VENT Birding Tours: Photo Galleries

Colombia: The Central & Western Andes 2014

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Jul 25, 2014

A year ago I summarized this trip as follows: curvy roads, landslides, massive road construction projects, tractor-trailer trucks, out-sized meals for carnivores, beautiful cloud forests, spectacular mountain scenery, rare parrots, hummingbirds, antpittas, colorful tanagers, mixed species flocks, and friendly people. What else to add? This year even more species, and highlights that included Andean Condor, Tiny Hawk, a displaying Club-winged Manakin, a rare Yellow-headed Manakin, five species...


Alaska: Barrow Extension 2014

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Jul 23, 2014

Shortly after our arrival in Barrow we headed out onto the Gaswell Road. It was difficult to make much progress, as we made frequent stops for dapper Long-tailed Ducks, stunning Red Phalaropes, and displaying Pectoral Sandpipers, all of which were wonderfully numerous. A parade of other birds caught our attention as well, including the likes of Greater White-fronted Goose, Tundra Swan, spiffy Dunlins, Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers, Lapland Longspurs, and brilliant Snow Buntings. Eventua...


Alaska Mainland 2014

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Jul 23, 2014

Easing out of the boat harbor in Seward, it was hard not to marvel at the spectacular scenery that surrounded Resurrection Bay: three hundred and sixty degrees of jaw-dropping beauty that would accompany us throughout the day. Of course we had birds on the mind, and almost immediately our attention was drawn from the scenery to passing Arctic Terns, a Northwestern Crow, a playful sea otter, and an adult Bald Eagle perched on a channel marker. Some of the stunning scenery around Sewar...


Southern Portugal: Birds & History 2014

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Jul 20, 2014

VENT’s first ever Southern Portugal: Birds and History tour was a great success, granting participants countless encounters with the unique avifauna of the Iberian Peninsula in a variety of scenic habitats, complemented by visits to many historical sites, and fantastic traditional food and wine. Not only did we see 153 bird species – some of which can only be found in this region – but we also visited Roman temples, Palaeochristian ruins, Moorish castles, and strolled throug...


Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands 2013

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Jul 11, 2014

Although the route we took to the White Continent was certainly the long way, we had many wonderful experiences while getting there. Visiting the still contested Falkland Islands and the superb wildlife spectacle that is South Georgia added great sightings. It also took us right through a low pressure system that produced 40-foot seas with a few waves at 50-feet in the Drake Passage. All told, it was an excellent expedition to the unrivaled seventh continent, made luxurious by the ship's supe...


Minnesota & North Dakota 2014

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Jun 28, 2014

Birding the forests, bogs, meadows, prairies, ponds, and marshes of Minnesota and North Dakota produced an amazing array of birds and scenery during our eight days on the road. Obvious highlights included Great Gray Owl; a nest of Northern Hawk Owls that all fledged during our three days birding the Sax-Zim Bog; Connecticut Warbler; Black-backed Woodpecker; and a couple of singing Baird’s Sparrows. The swampy spruce-tamarack bogs held a beautiful variety of breeding warblers and other s...


Cuba 2014

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Jun 17, 2014

Our Cuba tour was the most interesting, fascinating, and intriguing tour I have ever led in the Caribbean. A mix of unique history, endemic birds, and charming people made this tour memorable for years to come. Cuban Green Woodpecker— Photo: David Ascanio As soon as we arrived at the Santa Clara airport, we drove to Cayo Coco, the fourth largest island in Cuba. There, a small flock of West Indian Whistling-Ducks welcomed us near the hotel entrance. This key, along with Cayo...


Spring Grand Arizona 2014

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Jun 08, 2014

We arrived at Miller Canyon in the midafternoon and immediately headed up to the set of hummingbird feeders tucked into the oak-covered hillside above us. Activity was high with numerous Black-chinneds, a few brilliant Broad-billeds, and several giant and impressive Magnificents (with their stunning purple crowns and emerald-green throats) all buzzing about the feeders right in front of us. Before long, a loud metallic trill announced the presence of a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird as well. O...


Polar Bears of Churchill 2013

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Jun 04, 2014

VENT hosted the first commercial Polar Bear watchers in Churchill in the 1980s. Nearly every year since, scores of clients have enjoyed the antics of the aggregating Polar Bears on the shores of Hudson Bay. This year was no exception; we witnessed 20 bears a day loafing, sleeping, sparring, and generally biding their time. During the three days we were aboard the Tundra Buggy, the bay went from being completely open to having large amounts of grease and pancake ice. One adventurous bear even ...


Big Bend National Park & The Texas Hill Country 2014

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Jun 02, 2014

The Hill Country and the Trans-Pecos are without doubt my two favorite regions in Texas. Combining the two, on one trip in the springtime, is bound to result in a wildly successful trip. That was certainly the case on this year’s Big Bend & the Texas Hill Country tour.  We started out in San Antonio and quickly headed westward towards Uvalde. En route, dazzling Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Crested Caracaras entertained us along the highway. Upon arrival at Cook's Slough, we w...


The Nature of Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito 2013

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May 28, 2014

This tour marked the first of our summer offerings in Honduras, and was based at the justifiably famous Lodge at Pico Bonito. This wonderful place offered very comfortable cabins, excellent food, a great swimming pool, and a bounty of wildlife. Compared to our other Honduras tours, this itinerary was designed with a wider focus and a more relaxed pace, appropriate for naturalists of all ages. Though most outings were focused on birds, we always took time to observe mammals, reptiles, amphibia...


Panama's Canopy Tower: Birds & Butterflies 2012

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May 20, 2014

The thought of traveling to Panama in the "green season" may not be appealing to some potential tour participants. After all, "green season" means "rainy season." But for those of you who haven't tried a green season trip to Panama, I strongly recommend doing so! We had a simply wonderful experience exploring the Canal Zone, and the rains didn't bother us in the least. It did, in fact, rain every day, but almost always in early afternoon, making for the m...


Antigua, Monserrrat and Barbuda: Pre-trip to the Lesser Antilles Cruise 2014

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May 20, 2014

The island nations of Antigua and Barbuda were our first stops on this short and unique pre-trip. During an early morning in Antigua we were surprised by a Merlin flying over the shopping area. The Zenaida Dove (rare in the Greater Antilles) turned out to be common, and a contiguous wetland was packed with Great and Cattle egrets, Royal Terns, and Laughing Gulls. After a short flight to Barbuda we realized how undeveloped this island was—a single paved road—but there were lots of ...


The Lesser Antilles aboard the Sea Cloud 2014

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May 20, 2014

"Six countries, seven islands, and a wonderful ship to sail the Caribbean"—a perfectly succinct way to describe our recent Lesser Antilles Cruise aboard one of the world's most beautiful sailing vessels, the Sea Cloud. We traveled for the birds, but also enjoyed the unique cuisine, learned about plants and trees, discussed sugar trade and the making of rum, and learned about back-and-forth battles and the presence of pirates during the Colonial era, as well as other aspects of life in t...


Venezuela: Casa Maria and Hato Pinero: A Relaxed & Easy Tour 2014

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May 19, 2014

A colorful welcome by a parade of tanagers, euphonias, and trogons was a wonderful way to begin this unique tour in the Neotropics where a myriad of tanagers, flycatchers, and waterbirds can be seen while looking for birds in a relaxed and easy style. Bay-headed Tanager, Casa Maria— Photo: David Ascanio We began in a cloud forest in Casa Maria where we enjoyed Bay-headed, Speckled, Blue-gray, Golden, Black-headed, White-lined, Silver-beaked, and Blue-necked tanagers at the ...


Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension 2014

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May 14, 2014

The Texas Hill Country always provides a superb complement to our Spring in South Texas tour, and this year was no different. Nice scenery, cooler temperatures, and plenty of new birds combined to make the perfect ending to our visit to the Lone Star State. Golden-cheeked Warbler — Photo: Barry Zimmer Of course, the two main targets of any trip to the Hill Country are the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler, and we had excellent luck with both species. We saw ...


Spring in South Texas 2014

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May 13, 2014

Some trips have so many highlights that you simply don't know where to start. Such was the case with our 2014 Spring in South Texas tour. We began our journey in Corpus Christi and within 24 hours had tallied an impressive 120 species of birds. Black-bellied and Fulvous whistling-ducks; stunningly improbable Roseate Spoonbills; comical Reddish Egrets; a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron so close we could almost touch it; White-tailed Hawk; Crested Caracara; Snowy, Piping, and Wilson's plovers; Long-...


Amazon River Cruise March 2014

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Apr 28, 2014

We opted to go further up the Ucayali this year and forego a short visit to the Río Marañon because we feel the wilder upper section of the Ucayali offers better opportunities for birding and mammal viewing than does the Marañon, which has more Amerindian settlements and a far greater number of villages, gardens, and human intervention. During our weeklong trip we experienced essentially no delays due to rain. Most days were cloudy to partly cloudy and pleasant with spect...


Best of Belize: Chan Chich Lodge 2014

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Apr 03, 2014

Our first morning at Crooked Tree was exceptional. It was hard to know which way to look. As soon as we exited the dining room from breakfast, our heads were spinning in every direction. Stunning Vermilion Flycatchers hawked insects from the fence posts. A flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks greeted the dawn raucously from a flooded field to our right, while a dapper Northern Jacana paraded by on its monstrous feet. A small flock of Olive-throated Parakeets darted past, followed quickly by...


Winter New Mexico 2014

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Feb 26, 2014

From the first afternoon with nearly 10,000 Yellow-headed Blackbirds draping the wires like Christmas garland to the last afternoon with a swirling flock of Black and Brown-capped rosy-finches pouring onto a feeder just 20 feet away, our Winter New Mexico tour was packed with great birds and fantastic bird spectacles. Starting in El Paso, we scoured the Rio Grande Valley and adjacent mountains northward to Albuquerque, tallying 143 species of birds and enjoying some of the best weather ever f...


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