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

VENTflash #173

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Victor Emanuel: March 18, 2014

Dear friends, I've recently returned from the Eastern Caribbean where I co-led our Lesser Antilles Cruise aboard the Sea Cloud. In a little over a week, we traveled from Antigua to Barbados birding our way through a region that is home to some of the world's most beautiful tropical islands including Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. Legendary for their postcard-paradise scenery, these islands are equally famous to birders and naturalists for their remarkable biogeo...


VENTflash #172

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Victor Emanuel: February 12, 2014

Dear friends, For over 20 years, VENT has been chosen by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to organize its annual Chairman's Council and Administrative Board retreats. This year's trip, from which I've just returned, was to Southwestern Louisiana in the vicinity of Lake Charles, and was co-led by the Lab's Executive Director, Dr. John Fitzpatrick; Director of Annual Fund and Stewardship, Scott Sutcliffe; Barry Lyon; and me. Northern Shoveler — Photo: Barry Zimmer We chose...


VENTflash #171

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Victor Emanuel: February 01, 2014

Dear friends, Last week I was in Titusville, Florida with VENT leaders Michael O'Brien, Louise Zemaitis, and Barry Lyon, representing VENT at the 17th annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival. This event proved to be one of the best birding festivals I have ever experienced. The organizers did an outstanding job with the exhibition hall and field trips, and the wintertime birding was fantastic. I especially enjoyed seeing Sandhill Cranes (the remarkably tame Florida subspecies)...


VENTflash #170

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Victor Emanuel: January 08, 2014

Dear friends, Warblers are my favorite birds, but in most parts of the country, few if any warbler species are found during the winter season. In their place appears another very interesting and diverse group of birds: sparrows. Unfortunately, sparrows are underappreciated by many birders since they are not colorful, can be hard to identify, and often are hard to see. However, what sparrows lack in colorful plumage is made up in lovely arrays of subtle buffs, browns, rusts, and grays. Mo...


VENTflash #169

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Victor Emanuel: December 19, 2013

Dear friends, For birders and naturalists, every season has its special joys. Winter brings great flocks of waterfowl to many parts of the country as well as raptors and sparrows. Another winter treat is the appearance of mixed species flocks in our local woods. While not as diverse as the flocks in tropical forests, they are fascinating nonetheless. Black-crested Titmouse — Photo: Greg Lasley In both the Tropics and in more northerly latitudes, birds of different...


VENTflash #168

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Victor Emanuel: December 05, 2013

Dear friends, In the spirit of the holiday season, we are offering two wonderful opportunities to give the gift of birds and nature! Once again, we are holding a Holiday Sale featuring discounts on a selection of upcoming VENT departures. I am also pleased to announce that holiday gift certificates toward the purchase of VENT tours are now available as well. I can't think of a better way to ring in the holidays than by treating yourself, a friend, or a family member to a VENT tour. I hope you...


VENTflash #167

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Victor Emanuel: November 26, 2013

Dear friends, In over sixty years of birding, I have never experienced an event like the one that occurred two weeks ago while I was co-leading a field trip at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas. Along with colleagues Dave Irons, Shawneen Finnegan, and Barry Lyon, as well as 33 participants, we departed the Harlingen Convention Center at 7:00 a.m. aboard a bus bound for South Padre Island. About 20 minutes south of Harlingen we exited U.S. Hwy. 77 and set a course for ...


VENTflash #166

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Victor Emanuel: November 05, 2013

Dear friends, About 20 years ago David Wolf, Kenn Kaufman, and I co-led VENT's first birding workshop in Rockport, Texas. The tradition continued this past March when Kenn, Barry Lyon, and I returned to Rockport to co-lead another workshop. Then, in early October, the three of us, including Kenn's wife Kimberly, co-led a fall migration workshop on Little St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast. Both of these trips were great successes, partly due to the birds we saw, but primarily because each...


VENTflash #165

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Victor Emanuel: October 22, 2013

Dear friends, In September I had the opportunity to spend a week in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland ecosystem, famous for its abundant wildlife, especially Jaguars! Female Jaguar, Pantanal, Brazil — Photo: Kevin Zimmer Nothing I previously had heard about the place adequately prepared me for the extraordinary pageant of wildlife I saw. Among the many amazing sightings were hundreds of Wood Storks and Jabirus, hundreds of Yacaré Caimans, Hyacinth Macaws, Toc...


VENTflash #164

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Victor Emanuel: September 10, 2013

Dear friends, In August I went on a vacation to Panama, one of my favorite countries for birds and nature. My first trip to Panama was in December 1978, and VENT's first Panama tour operated one month later. Those trips began a long and delightful association with that beautiful country. Over the years, VENT has operated over 100 Panama tours to almost all areas of the country. In addition to our regular birding tours, we've organized three birding festivals in Panama to raise ...


VENTflash #163

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Victor Emanuel: August 27, 2013

Dear friends, About a year ago I received a call from a woman named Ann Cullen Smith asking VENT to help save the famous Paton hummingbird property in Patagonia, Arizona. Over the years, Ann has traveled on several VENT trips, which is how I came to know her. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but what is so remarkable about her is that she also happens to be 104 years old. Let's just say that I don't get many phone calls from birders over 100 who are still trying to save birding sites. ...


VENTflash #162

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Victor Emanuel: August 13, 2013

Dear friends, During the second half of July, I co-led a marvelous Wild Alaska cruise which traveled the length of the Alaska Peninsula from Seward to Dutch Harbor and the Eastern Aleutian Islands, then north through the Pribilofs, Hall and St. Matthew, and the Diomedes before finishing in Nome. Horned Puffins — Photo: Kevin Zimmer This was my fourth voyage to the Bering Sea region. We had barely left the dock on the first afternoon when several groups of Orcas and Hum...


VENTflash #161

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Victor Emanuel: July 08, 2013

Dear friends, In June, my colleague Barry Lyon and I had the pleasure of leading three "owl prowls" for kids attending a series of summer camps just west of Austin. The camp program, "El Ranchito," is designed for boys and girls from lower income families, most of whom have never camped or spent much time outdoors. Eastern Screech-Owl - Photo: Barry Zimmer On each visit we were able to show them an Eastern Screech-Owl. Owls have a special allure since most are noct...


VENTflash #160

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Victor Emanuel: June 19, 2013

Dear friends, I spent the first weekend in June visiting friends just outside Barrington, Illinois. Down the slope from their house is a marvelous tall grass prairie that was restored over the past 10 years. Harkening back to the nineteenth century, the area was filled with a rich assortment of prairie grasses and flowers including the famous Compass plant, a composite that can grow to 10 feet tall by late summer! Bobolinks were numerous, with male birds performing courtship flights...


VENTflash #159

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Victor Emanuel: May 30, 2013

Dear friends, When I first heard about an event called The Biggest Week in American Birding, I thought the title sounded a little hyperbolic. But after spending four days in northwestern Ohio this May, attending the event for the first time, I came to realize that the name, while making a big claim, is accurate. The central birding area is the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, where I birded every day and ultimately saw 22 species of warblers. Of my many experiences, what impressed me the most was th...


VENTflash #158

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Victor Emanuel: May 02, 2013

Dear friends, After a lovely week at my beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula near High Island, I've come to the conclusion that it is impossible to see enough warblers! The sight of even one fresh-plumaged warbler in the springtime simply whets your appetite to see more. In all, I ended up seeing a total of 22 warbler species on this most recent visit. Hooded Warbler — Photo: Greg Lasley In addition to birding, I also spent time with two of the three VENT tours that visited...


VENTflash #157

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Victor Emanuel: March 29, 2013

Dear friends, This autumn marks the twenty-third year since Kevin Zimmer took over the reins of VENT's Southeastern Brazil tour program from legendary ornithologists Ted Parker and Robert Ridgely. After two years, Kevin was joined by Andrew Whittaker, and they have been enthusiastically sharing the marvelous Atlantic Forest avifauna of Southeastern Brazil with our groups ever since. Iguacu Falls — Photo: Kevin Zimmer In our opinion, Brazil is one of the great birding and wi...


VENTflash #156

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Victor Emanuel: March 25, 2013

Dear friends, Over the last month I've led two tours—an Amazon River Cruise in Peru and the Rockport, Texas Birding Workshop—that rank among the best trips I've ever been a part of. Red-bellied Macaws— Photo: Angel Cardenas Unless you've traveled to the jungles of South America, the region we call "Amazonia" is unlike any place you've ever been. When traveling to Amazonia for the first time, nothing you read or study can prepare you for the actual richness and b...


VENTflash #155

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Victor Emanuel: February 15, 2013

Dear friends, For almost 20 years, VENT has operated an annual trip for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Chairman's Council and Administrative Board. The places we like to visit with this group include a diversity of domestic and international destinations, and all offer the essential combination of great birding and excellent accommodations. This year's trip, which finished up last weekend, was to the Sueño Azul Resort in Costa Rica. This short getaway focused on the famed...


VENTflash #154

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Victor Emanuel: January 30, 2013

Dear friends, This week I returned from the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida. This festival attracts the largest gathering of birders of any birding and natural history oriented event in the country. It was started in 1998 by Laurilee Thompson, a fifth generation Floridian who can trace her ancestry in the state to before the Civil War when her great-great-grandfather came up the St. John's River and settled. Following a career in commercial fishing,...


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