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

Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge

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Barry Zimmer: April 20, 2018

On the last evening of our tour, as we were doing our final checklist session, Emil, the bartender at Chan Chich Lodge, approached me and in a quiet voice said, “Would your group like to see a Spectacled Owl?” With an emphatic, “Oh my god, of course!”, we poured out of the bar to the driveway outside, where Emil shined his light on a tree right next to the road, illuminating a fabulous Spectacled Owl. I ran to my cabana to get a scope, while others went back for binocu...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: April 20, 2018

We took our first Cuba style meal at the Miami airport with plenty of fried plantains, black beans, and moros y cristianos (rice with black beans).  As we boarded the plane, it seemed to everyone that so many years of waiting had become reality: Cuba was only 103 miles away! Cuban Grassquit— Photo: David Ascanio   Soon after the plane touched the runway in Camaguey airport, we were introduced to a Cuban tradition: explosive hand-clapping and smiles erupted...


Morocco

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Machiel Valkenburg: April 19, 2018

Our Morocco tour started out in the historical city of Marrakech, but we left the city on the very first morning, to come back for a detailed exploration of the region by the end of the tour. We headed for the coastal city of Agadir; unfortunately for us we were teased by the weather gods with a lot of rainfall during the drive southwest. For two full days we toured the coast and some very interesting wetlands and orchards—this time the gods behaved! As this area of Morocco receives mor...


Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes

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Paul Greenfield: April 17, 2018

The Andes Cordillera is far more than just a gigantic South American mountain range. The massive ‘wall’ that makes up the Andes forms an incredible mega-rich mosaic of diverse life-zones, ecosystems, habitats, and niches that are home to a mind-boggling concentration of living organisms. It was this concentration, with a special focus on its diverse birdlife, that we set out to explore and experience during our weeklong Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes tour. Sparkl...


Ecuador: The Best of Amazonia

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Paul Greenfield: April 17, 2018

The Amazon holds the most complex and species-rich ecosystem on earth, and our Ecuador: The Best of Amazonia tour, at Yasuni Kichwa Cultural Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center, afforded us a rich sample of that reality. We initiated our incursion into this spectacular realm with what could be described as a veritable time-travel experience as we left civilization behind in the bustling Andean capital city of Quito, traveled back a century to the frontier 'oil' town of Coca, and were transported v...


Winter Southern California

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Brennan Mulrooney: April 09, 2018

Sunny and 75 degrees…just like the San Diego Tourism Authority advertises. While the East Coast has been getting hammered all winter with Aidens, Benjis, Graysons, and who knows what other named winter storms, the southwest has been experiencing unusually warm and dry conditions. That’s exactly what we encountered on our Winter Southern California tour this year. No snow in the mountains, no rain on the coast, warm daily high temperatures, and an unusual number of wintering rare ...


Uganda Highlights

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Kevin Zimmer: April 06, 2018

This was the inaugural January departure of our increasingly popular Uganda Highlights tour, and it proved an unqualified success in delivering up-close-and-personal observations of wild Mountain Gorillas, wild Chimpanzees, and multiple bizarre Shoebills.  Beyond these iconic creatures, we racked up over 450 species of birds and had fabulous encounters with Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, African Elephant, Rothschild’s Giraffe, and an amazing total of 11 species of primates.  The...


VENTFLASH #235

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Victor Emanuel: April 05, 2018

Dear friends: Spring in Washington My window to the world is the view I have of Stacy Park from the picture window on the second floor of my house in Austin, Texas. In early February, all the trees I could see, except the live oaks and junipers, were leafless. By mid-March, all except the pecans and sycamore had leaves. In thinking about this transformation, I was reminded of the description of a similar change Louis Halle observed in Washington, D.C. which he described in h...


Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands

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Andrew Whittaker: April 04, 2018

Antarctica is, without doubt, the ultimate birding and wildlife experience on our planet, truly unique, like nowhere else on earth, and this year’s unsurpassable Antarctic cruise was no exception! The final frontier—Antarctica, the Falklands, & South Georgia (the icing on the cake)—was as dramatic as ever, from immense tabular icebergs, towering ice-covered mountains, and stunning glaciers to beaches absolutely teeming with wildlife. Daily, during our amazing land-based ...


Ornithology 101 in South Texas: A Learn-About-Birds Workshop

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Denver Holt: April 01, 2018

Our previous Ornithology 101 workshops were held in November. We moved our 2018 workshop to February to avoid the extremely hot temperatures of November. We got our wish, as it was cold and rainy the first day, and then just cool with sprinkles for the rest of the class. At our opening get-acquainted dinner we discussed the workshop and its objectives. At our first lecture the next morning we reviewed the fossil record of birds and their evolution, as indicated from morphology and more recent...


Rick Wright speaks at Audubon Society of Omaha

March 13, 2018

  Saturday, March 17, VENT tour leader Rick Wright will speak to the Audubon Society of Omaha (ASO) in Bellevue, Nebraska. Sponsored by ASO and Fontenelle Forest, Rick’s presentation, “Discoveries, Rediscoveries, and Stories: John James Audubon in Nebraska,” will describe Audubon’s visit to the area 175 years ago. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.      


Panama's Canopy Tower & El Valle's Canopy Lodge

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Jeri Langham: March 13, 2018

My fabulous co-leader, Carlos Bethancourt, and everyone made it to the Canopy Tower's Observation Deck for a pre-breakfast morning of birding while sipping coffee or tea. Several Howler Monkey troops had already begun letting the other troops know they survived the night and were still defending their territories. As dawn approached we began to hear Barred, Slaty-backed, and Collared forest- falcons, plus both Rufous and Broad-billed motmots. As it got lighter, we started seeing birds on all ...


Southern India

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Dion Hobcroft: March 12, 2018

We had yet another fantastic trip to South India—highly rated by all participants for great wildlife, food, and culture. The people everywhere were fantastic, and the trip ran seamlessly. Here is an account of our adventures in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. We met up in Bangalore where we were entertained by a magician at dinner. He was so convincing that I decided to take all the birds off my world list, as I could no longer believe my eyes! The next morning...


Colombia: Bogota, Eastern Andes & the Magdalena Vallley

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Steve Hilty: March 09, 2018

Our birding route included several traditional sites in the Magdalena Valley and, for the second year in a row, also a circular loop down the eastern slope of the Eastern Andes to the bustling city of Villavicencio and a return to Bogotá via the picturesque little mountain city of Santa María. This route includes some terrific forest birding sites as well as access to the high páramo of Sumapaz National Park, which is the largest contiguous páramo in the world. Bot...


India: Tigers, Taj, & Birds Galore

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Machiel Valkenburg: March 07, 2018

This tour, one of my favorites, starts in probably the busiest city in Asia, Delhi! In the afternoon we flew south towards the city of Raipur. In the morning we visited the Humayan’s Tomb and the Quitab Minar in Delhi; both of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites were outstanding, and we all enjoyed them immensely. Also, we picked up our first birds, a pair of Alexandrine Parakeets, a gorgeous White-throated Kingfisher, and lots of taxonomically interesting Black Kites, plus a few Yellow-f...


Victor Emanuel Speaks at Mass Audubon Birders Meeting, March 11

March 06, 2018

  Victor Emanuel will give the keynote address at Mass Audubon’s 26th Annual Birders Meeting, March 11, 2018. He will speak about “Birds & Life” at 9:00 a.m. at UMass Boston. Copies of his memoir, One More Warbler, A Life With Birds, will be available for purchase at the Audubon Shop, and Victor will sign copies during the lunch break.  


Rick Wright speaks at Wachiska Audubon Society, March 8

March 06, 2018

  Thursday, March 8, VENT tour leader Rick Wright will be the guest speaker at the March Awards Banquet of the Wachiska Audubon Society of Southeast Nebraska in Lincoln.  Rick’s presentation, “Discoveries, Rediscoveries, and Stories: John James Audubon in Nebraska,” will describe Audubon’s visit to the area 175 years ago. The program will begin at 7:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public.   


West Mexico: Thorn Forest to the Sierra Madre

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Brian Gibbons: March 03, 2018

Western Mexico holds some amazing treasure, and I’m not talking about Sierra Madre gold! From the sunbaked beaches to the chilly recesses of the verdant canyons, we experienced many avian treasures; 272 species including more than 30 endemics made sure our West Mexico tour was a resounding success. Limonadas cooled us on warm afternoons, and coffee warmed us during the morning chill while the birds entertained us all day long. From our start in a weedy field in Nuevo Vallarta to the fin...


Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend

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Brian Gibbons: March 01, 2018

Meeting our first afternoon in Duluth, we had no idea it would be the warmest temperature of the trip, a toasty 11° F. The next morning we would be shivering at -18° with a Black-backed Woodpecker in our sights. The remote Superior National Forest in Lake County would chill us most deeply at -27°; who knows what the windchill was! But it was all well worth it. With a good owl year and a few others, we had an excellent trip through the North Woods with amazing scenery, great food, ...


Baja California & the Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales

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Michael O'Brien: February 27, 2018

Amazing natural beauty, delightful weather, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets were hallmarks of our 2018 Baja cruise aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird. With fascinating wildlife sightings at every turn, and an accomplished and friendly team of naturalists on board, our group had a fun-filled, relaxing, and educational vacation.  Humpback Whale— Photo: Michael O'Brien   Our adventure began among massive white sand dunes, mangrove thickets, and tran...


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