April 21, 2022
Spring has come to much of Texas and is beginning in most of the country. Last week I spent four days on the Upper Texas Coast. I saw my first migrant warblers including the Hooded, Wilson’s, Black-throated Green, Northern Parula, Black-and-white, Nashville, Swainson’s, Northern Waterthrush, and Ovenbird. Other migrants returning from the Tropics included Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole, and Eastern Kingbird. At the Smith Oaks Sanctuary in High Island, the rookery of herons, egrets, cormorants, ibis, and spoonbills was a terrific sight. A new ramp allows wonderful views. The mud and sand flats at Bolivar were teeming with hundreds of shorebirds. The roadsides were filled with Indian Paintbrush and Pink Evening Primrose.
In the weeks ahead thousands of other migrants will arrive on the Texas coast. I have observed this phenomenon for over sixty-five years. Every year, observing spring migration is one of the highlights of my year. VENT's first tour started on the Upper Texas Coast in April 1976. Peter Matthiessen was on that trip. One evening Peter read a section of The Snow Leopard to the group. A few months later it won the National Book Award. The highlight of my recent visit was when my friend Richard Gibbons told me about a nearby flooded field where there were many shorebirds, including a large flock of Buff-breasted Sandpipers. I went to that field and counted 163 Buff-breasteds, the most I have ever seen. Since that species is my favorite shorebird, this observation was thrilling.
IN THIS ISSUE:
FEATURED TOUR LEADER: GEOFF LOCKWOOD
Geoff Lockwood is one of South Africa’s top birders and naturalists. He led his first tour for VENT in 1998. His expertise in birding and all aspects of natural history is complemented by a comprehensive knowledge of the history and culture of southern Africa. Learn more about Geoff on the Featured Tour Leader page on our website.
Interest in Antarctica has been running high for over a decade. VENT’s annual tour to the “White Continent” consistently sells out very quickly. Our 2022–2023 departure has been full for quite some time. To meet demand, we have added two new departures for the 2022–2023 Antarctic travel season through our partnership with esteemed cruise operator Aurora Expeditions.
Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands aboard the Greg Mortimer, November 26–December 18, 2022 with Barry Lyon; cabins start at $28,495 per person in double occupancy from Ushuaia, Argentina. Other cabin categories are available at various prices. Limit 16.
South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey (including the Falkland Islands) aboard the Greg Mortimer, December 26, 2022–January 17, 2023 with Rick Wright; cabins start at $29,495 per person in double occupancy from Ushuaia. Limit 16.
We are highly discerning with our Antarctica programs. We select only those trips that include the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island, in addition to the Antarctic Peninsula. While a visit to the Peninsula offers extraordinary scenery and a chance to set foot on the seventh continent, it is the South Atlantic outposts of the Falklands and South Georgia where most of the wildlife is found. In short, our programs are complete natural history experiences in which participants are immersed in a world of penguins, albatrosses, whales, icebergs, glaciers, and much more.
If you haven’t yet been to Antarctica, I hope you will consider joining one of these remarkable trips. Please visit our YouTube channel and view our webinar, Voyage of a Lifetime: Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands, presented by Andrew Whittaker in February 2021 and updated in April 2022.
Please contact Greg Lopez by phone (800/328-8368 or 512/328-5221) or email (email@example.com) for more information or to register for these trips.
South Africa is a land of unique ecosystems and micro-habitats that support an extraordinary sweep of birds, mammals, reptiles, and botany. Add in a tapestry of spectacular scenic delights and a plethora of cultural attractions, and it becomes clear why this country is a such a draw for so many. We are delighted to collaborate with the BirdNote public media program on a special trip to present the pleasures of South Africa, one of the world’s most beautiful countries. From the convergence of two great oceans off the Cape of Good Hope to the subtropical savanna woodlands of the world-acclaimed Kruger National Park, we present a specially tailored itinerary that embraces a paradise of wildlife-viewing and cultural attractions at the very best time of the year, when the austral winter transitions into spring and early summer.
The focus of our program, South Africa: The Western Cape & Kruger: A Birds, Wildlife & Culture Collaborative Tour with VENT & BirdNote, September 9-26, 2022, is on the Western Cape and Kruger regions—the two most diverse parts of the country—where we’ll have ample time to connect at leisure with the natural world, as well as the human world. Separated from the rest of the continent by a ring of mountains, the southwestern Cape Province is a world apart. Characterized by a pleasant Mediterranean climate, this region is scenically beautiful and home to many unique and distinctive birds, one of the most diverse floras in the world, some of the most striking landscapes on the continent, and the world-class city of Cape Town.
Kruger National Park sits at the center of the Greater Kruger Conservancy, a massive nature reserve of biospheric proportions, home to some of the largest remaining concentrations of land mammals on earth. Three days in the Greater Kruger Conservancy area include safari-style game drives that will yield sightings of most of the iconic animals we most closely identify with wild Africa including lion, cheetah, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo, along with a fascinating assortment of birds large and small, from Ostrich and Martial Eagle to an array of waterfowl, cranes, storks and more.
Also included in our itinerary are a day at West Coast National Park to view spectacular spring wildflower displays; an excursion to the Cape of Good Hope; a visit to the world-famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden; overnighting in the wine-growing Stellenbosch region; excursions to view whales, flamingos, and colonies of African Penguins; an outing to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in imprisonment; and a tour of Cape Town’s historic City Bowl. Our trip concludes with a grand finale visit to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and a tour of Soweto township. The combined safari of the Western Cape and Kruger Park represents an unsurpassed experience for the wildlife enthusiast. Accommodations range from very good to excellent. Guiding our activities will be expert naturalist Patrick Cardwell. Representing BirdNote will be Jessica Frantz, Development Director. All of our birding and cultural endeavors will be complemented by social time, stories from BirdNote, and time to enjoy an amazing African safari. Finally, we are pleased to announce that a portion of the proceeds go toward the support of BirdNote’s programs.
South Africa: The Western Cape & Kruger: A Birds, Wildlife & Culture Collaborative Tour with VENT & BirdNote, September 9-26, 2022 with Patrick Cardwell and Jessica Frantz; $10,995 per person in double occupancy from Cape Town (ends in Johannesburg). Limit 12. New registrations by June 1, 2022 receive a discount of $500.
I hope you have had the opportunity to view one of our webinar presentations, either by registering to view the webinar live, or viewing at your convenience on our YouTube channel. These presentations showcase a select tour or region where we offer tours, or some facet of bird identification. 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. Our upcoming schedule includes: (registration links will be available soon)
MAY 12, 2022: Jonathan Meyrav will present Birding in Israel, which will reference both fall and spring migration. Willy Hutcheson and Jonathan will co-lead Israel: Birds, History & Culture in the Holy Land, November 2-14, 2022. This Birds, Nature & Culture tour will visit Israel’s most important birding areas, landscapes, and historical attractions. Timed for the end of fall migration and the onset of the winter season, superb birding is virtually guaranteed. Andrew Whittaker and a local leader will co-lead Southern Israel: A Spring Migration Spectacular, March 19-April 2, 2023. Visits to all of the key sites for migrants and rare resident birds will be complemented by the opportunity to see migrants in the hand being banded, searches for rare mammals, and visits to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
MAY 26, 2022: Rafael Galvez will present Snow Leopards of Mongolia: Birds & Rare Mammals of the Mongolian Wilderness. Rafael and Attila Steiner will co-lead our September 1-15, 2022 departure. We have partnered with Ecotours Wildlife Holidays to offer this wilderness-style opportunity to see the amazing Snow Leopard, as well as a range of specialty birds and mammals.
Plans are in the works for webinars about our tour to Northern Tanzania, our Lesser Antilles Cruise aboard the Sea Cloud, and our India: Birds & Culture aboard the Maharajas’ Express train trip. Stay tuned for details!
If you are considering a VENT tour in 2022, for your convenience, listed below are all of our 2022 departures with space available.
Montana Owl Workshop, April 24-29, 2022 with Denver Holt and Matt Larson; $2,595 in double occupancy from Missoula. Limit 12. 1 space available.
Dry Tortugas, May 2–5, 2022 with Rafael Galvez; $2,295 in double occupancy from Key West. Limit 11. 3 spaces available.
Spring Grand Arizona, May 10-20, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and Glenn Klingler; $3,895 in double occupancy from Tucson. Limit 12. 1 space 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.
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.
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. 3 spaces available.
Avian Jewels of Arizona: Hummingbirds, Trogons, Warblers and More, July 11-19, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and Brennan Mulrooney; $3,395 in double occupancy from Tucson. Limit 12. 1 space available.
Washington: September Migration in the Pacific Northwest, September 11-19, 2022 with Willy Hutcheson and Glenn Klingler; $4,195 in double occupancy from Seattle. Limit 12.
Cape May: The Magic of Fall Migration, September 18-24, 2022 with Louise Zemaitis and Michael O’Brien; $2,895 in double occupancy from Philadelphia. Limit 14.
Alaskan Fall Magic: Ross’s Gull Migration & Northern Birds and Mammals, October 8-16, 2022 with Kevin Zimmer; $5,745 in double occupancy from Anchorage. Limit 7.
Autumn Grand Manan: Birds & Whales, August 29-September 4, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and a second leader to be announced; $3,775 in double occupancy from Bangor. Limit 12.
Autumn Grand Manan, Birds & Whales, September 5-11, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and Brennan Mulrooney; $3,775 in double occupancy from Bangor. Limit: 12. 2 spaces available.
Panama’s Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp, October 8-16, 2022 with Barry Zimmer and a local leader; $4,395 in double occupancy from Panama City. Limit 12. 1 space available.
Colombia: Magdalena River Valley & Western Andes: A Relaxed & Easy Tour, July 9-17, 2022 with David Ascanio and a local leader; $4,895 in double occupancy from Medellin. Limit 10. 4 spaces available.
Brazil: Iguaçu Falls Pre-trip, July 10-14, 2022 with Jeri Langham and a local leader; $2,995 in double occupancy from Iguaçu Falls. Limit 12. 2 spaces available.
Brazil: Pantanal Safari: Birds & Jaguars, July 13-25, 2022 with Jeri Langham and a local leader; $8,095 in double occupancy from Cuiaba. Limit 12. 1 space available.
Brazil: Harpy Eagle & Southern Amazon Extension, July 24-31, 2022 with Jeri Langham and a local leader; $3,995 in double occupancy from Cuiaba. Limit 10. 1 space available.
Brazil: Iguaçu Falls Pre-trip, August 15-19, 2022 with Erik Bruhnke and a local leader; $3,100 in double occupancy from Iguaçu Falls. Limit 12.
Brazil: Pantanal Safari: Birds & Jaguars, August 18-31, 2022 with Erik Bruhnke and a local leader; $8,195 in double occupancy from Cuiaba. Limit 12.
Southern Colombia: Eastern & Western Slopes of the Andes, October 6-20, 2022 with Steve Hilty and a local leader; $7,195 in double occupancy from Bogotá. Limit 8.
Guyana: Iwokrama Rainforest Pre-trip, October 17-25, 2022 with David Ascanio, Mike Braun, and Ron Allicock; $7,295 in double occupancy from Georgetown. Limit 10.
Guyana: A Special Tour Supporting the Red Siskin Initiative, October 23-31, 2022 with David Ascanio, Mike Braun, and Ron Allicock; $7,295 in double occupancy from Georgetown. Limit 10. Discount available if combined with Iwokrama Rainforest Pre-trip.
Southeastern Brazil: Best of the Atlantic Forest, October 23-November 8, 2022 with Kevin Zimmer and a local leader; $5,995 in double occupancy from Sao Paulo (ends in Rio de Janeiro). Limit 10.
Colombia: Bogotá, Eastern Andes & The Magdalena Valley, November 5-20, 2022 with Steve Hilty and a local leader; $7,195 in double occupancy from Bogotá. Limit 8. 2 spaces available.
Ecuador: Avian Jewels of the Northwest Andes, November 8-17, 2022 with Paul Greenfield and Brian Gibbons; $3,895 in double occupancy from Quito. Limit 14.
Colombia: Hummingbirds & Tanagers of the Western Andes, A Relaxed & Easy Tour, December 4-11, 2022 with David Ascanio and a local leader; $4,695 in double occupancy from Cali. Limit 10.
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.
Namibia, Botswana & Zambia: Walvis Bay Pre-trip, August 18-22, 2022 with Geoff Lockwood and Kevin Zimmer; $2,995 in double occupancy from Walvis Bay. Limit 12.
Namibia, Botswana & Zambia, August 21-September 7, 2022 with Geoff Lockwood and Kevin Zimmer; $19,895 in double occupancy from Walvis Bay (ends in Livingstone). Limit 12.
Seychelles, Mauritius, Rodrigues & Reunion, September 8-24, 2022 with Machiel Valkenburg and a local leader; Price TBA ($9,095 in 2021) in double occupancy from Mahe, Seychelles (ends in Saint Leu, Reunion). Limit 10.
South Africa: The Western Cape & Kruger: A Birds, Wildlife & Culture Collaborative Tour with VENT & BirdNote, September 9-26, 2022 with Patrick Cardwell and Jessica Frantz; $10,995 per person in double occupancy from Cape Town (ends in Johannesburg). Limit 12. Register by June 1, 2022 and receive a discount of $500.
Kenya Highlights: Masai Mara, Great Rift Valley & Kakamega Rainforest, October 30-November 17, 2022 with Machiel Valkenburg and a local leader; $12,995 in double occupancy from Nairobi. Limit 8.
Madagascar: Ampijoroa & Betsiboka Pre-trip, November 2-8, 2022 with Dion Hobcroft; $2,895 in double occupancy from Antananarivo. Limit 8.
Madagascar Highlights, November 6-21, 2022 with Dion Hobcroft; $9,995 in double occupancy from Antananarivo. Limit 8.
Central Asia: Birding the Silk Road: Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, May 2-24, 2022 with Machiel Valkenburg and a local leader; $8,295 in double occupancy from Tashkent (ends in Nur-Sultan). Limit 12.
Borneo, July 7-25, 2022 with Machiel Valkenburg and a local leader; $10,495 in double occupancy from Kota Kinabalu. Limit 8. 3 spaces available.
Snow Leopards of Mongolia: Birds and Rare Mammals of the Mongolian Wilderness, September 1-15, 2022 with Attila Steiner and Rafael Galvez; $10,915 in double occupancy from Ulaanbaatar. Limit 10. 4 spaces available.
AUSTRALIA AND THE PACIFIC
Papua New Guinea Highlights, July 19-August 1, 2022 with Max Breckenridge; $11,595 in double occupancy from Brisbane. Limit 8. 4 spaces available.
Papua New Guinea: West New Britain, August 1-6, 2022 with Max Breckenridge; $3,895 in double occupancy from Port Moresby. Limit 8.
Grand Australia Part I: New South Wales & The Northern Territory, September 20-October 6, 2022 with Max Breckenridge; Price TBA ($8,595 in 2021) in double occupancy from Sydney (ends in Ayers Rock). Limit 10. 1 space available.
New Zealand Highlights, November 30-December 18, 2022 with Dion Hobcroft and a local leader; Price TBA from Auckland (ends in Dunedin). Limit 12.
EUROPE & THE MIDDLE EAST
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. 4 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. 1 cabin 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.
Wild Scotland aboard the Greg Mortimer, May 25-June 6, 2022 with Brian Gibbons; cabins begin at $10,595 per person in double occupancy from Edinburgh (ends in Aberdeen). Limit 15. 3 spaces available. Discount of 5% when reserving a connecting departure. Discounts up to 20% off the quoted rate available while supply lasts.
Scotland, Faroes, Jan Mayen & Svalbard aboard the Greg Mortimer, June 4-20, 2022 with Andrew Whittaker; cabins begin at $13,795 per person in double occupancy from Aberdeen (ends in Longyearbyen, Norway). Limit 16. 2 spaces available. Discount of 5% when reserving a connecting departure. Discounts up to 20% off the quoted rate available while supply lasts.
Sweden: Fall on Öland, August 28-September 4, 2022 with Rick Wright; $3,240 in double occupancy from Kalmar. Limit 7. 4 spaces available.
Hungary & The Czech Republic: Birds & Music from Budapest to Prague, September 5-20, 2022 with Balász Szigeti and a second leader to be announced; $7,975 in double occupancy from Budapest (ends in Prague). Limit 14.
Caucasus Georgia: Birds, Ancient Chants & Wine, September 23-October 9, 2022 with Rafael Galvez and Attila Steiner; $8,295 in double occupancy from Tbilisi. Limit 14.
Southern Portugal in Autumn: Birds & History, September 30-October 12, 2022 with João Jara and a local leader; $6,995 in double occupancy from Lisbon. Limit 14.
Israel: Birds, History & Culture in the Holy Land, November 2-14, 2022 with Willy Hutcheson and Jonathan Meyrav; Price TBA ($7,095 in 2021) in double occupancy from Tel Aviv. Limit 14.
Space is still available on the 2022 cruises listed above, as well as our cruises to The Lesser Antilles and the Amazon River in early 2023. To view a list of current space available on all cruises at any time, click here; this will take you to a link in the “Welcome to VENT” paragraph on the home page of our website.
Like my mother was, I am a hoarder. I save letters from friends, magazines, and much more. Sometimes hoarding pays off. Recently I picked up a copy of Audubon magazine that was published in January 1981. I was delighted to find in it an article by Peter Matthiessen entitled, Peter Matthiessen’s Africa Book One, Botswana. The article described the sightings on VENT's first Botswana tour, which I co-led with Peter and John Rowlett. Reading it brought back many wonderful memories. In the same issue there was an article by Frank Graham Jr., Audubon's Field Editor, entitled The Last Naturalist. The article was about Edwin Way Teale, one of my favorite writers, who wrote North with The Spring, Journey into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter. Teale was fascinated by the progress of the seasons. He liked to quote the obscure seventeenth century British poet, William Browne, who exulted, "There is no season such delight can bring as summer, autumn, winter and the spring."
Frank Graham also wrote an article about VENT’s first summer youth camp, which appeared in the May 1987 issue of Audubon magazine. Barry Lyon’s father showed it to Barry, who signed up for Camp Cascades. Barry is now VENT’s Chief Operating Officer.
I hope you enjoy a wonderful spring.
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours | 2525 Wallingwood Drive, Suite 1003 | Austin, TX 78746
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