VENT Birding Tours: Photo Galleries

Winter New Mexico 2017

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Jan 31, 2017

We arrived at Percha Dam State Park around 10 AM having already had a stellar morning. The drive from Las Cruces had produced several good birds including wonderful scope studies of Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon, fields of Sandhill Cranes, and a close Greater Roadrunner among others. We had barely made it out of the cars when a Red-naped Sapsucker was spotted working some nearby pines. While enjoying prolonged scope studies of the sapsucker, a Phainopepla flew in overhead, and several W...


Winter Southern Arizona 2017

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Jan 31, 2017

Our Winter Southern Arizona tour is probably best known for three specific aspects—the potential for Mexican rarities, the presence of many species found only in Arizona in the winter (especially raptors and sparrows), and the year-round presence of many highly sought Arizona specialty birds. On all three fronts, this year’s trip excelled. This winter proved to be an exceptionally good year for Mexican rarities, so we had several options of birds to chase. The crown jewel was a St...


Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2016

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Jan 10, 2017

Our second-of-the-year Costa Rica Relaxed & Easy tour was, once again, a great success. How different can it be when such a small country hosts an amazing mix of hummingbirds, tanagers, tyrant-flycatchers, toucans, and great people?  Fiery-throated Hummingbird— Photo: David Ascanio   We started the tour in the Hotel Bougainvillea, a unique place with an incredible set of gardens. There between flowering bushes, lilies, orchids, and bromeliads, we disco...


Panama's Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2016

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Jan 04, 2017

Our first morning in Gamboa (Panamá) began with a bird feeder packed with honeycreepers, tanagers, and parakeets. As we were distracted by this mosaic of colored plumages, a flashy Whooping Motmot showed from a dark corner and landed at the feeder to take a piece of banana and fly away. Hosting warm and humid weather, Gamboa also welcomed us with a Blue-chested Hummingbird disputing a feeder with the territorial Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. What a unique welcome to Panama! B...


Borneo 2016

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Jan 03, 2017

Most of our group arrived early in Kota Kinabalu before the tour began, giving them time to relax from their long travels to this magnificent island. The first two nights were spent at the lavish Shangri La Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel. Around the grounds of this superb resort, our first birding was done amidst great tropical scenery. Common birds like Zebra Dove, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-breasted Woodswallow, and Striated Heron were found easily, and the Sunda Pygmy-Woodpecker was wonderfully...


Panama: Fall at El Valle's Canopy Lodge 2016

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Nov 04, 2016

Every week at the Canopy Lodge is a week in birders’ paradise, and this year’s trip was certainly no exception. From the spectacular birding right on the lodge grounds to the misty foothill slopes of Altos del Maria to the dry Pacific lowlands, this tour offered up an amazing variety, matched with epic quality, of Panamanian birds. Crimson-backed Tanager— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We began our tour with a short, pre-breakfast walk around our hotel groun...


Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp, October 2016

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Nov 03, 2016

As we approached the forests of the Aligandi region, we noticed activity in a tall tree to the right of the road. A female Blue Cotinga was quickly spotted perched up near the top of the tree. This species was one of our targets for the morning, and while we were hoping for a male, we were nonetheless excited to see the subtly beautiful female. Several Masked Tityras darted in and out of the same fruit-laden tree. Wanting to reach the forest trail as early as possible, we loaded up our open-a...


Autumn Grand Manan 2016

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Nov 01, 2016

As we were boarding the Day’s Catch for our all-day boat trip into the Bay of Fundy, I noticed a Black Guillemot swimming in the water just ten yards or so behind the boat. I had never seen one in the Seal Cove harbor before, and we enjoyed stunningly close views of this cooperative individual. I figured this had to be a good sign of things to come for our pelagic trip that day. Sure enough, just ten minutes into the trip, and still very close to shore, we encountered a group of five Ra...


Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour, July 2016

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Sep 27, 2016

It might have been a sunny afternoon on September 25, 1502, when Christopher Columbus (he liked to be called then Cristobal Colón) reached what today is called Puerto Limón, in the Caribbean lowlands of Middle America. I can only imagine his crew’s astonishment at seeing a pair of Great Green Macaws in flight, and some of the American natives with Collared Aracaris on their shoulders as pets. But, what really surprised Colón were the gold ornaments that many of the ...


Avian Jewels of Arizona 2016

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Aug 26, 2016

Twelve species of dazzling hummingbirds! Seven species of owls! Nearly all of the southeastern Arizona specialty birds! Our Avian Jewels of Arizona tour had all of that and more. We began with some brief afternoon birding in Tucson, where we tallied Burrowing Owl, Tropical Kingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Tanager, and Abert’s Towhee to get our birding adventure off to a great start. Burrowing Owl— Photo: Barry Zimmer   The following day found us in...


Alaska Highlights 2016

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Aug 01, 2016

Once again our Alaska Highlights tour lived up to its billing, providing us with incredible birds, impressive mammals, and endless awesome scenery. On our first morning, prior to catching a flight to Nome, we made a quick detour to a local park in Anchorage where, rumor had it, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers were nesting. Not only did we see both the male and female woodpeckers visiting the nest, but we also tallied a wonderful pair of Pacific Loons in breeding plumage, several Red...


VENT's 40th Anniversary Celebration

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Jun 21, 2016

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration was the biggest event in the history of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, and, I’m thrilled to say, a huge success! In bringing together 114 participants, 17 tour leaders, several of our office staff, and an array of special guests, we proudly commemorated the completion of our fourth decade of providing birding and nature tours of the highest quality. In some ways it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come and all that we’ve accomplished since...


Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country 2016

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Jun 10, 2016

The best Big Bend tour ever? That argument can certainly be made for our 2016 Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country tour. We began our journey in San Antonio and quickly worked our way westward into the Hill Country. At our first stop (theoretically just a bathroom stop!) we tallied several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, nesting Cave Swallows, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, a skylarking Cassin’s Sparrow, a stunningly orange Bullock’s Oriole, and a Couch’s Kingbird amo...


Cuba, March 30-April 9, 2016

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Jun 10, 2016

No matter how many consecutive times I lead Cuba tours, it is always exciting, as if it were my first time ever guiding in this amazing island. Maybe this is because of Cuba’s uniqueness, or its endemic birds, or possibly the mix of Neotropical warblers, or perhaps its amazing art deco architecture mixed with contemporary history, or maybe a mix of all of these things. Cuban Tody— Photo: David Ascanio   Part of this excitement comes from the fact that eac...


Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension 2016

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May 23, 2016

April in the Texas Hill Country—certainly there could be no better way to conclude our Spring in South Texas tour than with a four-day extension to this diverse and scenic region of the state. Our 2016 trip was assuredly one of our most successful ever, with myriad highlights. Traveling north from Laredo, we passed scores of magnificent Scissor-tailed Flycatchers along the roadsides (tallying an impressive 142 for the day!). Several Crested Caracaras, a colony of Cave Swallows, multiple...


Spring in South Texas 2016

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May 22, 2016

From the magnificent Whooping Cranes of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to the rare and diminutive White-collared Seedeaters of Laredo, this Spring in South Texas tour had it all! We began our trip in Corpus Christi with promising north winds blowing all day long. A late afternoon visit to Tule Lake yielded a good introduction to the Texas Coast with a comical Reddish Egret stealing the show and dazzling Roseate Spoonbills vying for top honors. Reddish Egret.— Photo: Barry...


Spring Hawaii 2016

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Mar 31, 2016

The Spring Hawaii tour takes in the best of the natural history of three main Hawaiian islands— Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu: stunning seabirds, rare one-of-a-kind forest birds in beautiful tropical forests, scenic seacoasts and interior mountain ridges, and massive volcanoes. Hawaii also offers the most accessible volcanic realm in the world, balmy weather, and superb food. Lodging is nice too, and three of the four hotels where we stay back right up to the ocean shoreline. Our 2016 Spring ...


Bolivia: Endemic Macaws & More, Part II

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Mar 28, 2016

Part II of our 2016 Bolivia tour visits the foothills, cloudforests, and high elevation grasslands of the Andes. Read the full tour description.


Bolivia: Endemic Macaws & More, Part I

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Mar 19, 2016

Part I of our 2016 Bolivia tour visits the Andean lowlands, grasslands, and valleys to seek endemic macaws and a wealth of other seldom seen South American birds. Read the full tour description.


Trinidad 2016

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Mar 16, 2016

Fewer than two hundred are believed to exist in the world. Aware of its drastic decline in recent decades and also of the lack of sightings on recent tours, I felt we had little, if any, chance of seeing the Trinidad Piping-Guan, one of the world’s rarest birds. Our local guide had informed me, however, of recent sightings of one bird seen on and off for the last few weeks at a particular location high up on the Blanchisseuse Road. We departed Asa Wright Nature Centre early that morning...


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