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

Panama: El Valle's Canopy Lodge Extension

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Kevin Zimmer: April 15, 2014

As always, the El Valle area treated us to some great birds, beautiful accommodations, and some unexpected surprises. It started, as it always does, upon our arrival at the Canopy Lodge, with the daily lodge feeder show. At peak times, it can be nearly impossible to tear a group away from the lodge feeders to go anywhere else! The activity at the feeders is often frenetic, and the diversity of tanagers, honeycreepers, and euphonias attracted is truly remarkable. To see such normally skulking ...


Panama's Canopy Tower

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Kevin Zimmer: April 09, 2014

No two birding trips to a tropical country are ever the same. The combination of a highly diverse avifauna and the subtly intertwined complexities of ever-changing weather patterns (wet versus dry seasons and their duration and onset) and how that influences fruiting cycles, flowering cycles, and insect abundance all makes for a lot of intangibles and unpredictability. However, regardless of the specifics, you know that you'll be treated to a lot of great birds and natural history. That maxim...


Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp

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Kevin Zimmer: April 08, 2014

Panama's Canopy Camp Darien lived up to our lofty expectations, on both the birding front and as yet another jewel in the Canopy Family crown of great natural history destinations in Panama. It was our privilege to be the inaugural group of birders to open the camp, and with that spirit of adventure there is always an underlying element of uncertainty and experimentation that comes with doing a tour or visiting a destination that hasn't been done before. The camp itself was a delight–it...


Cambodia

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Dion Hobcroft: April 07, 2014

Amongst the loveliest of all hotels in Asia is the Angkor Botanical Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The combination of French colonial architecture and furniture, delightful gardens, friendly staff, and refreshingly cool pool makes this a real oasis. It is home to a few birds as well, and we can enjoy such classics as Common Tailorbird, Taiga Flycatcher, Yellow-vented Bulbul, and the occasional Ashy Minivet as we settle in to our comfortable abode. Spotted Wood-Owl at Ang Trapeang Thm...


Best of Belize: Chan Chich Lodge

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Barry Zimmer: April 03, 2014

Our first morning at Crooked Tree was exceptional. It was hard to know which way to look. As soon as we exited the dining room from breakfast, our heads were spinning in every direction. Stunning Vermilion Flycatchers hawked insects from the fence posts. A flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks greeted the dawn raucously from a flooded field to our right, while a dapper Northern Jacana paraded by on its monstrous feet. A small flock of Olive-throated Parakeets darted past, followed quickly by...


Belize: A Relaxed and Easy Tour

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Michael O'Brien: April 01, 2014

For a birder visiting from the United States, we think of our Belize: Relaxed & Easy tour as the perfect introduction to Neotropical birding, with just the right mix of Central American residents and North American migrants. And, as is often the case, our first walk at our hotel near Belize City provided a nice introduction to some of the commoner species we would be seeing later on the tour. In just 30 minutes, we had our first looks at Red-billed Pigeon, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Golde...


Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals

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David Wolf: March 27, 2014

Costa Rica continues to amaze us, even after many trips over many years. There is such an astounding wealth of things for the naturalist to see and do in this small, efficient, bird-friendly country! Our 2014 "Short Costa Rica" tour took full advantage of this abundance for an action-packed week of birding, enjoying the spectacular scenery and fabulous vegetation almost as much as the birds themselves as we explored three very different environments, from the Caribbean lowlands to the high te...


India: Tigers, Taj & Birds Galore

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Dion Hobcroft: March 26, 2014

Such is the allure of the great cat that people will travel to the ends of the earth for a chance of a rare sighting. We spent our first morning exploring both Quitab Minar and Humayun's Tomb—outstanding archaeological sites and home to a bunch of birds. A Eurasian Hoopoe, crest up, greeted us at Quitab, where a perched Shikra, the common accipiter of the Indian plains, caused it to fly off in a hurry. This was followed by an Oriental Honey-buzzard. An unusual sighting was a Red-naped I...


Jamaica

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Brian Gibbons: March 24, 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...


Spring Hawaii

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Bob Sundstrom: March 20, 2014

The Spring Hawaii tour makes the most of the natural history of three main Hawaiian islands: Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu, and their superb seabirds, rare one-of-a-kind forest birds in beautiful tropical forests, lovely seacoasts and interior mountain ridges, and massive volcanoes. Hawaii also offers the most accessible volcanic realm in the world, balmy weather, and superb food. Lodging is nice too, and three of the four hotels where we stay back right up to the ocean shoreline.   ...


Baja California: Among the Great Whales

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Michael O'Brien: March 19, 2014

In a winter with harsh weather throughout much of the country, many of us on this year's Baja California: Among the Great Whales cruise were happy just to bask in the warmth for a change. But there was so much more to enjoy on this cruise aside from nice weather. From the extreme comfort of our home base, the 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird, we were able to explore this beautiful region in style. We had the privilege to visit some pristine and remote sites that are not accessible by...


Honduras: Copan

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Brian Gibbons: March 19, 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...


Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito

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Brian Gibbons: March 19, 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...


VENTflash #173

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Victor Emanuel: March 18, 2014

Dear friends, I've recently returned from the Eastern Caribbean where I co-led our Lesser Antilles Cruise aboard the Sea Cloud. In a little over a week, we traveled from Antigua to Barbados birding our way through a region that is home to some of the world's most beautiful tropical islands including Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. Legendary for their postcard-paradise scenery, these islands are equally famous to birders and naturalists for their remarkable biogeo...


Colombia: Santa Marta Mountains Extension

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Steve Hilty: March 14, 2014

This short extension to the Bogotá-Magdalena trip provides an entirely different suite of birds and a look at a different Colombian environment, culture, and work ethic. Our trip began with an early morning flight from Bogotá to Santa Marta and then a short drive southward to look for the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca. Despite the late morning visit to this site, we did manage to see (flush actually) one Chachalaca at close range, and some of you saw it several times as it ...


Colombia: Bogota, Eastern Andes and the Magdalena Valley

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Steve Hilty: March 14, 2014

It was late afternoon. We stood in the narrow corridor bordering the "Jardín Encantado," a private hummingbird garden (called Enchanted Garden) in a small town about an hour west of Bogotá. It was sunny and warm. Sipping coffee provided by the owner, we watched in amazement at the sheer number of hummingbirds visiting the garden—at any moment easily 50 to 75 individuals were buzzing back and forth among 30 strategically-placed feeders. From the far corner of the veranda, L...


Ecuador: A Hummingbird Extravaganza

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Paul Greenfield: March 11, 2014

Hummingbirds are truly fascinating and wonderful creatures no matter where you find them or how many you get to see, but our 2014 Hummingbird Extravaganza turned out to be a true celebration of these fascinating living gems in perhaps the best and most accessible hummingbird country in the world—Ecuador. During our 8-day adventure, we followed an easy transect up and over the east and west Andean slopes from the capital city of Quito in the north of this pint-sized and surprisingly biod...


Paton's Birder Haven Saved

March 03, 2014

Paton’s Birder Haven, southeast Arizona's mecca for thousands of birders worldwide, is now assured of long-term protection following a successful and spirited international fundraising campaign. American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Tucson Audubon Society, and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours worked together to raise the funds to acquire the historic property.  More than 1,000 bird-lovers—many former visitors to the Paton property—answered the call for contributions, with several...


Winter Rio Grande Valley: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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David Wolf: February 28, 2014

Within the United States the Lower Rio Grande Valley is absolutely unique for birders, a wonderland of subtropical birds and plants on our side of the border. Unfortunately, most of this special region has been altered by development, making every remaining fragment of habitat important. We spent five days checking these special spots, from the largest remaining tracts of forest at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen State Park to tiny—but productive—areas like the Edin...


Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands

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Andrew Whittaker: February 28, 2014

Our 2014 cruise to our planet's final frontier, Antarctica, was absolutely outstanding! I was thrilled to return to this magical continent and two spectacular islands (after almost 20 years). Topping this, though, was being able to share this mind-boggling experience with a fantastic group of people. My trip highlight was our close encounter with one of my most-wanted birds—the stupendous Emperor Penguin. We found one resting, sunbathing, and stretching out on an ice flow in the Weddell...


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