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

Spring in Cape May

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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...


Spring Grand Arizona

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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...


Yellowstone in Late Winter

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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

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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

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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

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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...


Bhutan

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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

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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!...


Spring Birding in Spain

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Brian Gibbons: May 31, 2018

Spain was wonderful this spring, as always. Wine, amazing food, charming villages, stunning mountain scenery, and a few birds made for an excellent trip through this rich country. Starting in the famed marshes of Doñana, we wound our way north, east, and finally southwest through this diverse country ascending mountains, birding coastal marshes, and birding the dry steppe, home to bustards and larks. Finally, we ended in Madrid with our minds full of wonderful experiences and our check...


Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country

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Barry Zimmer: May 30, 2018

In the late afternoon, we settled in behind the leader’s cabin to do our checklist for the day. We had already had a very productive day traveling from San Antonio to Concan, located in the heart of the Hill Country, and still had a visit to the Frio Bat Cave upcoming after dinner. Our first stop near Sabinal had yielded Golden-fronted Woodpecker, magnificent Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (we would tally an impressive 51 for the day), Couch’s Kingbird, nesting Cave Swallows, Black-cr...


Bolivar Beach House

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Michael O'Brien: May 30, 2018

Migration tours are always a bit of a crapshoot. Dates are locked in more than a year in advance, while weather patterns change by the hour. Typically, on these Upper Texas Coast tours, we hope for a day or two of good songbird migration and fill in the rest of our time with the bounty of shorebirds, herons, and other species that are always abundant at this season. This year’s challenge was that songbird migration was good all week, making it tricky to get to all the other spots we wan...


Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension

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Barry Zimmer: May 25, 2018

We arrived at Neal’s Lodge in midafternoon on the first day of the Hill Country Extension. We checked into our cabins and had a short break before meeting to do our checklist outside the leaders’ cabin and to discuss the evening plans. As we started the checklist, a Yellow-throated Warbler began singing in an oak right above us. We quickly located the bird and had wonderful views of this handsome species. Resuming our checklist session, we started hearing other chips of a mixed sp...


Spring in South Texas

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Barry Zimmer: May 25, 2018

On a tour filled with one successful day after another, the seventh day of our trip stood out above all others. It began along Highway 100 west of Port Isabel with wonderful scope views of an Aplomado Falcon. This striking species has become a fairly regular fixture on recent tours to this area, but such exceptional views of this highly sought bird seemed to be an auspicious beginning to our day. Whooping Crane— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We were headed out to South...


Cuba: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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David Ascanio: May 25, 2018

Our Relaxed & Easy Cuba tour wasn’t much different from a regular tour, except that we enjoyed more rest time and saw birds in a very relaxed style. Upon arrival in Santa Clara, we nailed the common and widespread Antillean Palm-Swift, as well as the endemic Cuban Blackbird. This blackbird’s closest relatives are found in Mexico–Central America and the northern Pacific Coast of South America. Besides seeing some endemic and restricted range distribution birds, we noticed...


Colorado Grouse

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Brian Gibbons: May 23, 2018

We braved 16 to 86 degrees, prairie winds, thunderstorms, sleet, and the more mundane spring snows of Colorado this year. The grouse, for the most part, performed on schedule their ritual displays, as they have for eons. The sage-grouse were strutting in the sage of North Park, the prairie-chickens dancing and fighting on the plains, and the Sharp-tails spinning in the mountains. Stunning mountain scenery and stark prairies illustrated our trip across Colorado and Kansas. Greater...


Panama: Bocas del Toro Archipelago

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Jeri Langham: May 21, 2018

Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge was built on Bastimentos Island adjacent to the large Parque Nacional Isla Bastimentos in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Archipelago. I scouted this location in January 2011 and immediately knew it was a fantastic location for VENT tours. Participants also have opportunities to snorkel, kayak, visit the bat cave, paddleboard, and fish or swim in the warm Caribbean waters. An enticing example of what awaits visitors to this marvelous birding paradise can be fou...


Jamaica

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Ann Haynes-Sutton: May 21, 2018

Jamaica is a very large island for its size—not just because of its 28 endemic species, but also for the outstanding variety of landscapes, climate, food, and culture. From the dry coastal plains, where cacti grow in close proximity to mangroves, to the moist karst limestone hills of the Cockpit Country, and the rain forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site, we got great views of wonderful birds and experienced Jamaican hospitality, culture, and ...


The Best of Costa Rica

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David Wolf: May 21, 2018

Even after many trips over many years we continue to be amazed by Costa Rica, so small in size but huge in possibilities!  There are few other places in the world where such a diversity of birds and other wildlife can be seen so readily, in such a compact area, and our 2018 Best of Costa Rica tour took full advantage of this wealth as we roamed from one side of the country to the other.  Costa Rica has done much to promote conservation, and this really paid off for us with an astoun...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: May 17, 2018

The Santa Clara airport was packed with Cubans greeting their relatives who had brought an endless amount of stuff, from plasma televisions to duffle bags loaded with clothes, electronics, and much more. The luggage belt at the airport arrivals seemed more like a storage house than an international airport! Once out of this chaotic situation, we were already searching for Cuban birds. Our goal was to see something special, but the ubiquitous Turkey Vulture showed up right away and was followe...


Northern Ecuador Hummingbird & Tanager Extravaganza

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Paul Greenfield: May 16, 2018

COLOR—all varieties and qualities of color: bright, glistening, shimmering, glowing, shining, iridescent, opalescent, glossy, velvety, opaque, pastel, gaudy, subdued, contrasting, blended, primary, secondary, terciary and on and on—could well have been the underlying theme of this year’s first Relaxed & Easy Northern Ecuador Hummingbird & Tanager Extravaganza. During this weeklong Andean adventure, we found ourselves fully immersed in a spectacular feathered festival...


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