March 1, 2022
One of the highlights of my job as CEO of VENT is talking to our tour leaders. Every time I have a conversation with one of them, I feel so grateful that VENT has such a fantastic team of leaders. I wish you could travel with all of them. Recently I had Zoom calls with Geoff Lockwood and Brian Gibbons. Geoff has led our Namibia & Botswana tour for about twenty years. His knowledge of the birds, plants, wildlife, and culture of southern Africa is truly amazing. He told me that things are going well in both of these countries. He mentioned that a pair of Spotted Eagle-Owls that nest on his roof have become life friends. We are delighted that Geoff will present a webinar on March 24 about his Namibia, Botswana & Zambia tour. I can assure you it will be superb. Don't miss it. I have co-led that tour ten times. It is an amazing trip. Geoff's photos will be wonderful.
I also had a long talk with Brian Gibbons. He recently returned from co-leading our Best of Amazonia Featuring Napo Wildlife Center and Eastern Slope of the Andes tours in Ecuador with Paul Greenfield. People who took both tours saw over 500 species. Among the many highlights he mentioned was the Giant Otter show at Napo. After Ecuador, Brian co-led our Trinidad: Rainforest & Coast tour with Rafael Galvez. Among the highlights, the group saw 26 Trinidad Piping-Guans. He said the Scarlet Ibis coming to roost was one of the greatest wildlife spectacles he has ever witnessed. Some of our leaders have great yard lists, but Brian is the only one who has observed a bird from his yard that was a new species for North America; in September 2017, after the remnants of a hurricane dissipated over Tucson, he spotted a Juan Fernandez Petrel flying over his yard.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Machiel Valkenburg’s experience and background make him the ideal tour leader for a number of VENT’s tours in Asia and Africa. On our website, Machiel is our current Featured Tour Leader. If you have not yet done so, I urge to you take a look here and find out why Machiel is such a valued member of the VENT team.
As mentioned in our last VENTFLASH, we have resumed our program of VENT Webinars. In March we offer the following:
MARCH 10, 2022: Balázs Szigeti will present Hungary & The Czech Republic: Birds & Music from Budapest to Prague. Balázs is the principal guide and founder of Ecotours Wildlife Holidays (VENT’s partner for this early fall tour, September 5-20, 2022 with Balázs and a second leader to be announced). Join us for this preview of the avian highlights of this tour, as well as the spectacular sights of the famous cities of Prague and Budapest. Register for the webinar here.
MARCH 24, 2022: Geoff Lockwood will present Namibia, Botswana & Zambia. Geoff has led VENT tours in Namibia & Botswana for many years. He will co-lead our August 21-September 7, 2022 tour with Kevin Zimmer. There is no better guide than Geoff to the marvelous spectacles of birds and mammals found in these countries in the southern part of the African continent. (A registration link will be available soon.)
If you have not yet attended a VENT webinar, I encourage you to do so. These live productions are usually 40–60 minutes in duration and showcase a select tour or region where we offer tours, or some facet of bird identification. Hosted by VENT tour leaders and illustrated with route maps, images of birds, animals, landscapes, and cultural attractions (depending on the tour), each webinar is designed to offer a more intimate feel for the destinations we visit and the experiences to be had than is otherwise available in our itineraries.
We have a wonderful selection of travel opportunities in the coming months. If you are feeling the travel bug, perhaps you would be interested in one of the following departures:
Thailand Highlights, March 12-31, 2022 with Dion Hobcroft; $8,995 in double occupancy from Bangkok. Limit 8. 2 spaces available.
Nebraska: Sandhill Cranes & Prairie-Chickens, March 15–22, 2022 with Rick Wright; $3,360 in double occupancy from Omaha. Limit 7. 2 spaces available.
Southern Israel: A Spring Migration Spectacular, March 19–April 2, 2022 with Andrew Whittaker and a local leader; $8,300 in double occupancy from Tel Aviv. Limit 12. 4 spaces available.
Yellowstone in Early Spring: Wolves, Bison, Elk & Birds, March 23–29, 2022 with Denver Holt and Glenn Klingler; $2,925 in double occupancy from Bozeman. Limit 12; 1 space available.
Cuba, March 28–April 9, 2022 with David Ascanio and a local leader; $7,995 in double occupancy from Havana. Limit 12. 4 spaces available.
Spring in South Texas, April 3-12, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and Willy Hutcheson; $3,895 in double occupancy from Corpus Christi (ends in Laredo). Limit 14. 2 spaces available.
Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension, April 12-16, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and Willy Hutcheson; $2,195 in double occupancy from Laredo (ends in San Antonio). Limit 14. 1 space available.
Nepal & India, Himalayan Paradise: Satyr Tragopan to Red Panda & More, April 13-26, 2022 with Andrew Whittaker and a local leader; $5,895 in double occupancy from New Delhi; Limit 8.
Kansas: Shorebirds on the Prairie, April 18–24, 2022 with Rick Wright; $2,950 in double occupancy from Wichita. Limit 7; 2 spaces available.
Spain & Portugal aboard the Sea Cloud: Southern Portugal Pre-trip, April 13-21, 2022 with João Jara and a local leader; $4,995 in double occupancy from Lisbon. Limit 14. 3 spaces available.
Spain & Portugal aboard the Sea Cloud, April 19-29, 2022 with Victor Emanuel, Barry Lyon, and Larry Wolff; cabins begin at $11,995 per person in double occupancy from Lisbon (ends in Valencia). Limit 48. Discount of $2,000 per person for registrations received after February 1, 2022.
Spring Birding in Spain: From the Atlantic Coast to the High Pyrenees, April 24-May 11, 2022 with Brian Gibbons and Santiago Villa; $6,895 in double occupancy from Sevilla (ends in Madrid). Limit 10. 1 space available.
Dry Tortugas, May 2–5, 2022 with Rafael Galvez; $2,295 in double occupancy from Key West. Limit 11. 4 spaces available.
Birding Across America by Train, May 18–31, 2022; with Willy Hutcheson and Rick Wright; $8,920 in double occupancy from Albany (ends in Seattle). Limit 12; 3 spaces available.
Northern Greece: Birds & History, May 14-26, 2022 with Victor Emanuel, Barry Lyon, and a local leader; $8,095 in double occupancy from Athens. Limit 14. 3 spaces available.
Greece: A Circumnavigation of the Peloponnese aboard the M/Y Harmony V, May 25-June 3, 2022 with Victor Emanuel, Barry Lyon, and Larry Wolff; cabins begin at $8,965 per person in double occupancy from Athens. Limit 46. 8 spaces available. $1,000 per person discount for registrations received February 1-May 1, 2022.
Greece: Athens Extension, June 3-7, 2022 with Victor Emanuel, Barry Lyon, and a local leader; $4,495 in double occupancy from Athens. Limit 20. 10 spaces available.
Grand Alaska: Pribilofs & Anchorage Pre-trip, May 23-29, 2022 with Kevin Zimmer and a second leader to be announced; $5,295 in double occupancy from Anchorage. Limit 14.
Grand Alaska: Nome & Gambell, May 29-June 8, 2022 with Kevin Zimmer and a second leader to be announced; $7,795 in double occupancy from Anchorage. Limit 14. 3 spaces available.
North Carolina: From the Swamp to the Gulf Stream, June 4-11, 2022 with Michael O’Brien and Louise Zemaitis; $3,795 in double occupancy from Wilmington, NC (ends in Norfolk, VA). Limit 14. 4 spaces available.
Uganda Highlights: Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and Shoebills, June 14-July 3, 2022 with Dion Hobcroft and a local leader; $12,795 in double occupancy from Entebbe. Limit 8. 3 spaces available.
In addition to the Spain & Portugal and Greece cruises listed above, space is still available on other exciting VENT cruises. To view space available on all cruises, please click here.
I hope you will find time to read our most recent “Traveler Experience.” VENT traveler Michael McNulty was a participant on a West Mexico tour led by Brian Gibbons in 2018. On December 8, 2021, Michael shared with us his admiration for Brian’s skills and expertise in “On the Trail with Brian Patrick Gibbons.” I know you will enjoy it! Read it here.
Nothing raises my spirits as much as being out in nature. Here in Central Texas, I am enjoying savoring our winter residents, especially the ducks and sparrows. Soon they will depart for their summer breeding grounds. I am also enjoying the leafless trees and bushes at a time when you can appreciate the shape and architecture of a tree. Soon they will start to bud out and have leaves. A recent highlight for me was seeing the tiny purple flower buds on a redbud. In two weeks the redbuds will be in full bloom. People who love birds and nature are so fortunate because they are keenly observant and experience the changing of the seasons intimately. The changing of the seasons has been occurring all over the world for millions of years and is different in every location. Observing these changes puts us in touch with the rhythms of life, which is especially important all our lives and even more so during difficult times. In the next few months spring will be upon us all over our country, with a marvelous succession of flowers, trees with new bright green leaves, and migrating birds. All the seasons are special, but, for many people, spring is the most glorious.
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