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

Papua New Guinea: West New Britain

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Dion Hobcroft: September 07, 2017

After settling in to the very comfortable Walindi Dive Resort, with its well-planned rooms, tasty meals, and excellent staff, we headed out for our first birding in New Britain. We met Joel, a local villager, who guided us up beyond his village into the forest. He led us to a New Britain Boobook, a small hawk-owl he keeps tabs on (and has done so for the past few years). With the elections on, I joked with Joel that we should call the owl “Prime Minister Pete.” We had actually see...


Papua New Guinea Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: September 07, 2017

We were back in the fascinating country of Papua New Guinea to indulge in the fantastic birding this remote country offers. There is no place quite like it and, while at times a bit challenging to find the birds, the rewards are immense. Including West New Britain, we recorded 334 species of birds. Here is an account of our adventures in the land of birds-of-paradise.   With “all of the termites holding hands,” we checked in, took off, cleared immigration on two borders (Aust...


Wild Alaska

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David Wolf: September 07, 2017

From our first landing, at Little Diomede, to disembarkation in Seward, our “Wild Alaska: Cruising the Bering Sea” trip took us to some of the most remote and beautiful places in North America, as we explored the tiny, isolated islands of the Bering Sea and the spectacular landscapes of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula.  This is a wild region of unparalleled beauty, where waves crash against immense cliffs and wildflowers brighten the rolling tundras, where glacier-c...


Machu Picchu Extension Galapagos Cruise

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Doris Valencia: September 01, 2017

The Machu Picchu Extension to our Galapagos Island Cruise includes a wealth of natural and cultural attractions along the gorgeous Urubamba Valley, the high mountains of the Urubamba Range, and the fabulous World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, ending in the capital city of the Incas, Cusco. After collecting our guests from the airport, we headed south of the Cusco Valley. Our first stop, the Wetlands of Huacarpay, located a 45-minute drive from the airport, was declared a RAMSAR site in 2006 ...


Uganda Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: August 19, 2017

We were back on the road in this fabulously diverse East African country for our annual summer tour, which was again successful in the quest to see wild Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, and the most bizarre Shoebill. Beyond these charismatic mega-vertebrates we racked up over 450 species of birds and had fabulous encounters with Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, and the incredible African Elephant.  After most had assembled in Entebbe, we spent a lazy afternoon birding the garden of our...


Alaska: Barrow Extension

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Kevin Zimmer: August 17, 2017

As usual, our Barrow Extension delivered the expected mix of high Arctic breeding waterfowl, shorebirds, jaegers, and owls, with a few surprises thrown in, that have made this outpost at the “top of the world” (more accurately, at the top of Alaska) a must-visit destination for birders. King Eiders— Photo: Kevin J. Zimmer   All of Barrow’s ‘glamour’ birds were present and accounted for, starting with the eider ‘hat trick&rsqu...


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

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Kevin Zimmer: August 17, 2017

Spring came early to Alaska this year, following a winter with relatively little snow in most parts of the state.  We felt the effects on the birds throughout the entire month of our Alaska tours, and although climate irregularities had negligible impact on the species tallied, there was no denying that the breeding cycles of birds and the flowering cycles of plants were ‘off.’  By the time our Grand Alaska Part II tour commenced (on June 19), fireweed was blooming all a...


Grand Alaska Part I

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Kevin Zimmer: August 15, 2017

Our 2017 Grand Alaska Part I tour began, as always, in Nome, my favorite place to bird in all of North America.  There is something indescribably special about the area surrounding this old gold rush town.  The mix of special breeding birds on the tundra and large numbers of migrants staging at Safety Lagoon and other points along the coast, coupled with the very real chance of finding some rare stray from eastern Asia, always makes for exhilarating birding.  When you throw in ...


Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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David Ascanio: August 04, 2017

Our tour to magical Costa Rica started in the beautifully arranged gardens of the Hotel Bougainvillea. In these gardens, we came across our first target species of the tour, the Lesson’s Motmot. It was foraging between native and exotic plants, small ponds, vines, bromeliads with brightly colored inflorescence, and flowering orchids. This brought the opportunity to give a brief explanation of old and modern taxonomy and the challenges raised with the development of molecular biology. A ...


Circumnavigation of Iceland

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David Wolf: August 02, 2017

“The Land of Fire and Ice”!  There couldn’t be a more apt nickname for this island nation, for the two great forces of volcanism and glaciation have here combined to determine both the natural and cultural landscape of Iceland.  By making a complete circumnavigation of the island on this cruise, and taking numerous excursions on land, we were able to experience both aspects in-depth. Almost all visitors to Iceland arrive at and depart from Reykjavik, as we did, and...


Grand Alaska: Gambell/Nome

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Kevin Zimmer: July 30, 2017

No two spring visits to Alaska’s Bering Sea outposts are ever the same, mainly because the migratory pulses of breeders and Asiatic vagrants alike are dictated by weather patterns that, in these high latitudes, can be simultaneously extreme and ephemeral. This year, a series of storms and prevailing winds out of the west deposited numbers of rarities to outposts across western Alaska, from the Pribilofs and the Aleutian chain to Gambell and Nome.  But, as always, timing is everythi...


Alaska Highlights

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Barry Zimmer: July 25, 2017

“Oh my God, there’s a Gyrfalcon right next to the road being chased by Long-tailed Jaegers!” I yelled, as I brought the van to a quick halt. There aren’t many places around where one can utter those words, but such are the possibilities in Nome, Alaska. Nome is one of my favorite birding places on the planet, and all of the reasons why were on display on this year’s Alaska Highlights tour. Bluethroat— Photo: Barry Zimmer   Three ro...


Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the M/V Evolution

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Michael O'Brien: July 20, 2017

It’s hardly an overstatement to say that the Galápagos Islands are among the most unique places on earth. Lying some 600 miles off mainland Ecuador has given life here the chance to evolve in its own direction. The unusual animals of this special place showcase how evolution works in an isolated environment. As an added bonus, a ruggedly beautiful landscape coupled with delightful weather, interesting geologic history, and abundant and approachable wildlife makes the Galáp...


Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise

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Paul Greenfield: July 20, 2017

Our June Tandayapa Pre-trip offered up a hearty taste of Ecuador’s highly biodiverse Andes, while designed to complement and serve as a comparison with the famed and markedly different Galapagos Archipelago that our group was preparing to visit. This country’s continental northwest region certainly holds a treasure-trove of avian and other natural goodies, although it can also expose its challenges, and this trip was no exception. As we initiated our adventure, we were witness to ...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: July 20, 2017

Cuba, the largest of the Antilles, welcomed us with Greater Antillean Grackles, Cuban Martin, and Cuban Cowbirds flying around the picturesque city of Camaguey. Add to the scene Cubans greeting relatives coming from abroad and old American cars running in the streets. We began to realize just how different this country is from what we had expected.  Adding to these first impressions, during the first night we experienced one of the best shows of the whole tour with a Flamenco show and pa...


California Specialties

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Jeri Langham: July 20, 2017

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 31 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...


Southern England: Birds & History

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Andrew Whittaker: July 18, 2017

During an English spring at its best in Kent, the “Garden of England,” every day we experienced a marvelous mix of spectacular birding and delving back into the enthralling English history from Roman times to World War II. This magical combination is always a winner, resulting in a tremendously successful tour. Running this tour in spring ensured we would hit England at the most beautiful time of the year, with migration in full swing, perfect fresh breeding plumage, and woods ful...


Dry Tortugas

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Rafael Galvez: July 17, 2017

The Dry Tortugas never disappoints! During this tour we found a great representation of migrants and Caribbean specialties, and experienced close encounters with the colonial birds that breed exclusively in the archipelago. Highlights were many, including marine turtles, dolphins, and the company of a fun group of tour participants. Antillean Nighthawk— Photo: Rafael Galvez   What makes our VENT tour to the Dry Tortugas special is that we get to spend an extend...


South Florida & The Keys

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Rafael Galvez: July 17, 2017

South Florida in the spring can be a magical experience, filled with untold avian possibilities: hundreds of migratory species stopping over the region during northbound flights, returning Caribbean breeders settling in their territories, and the prospect of vagrants from the Tropics. This spring season, the region experienced an extraordinary record of Caribbean vagrants, unmatched by no other season in recent history. With relatively little effort, we saw three vagrants during our tour &nda...


Japan in Spring

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Brad Schram: July 14, 2017

As the evening of May 7 approached, all had safely arrived at Excel Hotel Tokyu in Terminal 2, Haneda International Airport, Tokyo for our tour of Japan’s offshore island highlights.  Meeting in the lobby at 7 PM, we proceeded to the dining room for an excellent meal and became acquainted.  Tales of travel and brief local birding excursions were exchanged before Kaz briefed us on the next day’s flight to Shonai Airport and onward to Sakata to begin our tour. ...


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