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

Grand Alaska: Pribilofs & Anchorage Pre-Trip


Kevin Zimmer: July 25, 2018

We kicked off our newly reconfigured Grand Alaska program with the Pribilofs & Anchorage Pre-trip, which, by all accounts, was a complete success.  But not before some early drama nearly turned the tour into just “The Anchorage Pre-Trip.”  After an introductory dinner and night in Anchorage, we transferred to the airport the next morning for our scheduled flight to St. Paul Island.  The check-in went smoothly, and the plane took off on schedule, a rarity when tr...

Circumnavigation of Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island


David Wolf: July 21, 2018

Volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons, blizzards!  All of these harsh forces of nature have combined to shape the natural history and culture of the Japanese archipelago, and nowhere is this more evident than the northern island of Hokkaido.  This is the wildest and least-settled part of Japan, and this cruise gave us the rare opportunity to bird and explore Hokkaido from a variety of port cities around the island, while comfortably based on the beautiful Caledonian Sky.  This was in...

Greece: A Circumnavigation of the Peloponnese


Barry Lyon: July 19, 2018

Sun-drenched islands, Athens and its iconic Acropolis, and the wine-dark Aegean Sea are evocative images that capture the allure of Greece. For others, particularly those who have previously traveled in Greece, it is the large multi-fingered Peloponnese Peninsula that is the preferred destination. Far removed from the sprawling capital city, the Peloponnese is a land of pastoral settings, beautiful coastlines, and remarkable historical sites that rival, even surpass, those of the mainland. It...



Barry Lyon: July 19, 2018

From the time VENT began operating Birds & History cruises in Greece, we’ve supplemented our programs with optional additional time in Athens and the surrounding areas. The impetus for our Athens Pre-trip stems from the fact that our cruises visit other parts of the country, such as the famous Aegean islands or Peloponnese, and thus miss the great historical and cultural attractions of the Greek capital, in addition to a range of wonderful birds. Thus, the addition of an Athens Pre-...

Birding Across America by Train


Michael O'Brien: July 17, 2018

We completed another exciting cross-country adventure this spring and were especially fortunate to have beautiful weather through most of our birding segments, and only minimal delays on the train. Our journey brought us to an incredible array of habitats, some amazing scenery, and an outstanding selection of birds including many local specialties. But just as exciting, we got to see the countryside go by from the charming confines of an Amtrak train, with the ambiance of a bygone era when tr...

Scotland in Style: Birds & History


Andrew Whittaker: July 17, 2018

There is an extremely good reason why Scotland is often referred to as Bonny Scotland. This year, more than ever, the scenery was breathtaking, and we enjoyed superb birding amongst vibrantly colorful glens rich both in wildflowers and the incredible fresh hues of spring greens. This tour was a wonderful combination of delving into a wealth of Scottish history, from castles and stately homes to wild windswept battlefields, and warming up the cockles of our hearts with a wee dram on a visit to...

Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito


Erik Bruhnke: July 17, 2018

Every day of our Honduras Pico Bonito tour was a unique birding adventure from the moment we arrived until the end of the last afternoon. The staff at Pico Bonito welcomed us with open arms and fruitful drinks. In addition to delectable dining experiences every day, our top-notch local guide, Olbin Benjarano, took extraordinarily good care of us. The entire visit to Honduras was above and beyond, and it all started with our first footsteps at the lodge entrance. Our first day of birding was a...

Dry Tortugas


Rafael Galvez: July 12, 2018

As if we weren’t thrilled enough to be going to the Dry Tortugas, our excitement increased when we woke up the first morning to find the seas filled with Audubon’s Shearwaters. This small shearwater of the tropical Atlantic is generally solitary, and during most circumstances we are fortunate when we see two or three. By midmorning, we were all out on the bow’s deck enjoying a couple of thousand Audubon’s Shearwaters, many of them cruising past our boat or feeding on t...

South Florida & The Keys


Rafael Galvez: July 12, 2018

We had barely stepped out of the van during our first stop birding together, and the trees in the parking lot at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West had dozens of warblers of several species darting in and out. Right away we saw many Cape Mays, Tennessees, and Black-and-whites in a single tree. That same Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera—a native coastal hardwood that is typically in bloom in April) had American Redstarts, Northern Parulas, Indigo Buntings, and a fleeting Yellow-billed...

Japan in Spring


Kaz Shinoda: July 09, 2018

On May 10, right after enjoying an excellent view of a flock of three Japanese Murrelets on our ferry trip to Tobishima, we found spring migration in full swing on this small islet in the Sea of Japan. Yellow-browed Warblers were seen and heard here and there as soon as we started birding on the plateau of the island, where we ambled along a path on the quest to find migrating birds amid lovely vegetable gardens and forests on either side. Believe it or not, Yellow-browed Warbler is a rare tr...

Spring in Cape May


Louise Zemaitis: July 09, 2018

With spring birding comes an element of anticipation. As the landscape greens and flowers begin to bloom, colorful Neotropical migrants arrive, joining the renewed chorus. VENT’s 2018 Spring in Cape May: Relaxed and Easy tour experienced some of the best of what the spring season has to offer. Perhaps the best surprise of the tour was our entire first morning’s outing. A short pre-checkout birdwalk at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge turned into a warbler extravaganza! The prev...



Victor Emanuel: June 27, 2018

Dear friends, At first glance, early summer in central Texas may seem comparatively uninteresting for birds and nature. The migrant birds of spring have long since passed through, and the local breeders have mostly stopped singing to tend nests and nestlings. Moreover, the "dog days" of summer have arrived with daily temperatures rising into the nineties. However, if one is willing to adjust his or her expectations, early summer is still a fine time to be outdoors. For example, a late June bi...

Spring Grand Arizona


Jacob Drucker: June 21, 2018

Nowhere else in the United States is a better lesson in biogeography than southeast Arizona. Whether appreciating how rainfall and elevation affect the habitat gradients within the “Sky Island” matrix of mountain ranges, the plethora of adaptations that the flora and fauna have evolved to cope with life in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, or the dramatic influence of the Madrean line on species distributions, it is impossible to avoid thinking about the forces that make this re...



Victor Emanuel: June 13, 2018

Dear friends, Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in the history and culture of ancient Greece. Fifteen years ago, I met Dr. Paul Woodruff, who teaches philosophy and classics at the University of Texas, Austin. We became fast friends and discussed the possibility of putting together a tour to Greece. That conversation led to VENT's first-ever Greece tour, a Birds & History cruise from Athens to Istanbul that I led in 2005 with Paul and VENT colleague Barry Lyon. Including...

Yellowstone in Late Winter


Denver Holt: June 12, 2018

Our 2018 Yellowstone trip lived up to expectations. Our base camp was Chico Hot Springs resort, a noted old Montana Dude Ranch and Hotel. Chico is about 30 miles from the north entrance in Gardiner, Montana. The north entrance is the original entrance dedicated in 1872. Each morning we casually drove to the park, and each morning we encountered hundreds of Elk and Mule Deer. Once arriving in Gardiner, we photographed Elk bedded down on front lawns, parks, businesses’ green space, or jus...

Southern England: Birds & History


Rick Wright: June 08, 2018

No matter how often we Americans visit Britain—and it must be true the other way around—we are struck anew, in equal measure, by the similarities and the differences between our countries. The food, the language, the driving culture all reveal our shared roots even as they make clear the fascinating ways we have grown apart over the past four centuries. Baked beans for breakfast, hides and lorries and Eton mess, and those devilishly narrow country highways to be navigated from the...

France: Birds & Art in Provence


Rick Wright: June 07, 2018

The life of the birder is a life of superlatives: we are always rejoicing in first-evers, in bests, in closests, farthests, fastests. Emotionally and intellectually, we leap from high point to high point, measured against chronological scales ranging from a lifetime to a week’s excursion to since-you-got-back-from-grabbing-your-hat-out-of-the-vehicle. Common Shelduck— Photo: Rick Wright   It seems like wherever we turned on this spring’s exploration...

Montana Owl Workshop


Denver Holt: June 07, 2018

The winter of 2017/2018 was once again a harsh one in western Montana. Once it started, winter snow was almost continuous. In fact, record amounts covered the mountains and valleys. And, as I write this report on May 10, much of the snow pack above 5,000 feet is just beginning to melt.  In fact, normally at this time of year we can drive to most of our Boreal Owl nest boxes; however, this year we are still using snowmobiles. Winter numbers of vole-eating owl species started out good, but...



Dion Hobcroft: June 04, 2018

It is fair to say that if they ironed out all the hills in Bhutan, it would be bigger than Texas. It is precisely this mountainous terrain that draws the birder to Bhutan—a remote Buddhist kingdom only comparatively recently opened up to Westerners. The highly diverse bird fauna of the Eastern Himalayas, with a Tibetan influence and a good sprinkling of Palaearctic migrants, ensures any visit will be a lot of fun, exciting, and quite an adventure. This is an account of this year’s...

Missouri & Arkansas


Steve Hilty: June 01, 2018

Our visit to Prairie State Park in western Missouri started with “…a Barred Owl perched in the open on an electric wire at dawn.”  I wrote that sentence last year. But exactly the same thing happened again this year. In early morning light, about 0610 a.m., we watched this same owl (presumably) hunting, staring downward intently, once dropping to the ground, and then moving to a slightly different location on the wire to continue staring down at the grass in the ditch!...

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