VENTflash #202 June 16, 2016

Posted by Victor Emanuel

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Victor Emanuel

Victor Emanuel started birding in Texas 69 years ago at the age of eight. His travels have taken him to all the continents, with his areas of concentration being Texas, Ari...

Dear friends,

Twenty years ago VENT tour leader Steve Hilty suggested we offer a tour to the Ozarks and prairie country of Missouri and Arkansas. Although I had never been to those regions, I was certainly familiar with their reputation for natural splendor. I accepted Steve’s suggestion, and now, two decades later, I am proud that this tour has become a reliable component of our annual domestic tour offerings.

Steve Hilty & Victor Emanuel

Steve Hilty & Victor Emanuel — Photo: Bonnie Randall

Although birds have been a big part of my life since childhood, anyone who knows me is aware that my interest in the natural world extends to all aspects of nature. It is for this reason that I’ve wanted for years to co-lead this tour with Steve. Not only is this tour an all-around showcase of natural history, but the opportunity to lead with Steve, an outstanding birder and general naturalist, was a powerful draw for me. This May I finally had that opportunity.

Our Missouri & Arkansas: The Ozarks & Tallgrass Prairies tour exceeded my very high expectations. In a ten-day span we visited many wonderful areas in both of these states and saw an amazing variety of birds, wildflowers, and trees and shrubs, as well as marvelous artisian springs, waterfalls, and a huge cavern. On one day in northwest Arkansas we spent six hours canoeing the gentle Buffalo River. As anyone who has traveled with Steve knows, he provides superb natural history interpretation. Having grown up on a farm in southern Missouri, this region is Steve’s homeland. His enthusiasm for the region and for its people and landscapes was contagious. After dinner one evening in Harrison, Arkansas, we took the group to visit nearby Baker Prairie, a 70-acre tallgrass prairie reserve. Dickcissels that had just returned from Venezuela were singing atop tall stalks of grass. A huge stand of Wild Hyacinth cast a blue haze across the beautiful grassland. As we watched the sunset, Steve remarked, “I love being in these prairies.” It was a simple statement, yet a statement that effortlessly captured our collective feeling. We all loved it, and loved sharing it with a man who knew almost every birdsong, flower and plant around us.

Steve will lead this tour again in 2017, and his co-leader will be Rafael Galvez. I can assure you it will be a marvelous experience.

Missouri & Arkansas: The Ozarks & Tallgrass Prairies, May 5-14, 2017; price to be announced in double occupancy from Springfield, Missouri ($2,695 in 2016).

In this issue:

KEVIN ZIMMER TO CO-LEAD SEPTEMBER MIGRATON TOUR IN WASHINGTON
SPECIAL PANAMA OPPORTUNITY: $500 DISCOUNT ON FALL & WINTER TOURS
SUMMER & FALL TOURS WITH SPACES STILL AVAILABLE
CLOSING THOUGHTS

KEVIN ZIMMER TO CO-LEAD SEPTEMBER MIGRATON TOUR IN WASHINGTON

I am pleased to announce that veteran tour leader Kevin Zimmer will co-lead our Washington: September Migration in the Pacific Northwest tour this fall, September 19-27, 2016.

Kevin Zimmer

Kevin Zimmer

Kevin will join fellow VENT leader and Washington resident, Bob Sundstrom, for this early fall tour that promises an immersive experience in the phenomenon of autumn migration. From the forested lowlands of Puget Sound to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, and to the stately landscapes of the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll receive exposure to the stirring natural beauty and birdlife of one of the country’s most visually appealing destinations. Pacific Coast specialty birds such as Black-footed Albatross, Harlequin Duck, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Varied Thrush are expected standouts among a long list of seabirds, shorebirds, birds of prey, alcids, and landbirds. Anyone who has traveled with Bob or Kevin knows them as experts at their trade; together they make a terrific team.

Washington: September Migration in the Pacific Northwest, September 19-27, 2016 with Bob Sundstrom and Kevin Zimmer; $3,295 in double occupancy from Seattle. 4 spaces available.

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SPECIAL PANAMA OPPORTUNITY: $500 DISCOUNT ON FALL & WINTER TOURS

Panama's Canopy Tower

Panama’s Canopy Tower — Photo: Canopy Tower

Over the past 35 years VENT has operated over 100 tours to the wonderful country of Panama. More recently, the majority of our tours have been based out of the premier lodges of the Canopy family of lodges: Canopy Tower, Canopy Lodge, and Canopy Camp. I am very proud of the fact that VENT brought the first tour groups to each of these lodges. Thanks to the high volume of tours we operate in Panama, we receive better rates for lodging than any other tour company. This fall and winter we are offering eight Panama tours. Register for any of them by September 1, 2016 and receive a $500 discount.

Panama is a marvelous destination with great birds and wildlife.  We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.

Panama’s Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp, October 1-9, 2016 with Barry Zimmer and a local leader; $3,595 in double occupancy from Panama City. $3,095 with discount.

Panama: Fall at El Valle’s Canopy Lodge, October 8-15, 2016 with Barry Zimmer and a local leader; $2,795 in double occupancy from Panama City. $2,295 with discount.

Panama’s Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour, November 6-12, 2016 with David Ascanio; $2,995 from double occupancy from Panama City. $2,495 with discount.

Canopy Camp Tent #5

Canopy Camp Tent — Photo: Alex Alba Photo

Panama: Christmas at El Valle’s Canopy Lodge Pre-trip, December 22-27, 2016 with Tony Nunnery and a local leader; $2,095 in double occupancy from Panama City. $1,595 with discount.

New Year at Panama’s Canopy Tower, December 27, 2016-January 3, 2017 with Tony Nunnery and a local leader; $3,095 in double occupancy from Panama City. $2,595 with discount.

Panama’s Canopy Tower & El Valle, January 3-15, 2017 with Jeri Langham and a local leader; $5,395 in double occupancy from Panama City. $4,895 with discount.

Panama’s Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp, January 14-22, 2017 with Kevin Zimmer and a local leader; $3,195 with discount.

Panama: El Valle’s Canopy Lodge, January 21-28, 2017 with Kevin Zimmer and a local leader; $2,695 in double occupancy from Panama City. $2,195 with discount.

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SUMMER & FALL TOURS WITH SPACES STILL AVAILABLE

Over the next four months, VENT tours will operate to far-flung destinations across the world. Many of these tours are sold out, but if you’ve yet to make your summer or fall travel plans, or if you are able to travel on shorter notice, I thought you might be interested in a selection of tours that still have spaces available:

Borneo, August 12-30, 2016 with Machiel Valkenburg; $7,695 in double occupancy from Kota Kinabalu. 2 spaces available.

Great Argus, Danum Valley

Great Argus, Danum Valley, Borneo — Photo: Dion Hobcroft

South Africa: The Western Cape & Kruger National Park, August 19-September 3, 2016 with David Wolf and Patrick Cardwell; $8,995 in double occupancy from Cape Town (ends in Johannesburg). 1 space available.

Peru: Manu Biosphere Reserve: Cloud Forest, Foothills and Lowland Rainforest, August 21-September 6, 2016 with Steve Hilty and David Ascanio; $6,695 in double occupancy from Lima.

Manaus, Brazil: Amazon Rainforest & River Islands, September 5-18, 2016 with Andrew Whittaker; $5,395 in double occupancy from Manaus. 4 spaces available.

Cape May: A Birding Workshop, September 18-24, 2016 with Louise Zemaitis and Michael O’Brien; $2,050 in double occupancy from Philadelphia. 4 spaces available.

Bolivia: Endemic Macaws & More Part I: Eastern Lowlands, Beni Grasslands & Inter-Andean Valleys, October 1-14, 2016 with Hector Slongo and Andrew Whittaker; $4,495 in double occupancy from Santa Cruz. 4 spaces available.

Bolivia: Endemic Macaws & More Part II: Foothills, Cloud Forests & the Altiplano, October 13-23, 2016 with Hector Slongo and Andrew Whittaker; $3,695 in double occupancy from Santa Cruz. 4 spaces available.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

Now that we are in the middle of June, the summer has definitely arrived in Austin, Texas. While the thermometer is reaching for the upper 90s, the rich sounds of springtime birdsong have declined as our nesting songbirds are attending to the business of raising families.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, Warbler Train 2016 — Photo: MIchael O’Brien

One of our last spring tours of the year was our first-ever Warbler Train tour which traced a route aboard an Amtrak train from southern Michigan to central Texas. The feedback we received from tour participants made clear that this initial endeavor was a great success. A remarkable thirty species of warblers were seen including two of the rarest members of the family: Kirtland’s and Golden-cheeked warblers. This trip is about more than warblers, however, as many other birds and forms of wildlife were recorded. Everyone enjoyed being on the train and seeing a transect of the middle of the country. Our next train-based birding adventure will operate May 22-June 4, 2017, as we mark the return of Birding Across America by Train, a trans-continental odyssey from New York’s Adirondack Mountains to Washington State’s Puget Sound. This epic tour features the husband and wife leadership team of Michael O’Brien and Louise Zemaitis. At last count, it is already half full!

We are looking forward to a great summer season with tours from Alaska to South Africa, and from Borneo to Peru. I wish a good start to your summer, with lots of birds and perhaps a VENT tour in your near future!