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

Brazil: Pantanal Safari

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Jeri Langham: September 14, 2017

When my colleague David Ascanio led his first Pantanal Wildlife Safari tour a few years ago, he sent me photos of the first Jaguar they saw and told me I simply had to lead tours here after spending several decades leading tours to the Venezuelan Llanos and never getting any decent views of a Jaguar. VENT has now assigned me to lead this tour every July. Here are some passages taken from the journal I write every night for my VENT tours and then mail to the participants after I return home an...


Brazil: Iguacu Falls Pre-trip

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Jeri Langham: September 14, 2017

About eleven years ago, I had the good fortune to visit Argentina with my son Gary (now Chief Scientist for The National Audubon Society), and we made a visit to Iguaçu Falls from the Argentina side. We were very impressed, but it turns out the best views are from the Brazil side. Here are some passages taken from the journal I write every night for my VENT tours and then mail to the participants after I return home and edit them. Iguaçu  Falls  must  be  exp...


VENTflash #227

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Victor Emanuel: September 12, 2017

Dear friends, In late August I traveled to Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park where Brian Gibbons and I co-led VENT's first-ever Solar Eclipse tour. I am pleased to report that the trip was a great success. We toured with a wonderful group of people, enjoyed good birding and wildlife viewing amid one of the great landscapes of the Lower 48, and were treated to superb views of the total eclipse from atop a ridge in the Teton National Forest. Brewer's Sparrow — Photo: Greg Las...


Borneo

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Machiel Valkenburg: September 12, 2017

Our 2017 Borneo tour started in Kota Kinabalu, a lovely and picturesque city located on the South China Sea and on the western part of Sabah. On our first day we explored the Kota Belud area; due to the tip of a tail of a cyclone near Philippines, it had been raining the previous days, resulting in a very wet wetland with many interesting birds. More or less all possible egrets were found with Javan Pond-Heron, Rufous (Nankeen) Night-Heron, and Cinnamon Bittern being the best. The last was se...


Camp Chiricahua

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Michael O'Brien: September 12, 2017

Early summer of 2017 saw a stronger-than-usual fire season in Southeast Arizona, the result of unusually hot, dry conditions in May and June, coupled with an abundance of fuel following winter and spring storms. The 27,000-acre Burro fire northeast of Tucson forced the closure of Mt. Lemmon, so we had to make quick alternate plans for the first two days of our VENT youth birding camp. Luckily, there was just enough room for our group at Santa Rita Lodge, so we jumped at the opportunity to spe...


Colombia: The Central & Western Andes

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Steve Hilty: September 08, 2017

Last year I summarized this trip with the following comments: plenty of curvy roads, landslides, massive road construction projects, absolutely hoards of tractor-trailer trucks, out-sized meals for carnivores, enchanting cloud forests, spectacular mountain scenery, hummingbirds, antpittas, colorful tanagers, mixed species flocks, and remarkably friendly, helpful people. Nothing much has changed, although Doña Dora’s place near Queremal was better than ever, and a nice new hotel l...


Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics

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Andrew Whittaker: September 08, 2017

WOW! This fabulous tour is truly a showcase for mega cloud forest birding experiences in the Andes. This year’s lucky group enjoyed great weather and an incredible total of 321 species, including a staggering 45 different species of dazzling hummingbird gems equal to a wonderful 45 vividly colored tanager species! Voted top bird of the trip (with outstanding views again) was the mythical, tiny, and cute Long-whiskered Owlet. And who will ever be able to forget those drop-dead views of t...


Lima's Coastal Marshes and Humboldt Seabird Colonies

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Andrew Whittaker: September 08, 2017

Wonderful birds along with the most perfect weather greeted us for an exciting action-packed day of birding around Lima. We began at the marvelous migrant trap that is Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge, first an excursion to the beach. Here we were greeted by a fantastic family group of 3 graceful, big-eyed Peruvian Thick-knees, a very local and sought after species. A constant flurry of activity from the marshes along the seafront rewarded us with a gull feast, enjoying scope studies of Gray...


Papua New Guinea: West New Britain

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Dion Hobcroft: September 07, 2017

After settling in to the very comfortable Walindi Dive Resort, with its well-planned rooms, tasty meals, and excellent staff, we headed out for our first birding in New Britain. We met Joel, a local villager, who guided us up beyond his village into the forest. He led us to a New Britain Boobook, a small hawk-owl he keeps tabs on (and has done so for the past few years). With the elections on, I joked with Joel that we should call the owl “Prime Minister Pete.” We had actually see...


Papua New Guinea Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: September 07, 2017

We were back in the fascinating country of Papua New Guinea to indulge in the fantastic birding this remote country offers. There is no place quite like it and, while at times a bit challenging to find the birds, the rewards are immense. Including West New Britain, we recorded 334 species of birds. Here is an account of our adventures in the land of birds-of-paradise.   With “all of the termites holding hands,” we checked in, took off, cleared immigration on two borders (Aust...


Wild Alaska

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David Wolf: September 07, 2017

From our first landing, at Little Diomede, to disembarkation in Seward, our “Wild Alaska: Cruising the Bering Sea” trip took us to some of the most remote and beautiful places in North America, as we explored the tiny, isolated islands of the Bering Sea and the spectacular landscapes of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula.  This is a wild region of unparalleled beauty, where waves crash against immense cliffs and wildflowers brighten the rolling tundras, where glacier-c...


VENTflash #226: Free Webinar! Seychelles & Madagascar with Aldabra Atoll

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Victor Emanuel: September 07, 2017

Dear friends: On Wednesday, September 13, my colleague Barry Lyon and I will host a free webinar, the last in our 2017 series of webinars in collaboration with Zegrahm Expeditions, in which we'll discuss VENT's upcoming cruise: Seychelles & Madagascar with Aldabra Atoll, October 20-November 6, 2018. Seychelles and Madagascar with Aldabra Atoll For this special departure (VENT hasn't been to the Seychelles in eight years), we'll travel aboard the elegant Silver Discoverer on a...


Machu Picchu Extension Galapagos Cruise

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Doris Valencia: September 01, 2017

The Machu Picchu Extension to our Galapagos Island Cruise includes a wealth of natural and cultural attractions along the gorgeous Urubamba Valley, the high mountains of the Urubamba Range, and the fabulous World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, ending in the capital city of the Incas, Cusco. After collecting our guests from the airport, we headed south of the Cusco Valley. Our first stop, the Wetlands of Huacarpay, located a 45-minute drive from the airport, was declared a RAMSAR site in 2006 ...


Uganda Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: August 19, 2017

We were back on the road in this fabulously diverse East African country for our annual summer tour, which was again successful in the quest to see wild Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, and the most bizarre Shoebill. Beyond these charismatic mega-vertebrates we racked up over 450 species of birds and had fabulous encounters with Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, and the incredible African Elephant.  After most had assembled in Entebbe, we spent a lazy afternoon birding the garden of our...


Alaska: Barrow Extension

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Kevin Zimmer: August 17, 2017

As usual, our Barrow Extension delivered the expected mix of high Arctic breeding waterfowl, shorebirds, jaegers, and owls, with a few surprises thrown in, that have made this outpost at the “top of the world” (more accurately, at the top of Alaska) a must-visit destination for birders. King Eiders— Photo: Kevin J. Zimmer   All of Barrow’s ‘glamour’ birds were present and accounted for, starting with the eider ‘hat trick&rsqu...


Grand Alaska Part II: Anchorage, Denali Highway & Kenai Peninsula

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Kevin Zimmer: August 17, 2017

Spring came early to Alaska this year, following a winter with relatively little snow in most parts of the state.  We felt the effects on the birds throughout the entire month of our Alaska tours, and although climate irregularities had negligible impact on the species tallied, there was no denying that the breeding cycles of birds and the flowering cycles of plants were ‘off.’  By the time our Grand Alaska Part II tour commenced (on June 19), fireweed was blooming all a...


Grand Alaska Part I

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Kevin Zimmer: August 15, 2017

Our 2017 Grand Alaska Part I tour began, as always, in Nome, my favorite place to bird in all of North America.  There is something indescribably special about the area surrounding this old gold rush town.  The mix of special breeding birds on the tundra and large numbers of migrants staging at Safety Lagoon and other points along the coast, coupled with the very real chance of finding some rare stray from eastern Asia, always makes for exhilarating birding.  When you throw in ...


VENTflash #225

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Victor Emanuel: August 09, 2017

Dear friends: August brings some of the hottest days of the year to central Texas, but it also brings southbound shorebirds in increasing numbers. My favorite local birding area in Austin is the wastewater treatment center at Hornsby Bend, an excellent place to observe shorebirds in late summer. Last week, on a particularly memorable visit there, I saw 14 species of shorebirds including several species that I had not seen since spring. Baird's Sandpiper — Photo: Greg Lasley ...


Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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David Ascanio: August 04, 2017

Our tour to magical Costa Rica started in the beautifully arranged gardens of the Hotel Bougainvillea. In these gardens, we came across our first target species of the tour, the Lesson’s Motmot. It was foraging between native and exotic plants, small ponds, vines, bromeliads with brightly colored inflorescence, and flowering orchids. This brought the opportunity to give a brief explanation of old and modern taxonomy and the challenges raised with the development of molecular biology. A ...


VENTflash #224: Circumnavigation of Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island - Free Webinar!

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Victor Emanuel: August 03, 2017

Dear friends: On Wednesday, August 16, my colleague Barry Lyon and I will host a free webinar, the next in our series of webinars in collaboration with Zegrahm Expeditions, in which we'll discuss VENT's upcoming cruise: Circumnavigation of Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island, May 19-June 3, 2018. For this special trip, we'll travel aboard the beautiful Caledonian Sky, voyaging from Honshu ("mainland" Japan) north through the Sea of Japan to Hokkaido before performing a circumnavigation of Japan's n...


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