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

Alaska: Barrow Extension

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Barry Zimmer: July 23, 2014

Shortly after our arrival in Barrow we headed out onto the Gaswell Road. It was difficult to make much progress, as we made frequent stops for dapper Long-tailed Ducks, stunning Red Phalaropes, and displaying Pectoral Sandpipers, all of which were wonderfully numerous. A parade of other birds caught our attention as well, including the likes of Greater White-fronted Goose, Tundra Swan, spiffy Dunlins, Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers, Lapland Longspurs, and brilliant Snow Buntings. Eventua...


Alaska Mainland

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Barry Zimmer: July 23, 2014

Easing out of the boat harbor in Seward, it was hard not to marvel at the spectacular scenery that surrounded Resurrection Bay: three hundred and sixty degrees of jaw-dropping beauty that would accompany us throughout the day. Of course we had birds on the mind, and almost immediately our attention was drawn from the scenery to passing Arctic Terns, a Northwestern Crow, a playful sea otter, and an adult Bald Eagle perched on a channel marker. Some of the stunning scenery around Sewar...


Birding Across America by Train

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Michael O'Brien: July 11, 2014

The heart and soul of this unique tour lies in the excitement and adventure of traveling cross-country. The fact that our journey takes us across three completely different physiographic regions, and an amazing diversity of species, is almost secondary. And the train itself has a special allure, mystique, and history that make for an exciting element of the tour. This year, some unfortunate train delays tarnished some of that excitement, but the silver lining was expanded sightseeing opportun...


Colombia: The Central & Western Andes

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Steve Hilty: July 09, 2014

A year ago I summarized this trip as follows: curvy roads, landslides, massive road construction projects, tractor-trailer trucks, out-sized meals for carnivores, beautiful cloud forests, spectacular mountain scenery, rare parrots, hummingbirds, antpittas, colorful tanagers, mixed species flocks, and friendly people. What else to add? This year even more species, and highlights that included Andean Condor, Tiny Hawk, a displaying Club-winged Manakin, a rare Yellow-headed Manakin, five species...


Kazakhstan: Uzbekistan Extension

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Dion Hobcroft: June 29, 2014

After running the gauntlet of the rather lengthy and complicated immigration process for Uzbekistan, we were in the city of Tashkent and off to explore the city sights and a delicious lunch of plov with guide Ramil. A huge thunderstorm rolled through, causing some flooding and downing trees. The storm saw us sheltering in a mosque in the old city centre. We observed the oldest surviving copy of the Quran, handwritten on gazelle skin parchment in the seventh century. An interesting side note w...


Kazakhstan

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Dion Hobcroft: June 29, 2014

VENT’s fourth comprehensive tour of Central Asia was our most successful yet, sighting 265 species of birds, 16 mammals, and a variety of interesting reptiles. Many of the birds were in dazzling breeding plumage and full song. Native plants were flowering extensively. We birded in a huge variety of habitats including feather steppe, irano-sindian hills, turanga woodlands, sand deserts, rock deserts, huge wetlands, alpine fields to the snow line, juniper forests, and sino-himalayan decid...


Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Bob Sundstrom: June 26, 2014

The morning of Day 3 of VENT’s 2014 Spring in the Washington Cascades Relaxed & Easy tour found us at the foot of a canyon in the Entiat Mountains, just where the canyon opens to the massive Columbia River. At the canyon’s mouth, basalt cliffs tower several hundred feet above steep slopes of grass and sagebrush. Boldly marked White-throated Swifts zipped across the high rim of the cliffs, alongside Violet-green Swallows. A Rock Wren sang rhythmic, ringing phrases, and we soon ...


Spring in Cape May: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Louise Zemaitis: June 25, 2014

“Magical” is perhaps the word which best describes VENT’s 2014 Cape May Relaxed & Easy tour. The group enjoyed great birding and nice weather interspersed with a series of very special moments. After a pleasant drive from Pennsylvania, and our first Wawa stop, we arrived at Heislerville Wildlife Management Area at just the right time: high tide. Spring high tides on the Delaware Bay press migrant shorebirds to higher ground where they rest and feed. We marveled at hundre...


Southern Britain: Birds & History

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Andrew Whittaker: June 24, 2014

Kent, the “Garden of England,” offered a daily mix of exciting birding and the enthralling history of the UK, from Roman times to the present. This combination resulted in a tremendously successful tour! Running this tour for the first time in spring ensured we found England at its best. Migration was in full swing; the birds in their smart breeding plumage were singing and displaying; hedgerows were ablaze in color; woodlands were carpeted with bluebells, while fiery poppies and ...


Minnesota & North Dakota

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Brian Gibbons: June 23, 2014

Birding the forests, bogs, meadows, prairies, ponds, and marshes of Minnesota and North Dakota produced an amazing array of birds and scenery during our eight days on the road. Obvious highlights included Great Gray Owl; a nest of Northern Hawk Owls that all fledged during our three days birding the Sax-Zim Bog; Connecticut Warbler; Black-backed Woodpecker; and a couple of singing Baird’s Sparrows. The swampy spruce-tamarack bogs held a beautiful variety of breeding warblers and other s...


Southern Portugal: Birds & History

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Rafael Galvez: June 23, 2014

VENT’s first ever Southern Portugal: Birds and History tour was a great success, granting participants countless encounters with the unique avifauna of the Iberian Peninsula in a variety of scenic habitats, complemented by visits to many historical sites, and fantastic traditional food and wine. Not only did we see 153 bird species – some of which can only be found in this region – but we also visited Roman temples, Palaeochristian ruins, Moorish castles, and strolled throug...


Scotland in Style

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Andrew Whittaker: June 19, 2014

Breathtaking Scottish highland scenery, superb birding, the constant flush of spring greens and vibrant flowers, a wealth of historical sites (castles, stately homes, and battlefields), and a visit to one of the world’s finest Scots whisky distilleries to sample a wee dram—what more can one ask for? Combine all this with a wonderful group of people based in a superb historic hotel where we were treated like kings, with superb meals (we all certainly gained a little weight) and mar...


Trinidad: Post-trip to the Lesser Antilles Cruise

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Victor Emanuel: June 18, 2014

A short extension to Trinidad was the perfect complement to our Lesser Antilles cruise aboard the Sea Cloud. Our base was the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Centre, situated at the head of a scenic valley in the island’s Northern Range. This venerable facility owns a storied place in birding lore as the first-ever lodge in the Neotropics to cater to birders. Because birds are so plentiful and easy to see at Asa Wright, many people have their first experiences with tropical birding here....


Bhutan

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David Wolf: June 17, 2014

Few places have as much to offer the adventurous eco-traveler as tiny Bhutan, “The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon.” This small country has taken big steps to preserve both its forests and its cultural heritage, in the process protecting a wealth of Himalayan wildlife. In fact, Bhutan is the main hope for the continued existence of many of these unique birds and animals. It is a mountainous country, so much so that at times it seems hard to find a square foot of flat ground anywhere...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: June 17, 2014

Our Cuba tour was the most interesting, fascinating, and intriguing tour I have ever led in the Caribbean. A mix of unique history, endemic birds, and charming people made this tour memorable for years to come. Cuban Green Woodpecker— Photo: David Ascanio As soon as we arrived at the Santa Clara airport, we drove to Cayo Coco, the fourth largest island in Cuba. There, a small flock of West Indian Whistling-Ducks welcomed us near the hotel entrance. This key, along with Cayo...


Rivers & Mountains of Oregon & Washington

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Bob Sundstrom: June 10, 2014

There are many terrific songbird specialties in the West and Pacific Northwest, but only one of them routinely splashes into an icy, rushing stream. That’s right; the American Dipper is one of a kind on the continent. On the first day of birding for the tour, there were high hopes of a dipper sighting. We had just turned up the drainage of the Little White Salmon River, stopping near a salmon hatchery. Pretty quickly, a first dipper was spotted from a viewpoint on a small bridge, but th...


Rockport, Texas: A Birding Workshop

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Victor Emanuel: June 10, 2014

The Central Texas Coast is an ideal location to host a Birding Workshop. A preponderance of birds of many varieties is found year-round here in association with a remarkable diversity of habitats. The late-winter/early-spring period is an especially good time to be here, as most of the wintertime birds are still present while the first birds of spring add color and excitement to the birding possibilities. Most important, this is also an excellent time to see the highly endangered Whooping Cra...


Spring Grand Arizona

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Barry Zimmer: June 08, 2014

We arrived at Miller Canyon in the midafternoon and immediately headed up to the set of hummingbird feeders tucked into the oak-covered hillside above us. Activity was high with numerous Black-chinneds, a few brilliant Broad-billeds, and several giant and impressive Magnificents (with their stunning purple crowns and emerald-green throats) all buzzing about the feeders right in front of us. Before long, a loud metallic trill announced the presence of a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird as well. O...


Spring Birding in Spain

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Brian Gibbons: May 30, 2014

Our explorations of the Iberian Peninsula began in the southwest part of Spain at Doñana National Park. Here the marshes, ponds, and fields teemed with waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders. The wide-open spaces of the Caceres Plains of Extremadura gave us bustards, sandgrouse, and larks. The mountains of Gredos, Picos de Europa, and the Pyrenees yielded amazing vistas and birds of the alpine and forest zones. We ate and drank our way across Spain in style, covering more than 3,000 kilomet...


Dry Tortugas

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Michael O'Brien: May 29, 2014

The Dry Tortugas have long been on the short list of “must see” destinations for birders in North America. And it’s easy to see why. A trip to the Tortugas combines a taste of tropical pelagic birding, the excitement of a migrant trap where you never know what colorful avian jewels await you, and the mesmerizing abundance of a thriving seabird colony, including several species that are rarely seen elsewhere in the United States. Such a recipe means that any trip to the Tortu...


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