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Catch up on the latest news from Victor Emanuel Nature Tours by reading the latest VENTflash.

Cape May: A Birding Workshop

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Louise Zemaitis: October 31, 2014

When conducting a birding workshop centered on migration and migratory birds, one is at the whim of the wind. At the southern tip of New Jersey, the Cape May peninsula serves as an avian funnel for birds heading south on their autumn migration. But these birds are much more concentrated when winds blow out of the northwest. Well, it just so happened that our 2014 workshop arrived in Cape May with a stiff wind blowing out of the northwest— it was on! American Kestrel— Phot...


Little St. Simons Island

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David Wolf: October 27, 2014

The concept of a “birding workshop” is a simple one: by employing careful observation techniques and in-the-field discussion we build better birding skills. We learn, and we become better at our endlessly fascinating quest to enjoy these living jewels and the natural world around them. There couldn’t be a nicer place to do this than Little St. Simons Island in early October, and this was our stage for a very productive long weekend. There are many sides to Little St. Simons ...


Peru Manu: Machu Picchu Extension

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Steve Hilty: October 20, 2014

The combination of birds, scenery, and history is incomparable on this trip. The Machu Picchu ruins, as always, remain impressionable, mysterious, and evocative—the more so, perhaps, because so little is known of their origins, and because of the breathtaking location. The ruins of Machu Picchu are indeed one of the world’s great travel destinations, but they are, in themselves, just one chapter in a long and fascinating history of human occupation of the Urubamba River Valley. Th...


Peru: Manu Biosphere Reserve

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Steve Hilty: October 20, 2014

After thirty-one tours to the Manu Park and Biosphere Reserve area, you would think it would be routine. But you would be wrong. For the first time in several years we added a new site—the Wayquecha Lodge—to the itinerary, and it was a roaring success. Second, I added a couple of life birds on this trip and that hasn’t happened in awhile. Life birds aren’t my goal, but getting them for our clients is a top priority, and this trip succeeded in spades. On our first morni...


The Pacific Northwest: A September Migration Birding Workshop

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Bob Sundstrom: October 17, 2014

The rush of migration in September concentrates birds along Washington and southern British Columbia’s mountain ridges, coastal shorelines, and over the ocean itself. The September Migration Birding Workshop in the Pacific Northwest takes full advantage of nature’s timing to showcase shorebirds, seabirds, and songbirds in the midst of southward migration. The workshop participants learned in the field about a remarkable variety of migration strategies among birds found in the Paci...


Manaus, Brazil: Amazon Rainforest & River Islands

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Andrew Whittaker: October 16, 2014

Manaus is nestled deep in the heart of the greatest avian-rich ecosystem on our planet, the immense Amazon rainforest, covering a vast 2.124 million square miles (5.5 million km²). We immersed ourselves in this exciting natural history bonanza, experiencing the wonders of two of the world’s mightiest rivers (the Amazon and Negro), the river island specialties, and walking trails through towering rainforest brimming with life, incredible colorful birds, and fascinating animals. ...


Papua New Guinea Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: October 14, 2014

Our first full day of birding on this great tour was an example of why Papua New Guinea offers the most exciting birding on the planet. Leaving Port Moresby at 5 AM, we found ourselves at first light in the hill forests of Varirata National Park. It was a gray, cloudy start to the day: misty and cool, perfect birding conditions. A fruiting fig tree attracted Boyer’s Cuckooshrike, Orange-bellied and Pink-spotted fruit-doves, the dapper chestnut and black “poison-plumaged” Hoo...


Papua New Guinea: West New Britain

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Dion Hobcroft: October 13, 2014

A smooth arrival into Port Moresby gave us enough time to squeeze in a couple of hours of birding at the Parliament House building. Beyond admiring the architecture on display, we spotted some quite good birds. Amongst the species on offer were Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Coconut (Rainbow) Lorikeet, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, Black-backed Butcherbird, Brown Oriole, Gray Shrike-Thrush, and Fawn-breasted Bowerbird to mention some. Blue-winged Kookaburra, Port Moresby&mda...


Autumn Migration in Hungary

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Brian Gibbons: October 10, 2014

VENT’s first Hungary tour in a decade was a great success. Bustards, four species of eagles, falcons, nine species of woodpeckers, waders, ducks, owls, and the delightful Bearded Reedling all rounded out our list of 167 species. The weather was mild and we could have used a little more sun, but the gray skies made birding the steppe habitat more tolerable after early morning. The fields of Kiskunság revealed amazing numbers of Eurasian Marsh-Harriers staging before their southbou...


Brazil: Pantanal Safari (Birds & Jaguars) & Chapada dos Guimaraes

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Andrew Whittaker: October 10, 2014

Once again we found the fabled Pantanal simply brimming with wildlife, offering a non-stop series of highlights and living up to its well-deserved reputation as one of the premier wildlife spectacles in the world! Not surprisingly, the Pantanal is often favorably compared to African safaris, especially in recent years with incredible JAGUAR watching spectacles. This massive cat is certainly the most wanted of South America’s top five mammals and once again dominated our boat trips along...


Brazil: Pantanal Safari (Birds & Jaguars) & Chapada dos Guimaraes

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Andrew Whittaker: October 09, 2014

Once again we found the fabled Pantanal simply brimming with wildlife, offering a non-stop series of highlights and living up to its well deserved reputation as one of the premier wildlife spectacles in the world! Not surprisingly, the Pantanal is often favorably compared to African safaris, especially in recent years with incredible JAGUAR watching spectacles. This massive cat is certainly the most wanted of South America’s top five mammals and once again dominated our boat trips along...


Brazil: Alta Floresta's Cristalino Jungle Lodge

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Andrew Whittaker: October 08, 2014

The Cristalino Jungle Lodge never fails to live up to and beyond our expectations, and this year came up trumps as usual with multiple memorable birding moments, wonderful sunsets, exciting birds, clouds of colorful butterflies, and many excellent primate sightings. All this was combined with fabulous home cooking—who could ever forget those “dangerous” deserts? Blue-and-yellow Macaws— Photo: Andrew Whittaker As dawn was breaking, a vast green canopy of Am...


Autumn Grand Manan

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Barry Zimmer: October 07, 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...


Camp Chiricahua

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Michael O'Brien: September 25, 2014

If we had to pick one particular theme to characterize this year’s Camp Chiricahua, it would have to be monsoons. For the third year in a row, our annual young birder camp to Southeast Arizona was met with a strong monsoon season, which meant a healthy “second spring” of breeding activity. Great news for the birds, and for us! But this year, heavy rain dictated our activities more than usual, and made for some interesting moments—like when we had to divert a torrent of...


VENTflash #179

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Victor Emanuel: September 25, 2014

Dear friends, This month has been a special one for me as I have spent time with friends in two wonderful places: Big Bend National Park in West Texas and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Sunset at Big Bend — Photo: Barry Zimmer Two weeks ago I went with a friend to Big Bend, one of my favorite places in the world. While better-known parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone are famous for their dramatic geologic features, the magic of Big Bend lies in the vastness ...


Panama's Canopy Tower: Birds & Butterflies

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Michael O'Brien: September 15, 2014

This year’s Birds & Butterflies trip to the Canopy Tower was another fun tour, full of amazing butterflies, birds, mammals, and much more. It was also a particular privilege to be here on the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal’s opening! As expected this time of year, it rained every day, but we managed to dodge the rain most of the time, and enjoyed mild temperatures that are typical of the green season. And when we did get caught in the rain on Pipeline Road, everyone agr...


Namibia, Botswana & Zambia

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Geoff Lockwood: September 12, 2014

The coastal pre-tour gave us the usual spectacular sightings of thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, as well as a number of endemic and near-endemic larks and chats. Migratory shorebirds were starting to arrive, and the most unusual sighting of the tour was of a party of three Broad-billed Sandpipers feeding in the Walvis Bay Saltworks. This species is a regional rarity in southern Africa—and this was the first time we have recorded it on these tours. Another unusual record was of...


Brazil: Pantanal Photo Safari (Birds & Jaguars)

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David Ascanio: September 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...


Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the M/V Evolution

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Paul Greenfield: September 08, 2014

Cruising the Galapagos Islands is a truly multidimensional experience—both in time and space—on land and sea, and under the sea. It may well be the closest one will ever come to experiencing time travel, being transported back to earth’s earliest development, at times feeling like being caught in a sort of limbo within an evolutionary timeframe between two end-points…how else can those crazy Flightless Cormorants with their apparently useless, disheveled wings be expl...


Galapagos Cruise: Tandayapa Pre-Trip

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Paul Greenfield: September 08, 2014

The Ecuador: Tandayapa Pre-trip was originally designed as an opportunity to experience a “snapshot” sample of the avian riches of this extremely biodiverse South American country as a setting for comparison with the relatively austere ecosystem of the Galapagos Archipelago. It should go without saying that nature can be very unpredictable and, in reality, there is no way to actually predict what this brief 48-hour itinerary will bring. I, for one, am always surprised! This July&r...


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