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

Grand Costa Rica

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Jeri Langham: August 18, 2014

Each of the 22 Costa Rica tours I have led in July has been unique. Although we visit the same areas, the species we encounter at each location vary somewhat, just as they do when one revisits favorite areas at home. We do take extra time to locate specialties like a male Three-wattled Bellbird, which is the bird on the cover of my personalized Checklist, and Resplendent Quetzals, which are on the back cover. About 90% of the birds on the yearly Field Lists are the same, but where we find the...


Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics

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Andrew Whittaker: August 15, 2014

Our 2014 tour to this mecca of Andean cloudforest birding surpassed my wildest dreams, beating last year’s total by 11, coming in at an incredible 359 species! As to be expected, the birding highlights were many: an amazing 41 colorful species of tanagers covering every spectacular color combination imaginable, to hummingbirds (if you love them as much as I do, this is the trip for you), with 37 dazzling species producing a non-stop kaleidoscope of colors at the feeders. The holy grail ...


Lima's Coastal Marshes and Humboldt Seabird Colonies

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Andrew Whittaker: August 15, 2014

We had a great day of birding at the Pantanos de Villa reserve beach area and, after traveling south through the Atacama Desert, at the delightful seaside resort and harbor at Pucasana. The marshes were full of birds including an estimated 1,000 Gray Gulls (interesting, as they are absent other times of the year); these are unique amongst gulls, as they nest in the desert! Inca Terns— Photo: Andrew Whittaker We were able to study our waterbirds well, with a backdrop of huge...


Northern Peru's Tumbes & Maranon Endemics

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Andrew Whittaker: August 14, 2014

VENT’s return to this spectacular corner of Northern Peru, which is full of Tumbes and Marañon endemics and unique habitats, was a fantastic success! We were blessed with great weather, superb birding, and wonderful field breakfasts and lunches. Imagine, as dawn breaks, sitting down at a large table with hot coffee, steaming hot fried eggs or pancakes, fresh fruit, yogurt, and fruit juice, and always with a stunning panoramic view. Thanks to our professional cook, Aurelio, this w...


The Pacific Northwest: An Introductory Birding Tour

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Bob Sundstrom: August 13, 2014

Late July is a great time to take in the natural beauty of Washington’s tremendously scenic Olympic Peninsula. The high meadows of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains are carpeted in wildflowers and set off by deep blue saltwater bays and dark green conifer forests. It’s also an excellent time to search out the region’s diverse birdlife: from puffins and oystercatchers to grouse, dippers, warblers, and endangered murrelets—definitely an eye-catching array of birds to bri...


Avian Jewels of Arizona

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Barry Zimmer: August 11, 2014

Our 2014 Avian Jewels of Arizona tour was arguably our best ever. It seemed as if every bird we looked for appeared magically, in short time, and then allowed spectacular views. In discussing any summer tour to Arizona, you must start with hummingbirds. We had an impressive 12 species on our trip, highlighted by the Plain-capped Starthroat in Madera Canyon that visited the Santa Rita Lodge feeders about every ten minutes while we were there. This accidental visitor from Mexico is certainly on...


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

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David Wolf: August 08, 2014

Spectacular scenery and the vast Alaskan wilderness define Part II of the Grand Alaska tour. This year we kicked-off with a relaxed “flex day” around Anchorage, with some folks from both Parts I & II joining up for a pleasant day of birding south to Girdwood and back, and then we all met for a get-acquainted dinner. Our adventure began the next morning, as we traveled under gorgeous sunny skies from the Anchorage area to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Trumpeter Swan&m...


Grand Alaska Part I: Nome & the Pribilofs

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David Wolf: August 08, 2014

Grand Alaska Part I got off to a roaring start, with the group arriving in Nome on schedule on a beautiful sunny morning. There is something indescribably special about the area surrounding this old gold rush town. The mix of special breeding birds on the tundras and large numbers of migrants staging at Safety Sound and other points along the coast, coupled with the very real chance of finding some rare stray from Asia, always makes for exhilarating birding. When you throw in a full complemen...


Grand Alaska: Gambell/Nome Pre-trip

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David Wolf: August 08, 2014

A trip to Gambell village on remote St. Lawrence Island is always an adventure—and thus quite unpredictable. We began our 2014 trip with an early morning arrival in Nome, only to learn that there was widespread fog and low visibility over the entire region, putting our flight to Gambell on hold. We waited and waited, taking short strolls in the vicinity of the Bering Air terminal and finding our first 25 species of birds, but as the hours ticked away we were definitely restless and a bi...


The Nature of Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito

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Michael O'Brien: July 31, 2014

Our summer visit to Pico Bonito was a wonderful getaway to this remarkably rich country. On this tour, which has a more general natural history focus than our other Honduras offerings, we took the time to enjoy a host of reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths, and other interesting critters, in addition to a marvelous array of bird species. Our home base, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, ranks among the finest jungle lodges we’ve ever visited. Very comfortable cabins, a wonderful swimming po...


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...


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