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

Alaska Highlights

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Barry Zimmer: July 28, 2015

An argument could be made that this was our most successful Alaska Highlights trip ever! We saw nearly every target bird, added in some nice rarities, had wonderful mammal displays, and enjoyed about the best weather possible. Bluethroat— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We started in Nome, where we were greeted with blue skies and temperatures that reached an incredible 80 degrees! Right out of the gate, we stopped at a new breeding colony of Aleutian Terns adjacent to t...


Minnesota & North Dakota

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Erik Bruhnke: July 27, 2015

Birding throughout the upper Midwest can be thrilling, and our nine-day Minnesota & North Dakota tour left us with great memories of a rich array of ecosystems. There is something to be said about getting out of the vehicle at night and hearing a Yellow Rail vocalize, and hiking through native prairie and seeing Chestnut-collared Longspurs displaying all around us. There is something about witnessing a Black-billed Cuckoo vocalizing atop aspen trees in the early morning light as the tour ...


Cuba, March 25-April 4, 2015

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David Ascanio: July 26, 2015

Our second Cuba tour of 2015 began with shocking views of Zapata Sparrow, as well as Cuban Tody, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Cuban Vireo, Cuban Martin, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Emerald, Oriente Warbler, and Cuban Blackbird. What a cocktail of Cuban endemics to start the tour! Zapata Sparrow— Photo: David Ascanio   In Cayo Coco we nailed white morph individuals of both Reddish Egret and Great Blue Heron. Additionally, several Caribbean specialties and near-endemic s...


The Nature of Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito

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Michael O'Brien: July 25, 2015

Although it may be self-evident, it’s always worth remembering that the more you look, the more you see, and VENT’s Nature of Honduras tour exemplifies this sentiment. Our home base, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, hosts astounding riches, so we didn’t need to travel far to see amazing birds, mammals, frogs, butterflies, moths, and more. And to cap things off, the lodge itself ranks among the finest of jungle lodges, with very comfortable cabins, a wonderful swimming pool (with ac...


Colombia: The Central & Western Andes

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David Wolf: July 24, 2015

Colombia, so little-known in recent decades and yet with so much going for it!  With the largest bird list known from any country in the world, plus a well-developed infrastructure, birders are once again turning their sights to this complex country that is home to the greatest montane avifauna anywhere.  On this very successful trip, our 6th run of this itinerary, we took full advantage of what Colombia has to offer, emphasizing the unique Western Andes and nearby slopes of the Cen...


Southern Britain: Birds & History

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Andrew Whittaker: July 16, 2015

Springtime magic in Kent, the “Garden of England,” offered a daily mix of exciting birding and delving back into the enthralling history of the UK (from Roman times to the present). This combination resulted in a tremendously successful tour! Running this tour in spring ensured we hit England at its best. Migration was in full swing; the birds were in smart breeding plumage, singing and displaying; the hedgerows were a blaze of color; and the woodlands were carpeted with bluebells...


Scotland in Style

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Andrew Whittaker: July 13, 2015

Breathtaking Scottish highland scenery; superb birding; a constant flush of spring greens and vibrant flowers; exploring a wealth of interesting historical sites (castles, stately homes, and battlefields); and visiting one of the world’s finest Scots whisky distilleries to sample a wee dram—what more can one ask for! All of this was combined with a wonderful group of people based in a superb historic (birding) hotel, being treated like kings, with superb meals (we all certainly ga...


Mongolia

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Brian Gibbons: July 10, 2015

Mongolia and its huge sky gave us everything. Black clouds hailed on us, gray skies snowed on us, and brown skies gave us dust storms. Yet, we had wonderful birding and truly experienced this vast steppe country even when we had blue skies. Our only forest was in the beautiful Zaisan Valley just south of Ulaanbaatar; here we found our only woodpeckers of the trip. We scored with six species. The marshes of Gun Galuut and the steppe around Hustai gave us many birds and the enigmatic Przewalski...


Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Bob Sundstrom: July 03, 2015

Just two hours east across the Cascade Mountains from Seattle, Leavenworth is a superb base for a spring nature tour in the state of Washington. Near the confluence of Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River, Leavenworth looks up at splendid snowcapped Mt. Stuart. Our lodgings for four nights sit alongside the Wenatchee River as it tumbles down from the mountains, and every guest room features a balcony overlooking the rushing river. Early morning and during afternoon breaks, the balcony is a lo...


China: Birds & Culture

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Dion Hobcroft: June 26, 2015

Our tour was very successful with largely excellent weather, smooth logistics, good food, and some great sightings. We recorded 225 species of birds including several extremely rare species: Baer’s Pochard, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Crested Ibis, Siberian Crane, and Jankowski’s Bunting leading the charge. We also enjoyed some fabulous mammals—ten species like the outrageous Golden Snub-nosed Monkey and an excellent Asiatic Black Bear. Add in a supporting cast of Great Bust...


North Carolina

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Michael O'Brien: June 24, 2015

With an abundance of good weather, good seafood, and great company, this year’s North Carolina tour surpassed expectations and was a wonderful sampling of this region’s rich avifauna. Beginning in the quintessentially southern town of Wilmington, we first headed to Greenfield Lake. Dogwoods and Bald Cypress festooned with Spanish moss, and a healthy alligator population, gave this beautiful city park a real feel of the Deep South. Although well-manicured, the lake’s swampy m...


Spring in Cape May: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Louise Zemaitis: June 22, 2015

Cape May is known for being both a birding mecca and national historic landmark. VENT’s 2015 Cape May Relaxed & Easy tour, from the Red Knot and Horseshoe Crab spectacle to the thriving backbay saltmarsh ecosystem, to The Rusty Nail’s delicious berry cobbler, enjoyed the full spectrum of what this little seaside resort has to offer. The first morning’s drive from Philadelphia took us straight to Cape Island. En route to Cape May Point State Park, we made an impromptu sto...


Dry Tortugas

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Rafael Galvez: June 18, 2015

Sometimes, the weather and bird migration come head to head in such a way that we are kept at the edge of our seats until the last moments of daybreak, sensing that an unforgettable experience could be in store. Such was the case on the eve of our departure towards the Dry Tortugas, after a tropical storm system pounded the Lower Keys with gale force winds and much rain in a manner that undoubtedly influenced our trip. The ingredients for an adventure were literally in the air. Not only were ...


South Florida & The Keys

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Rafael Galvez: June 18, 2015

The South Florida and The Keys tour was a wonderful way to experience a combination of regional bird specialties, including Caribbean breeders returning to nest in the area, established exotics, and waves of migrants. During our journey through South Florida, we delved into a diversity of habitats, ranging from the tropical to the temperate, while exploring habitats found nowhere else in North America and encountering many plant species at the northernmost edge of their ranges. South Florida ...


Montana Owl Workshop

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Denver Holt: June 18, 2015

VENT’s 2015 Montana Owls Workshop was another fun trip. We saw 6 species of owls, including Great Horned, Northern Pygmy, Boreal, Northern Saw-whet, Long-eared, and Short-eared. We had terrific looks at all species. On our first morning out, ORI (Owl Research Institute) researchers guided us to a female Northern Pygmy Owl peering from her tiny two-inch circular nest cavity entrance. She was very obliging for about 5 minutes and then retired back into the cavity, presumably to incubate e...


Spring Grand Arizona

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Barry Zimmer: June 15, 2015

An argument can be made that this was the most successful spring Arizona tour that VENT has ever run! We tallied virtually every southeastern Arizona specialty, along the way netting 9 species of owls, 9 species of hummingbirds, a very robust 15 species of raptors (not including owls), and a dizzying 19 species of flycatchers! In addition we had the good fortune of seeing 3 Mexican visitors: Plain-capped Starthroat, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, and Flame-colored Tanager. Toss in some rarities li...


Spring Birding in Spain

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Brian Gibbons: June 12, 2015

Soaring peaks, plains that stretch to the horizon, productive marshes, and more than 220 species of birds made for a wonderful trip across Spain. We drank, dined, and birded the Iberian Peninsula for sixteen exciting days. Flamingoes, sandgrouse, five eagles among twenty species of raptors, storks, spoonbills, Bluethroat, eagle-owl, gulls, Wallcreeper, Ring Ouzel, and some beautiful finches were all tallied during our tour of the delightful countryside in Spain. White-headed Duck...


Bhutan

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Steve Hilty: June 10, 2015

When I first visited Bhutan in 1996 with David Bishop, I said that a visit to Bhutan was like entering a fairy tale world. Everything seemed so different and, in some sense, much of the country did seem frozen in time, with traditions and a culture that had seen relatively little change in centuries. Even its name, Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, seemed to reflect this fairy tale setting. The country was governed by a real king, a benevolent and enlightened one to be sure, but away from the ci...


California Specialties

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Jeri Langham: June 05, 2015

When I retired from California State University in May 2008, I was ready to do whatever I desired on my first free spring since starting kindergarten. Then I received a phone call from Victor Emanuel.  Would I like to take over the late April California Specialties tour? Before I began leading tours for VENT 30 years ago, I chased vagrant birds to all corners of California. However, once I became a part-time VENT leader on top of full-time university teaching, there was no extra time. In...


Rivers & Mountains of Oregon & Washington

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Bob Sundstrom: June 04, 2015

Three downy owlets peered at their surroundings from atop a nest some 40 feet up in a large conifer. It’s a young brood of Great Gray Owls, about half grown, looking for their next meal. Not more than a hundred feet away, the owlets’ mother perches on a branch near the trunk of another tall evergreen, her body close to the trunk and all but invisible due to its cryptic gray feathering patterned just like the tree’s bark. As she gazes back and forth, her piercing yellow eyes ...


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