest event in the history of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, and, I’m thrilled to say, a huge success! In bringing together 114 participants, 17 tour leaders, several of our office staff, and an array of special guests, we proudly commemorated the completion of our fourth decade of providing birding and nature tours of the highest quality. In some ways it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come and all that we’ve accomplished since...


Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country 2016

1

Jun 10, 2016

The best Big Bend tour ever? That argument can certainly be made for our 2016 Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country tour. We began our journey in San Antonio and quickly worked our way westward into the Hill Country. At our first stop (theoretically just a bathroom stop!) we tallied several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, nesting Cave Swallows, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, a skylarking Cassin’s Sparrow, a stunningly orange Bullock’s Oriole, and a Couch’s Kingbird amo...


Cuba, March 30-April 9, 2016

Cuban_blackbird_201_1842bff

Jun 10, 2016

No matter how many consecutive times I lead Cuba tours, it is always exciting, as if it were my first time ever guiding in this amazing island. Maybe this is because of Cuba’s uniqueness, or its endemic birds, or possibly the mix of Neotropical warblers, or perhaps its amazing art deco architecture mixed with contemporary history, or maybe a mix of all of these things. Cuban Tody— Photo: David Ascanio   Part of this excitement comes from the fact that eac...


Forward