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

Winter New Mexico


Barry Zimmer: January 26, 2015

At one moment there is total silence without a bird in sight. Then a distant twittering from above and suddenly the swirling flock descends towards the feeders. In a frenetic pace, the stunning pink-blushed birds feed as if they must consume every seed on the tray in a minute or less. Ginger-colored Brown-cappeds, gray-helmeted Hepburn’s, and charcoal-colored Blacks all feeding side by side just twenty feet in front of us. Then, as quickly as they appeared, they burst into flight, ascen...

Montana Winter Raptor Workshop


Denver Holt: January 22, 2015

Our first winter raptor workshop was very successful and lots of fun. Western Montana was unusually cold and snow-covered during our trip, but our enthusiastic group was prepared. We covered many field techniques for basic and advanced raptor identification. We also discussed migration, wintering ecology, and the basics of ornithology and raptor biology. Survival in winter can be difficult, and we discussed feeding ecology and strategies used by raptors during this season. For example, Bald E...

VENTflash #183


Victor Emanuel: January 14, 2015

Dear friends, It's hard to believe that we're already halfway through January, yet I am very pleased to report that VENT's winter travel season is well underway, with tours to New Mexico, Panama, Japan, Ecuador, and the Amazon River having departed in the first two weeks of the month, and with trips to Arizona, California, Florida, India, and Venezuela departing soon. The year that ended was the best in the 38-year history of our company, and I very much look forward to another successful yea...

Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: January 08, 2015

There is virtually no other country in Central America that matches the mix of highland and lowland habitats, all within short distance, that are found in Costa Rica. This tiny but astonishingly lush and environmentally friendly country received us with views of motmots, quetzals, trogons, kingfishers, tanagers, and lots of hummingbirds! Fiery-throated Hummingbird— Photo: David Ascanio The first morning found us at the gorgeous gardens of the Hotel Bougainvillea. Here, we e...

Ecuador: The Northwestern Andean Slopes


Paul Greenfield: January 07, 2015

The proof is in the pudding! Our 7-day Northwestern Andean Slopes tour does it again—combining great birding, great avian diversity, super birds, and some of the finest viewing conditions on Earth, as well as a great group of birders to share it all! It is truly amazing just how many species and experiences we “chalked-up” in the really compact area we covered, from the high-temperate forests to the lowlands, just west of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. This is a land o...

New Zealand Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 06, 2015

The tour started almost as smooth as silk until a flight delay had one couple arriving a few hours behind schedule. Fortunately the tide was excellent at nearby Mangere, and we were able to explore this bird-rich site for a couple of hours. Most notable were singles of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Black-fronted Dotterel, plus a single second year Black-billed Gull and a breeding plumaged New Zealand Dotterel. We headed off to Pakiri, a tidal estuary on the northeast coast. Here we waited a pati...

Kenya: Birds & Wildlife


David Wolf: January 05, 2015

No doubt about it, Kenya is complex. Here, within a rather small part of a not very big country, can be found a microcosm of the entire continent. The terrain and habitats are varied, birds are abundant and include many of the continent’s most iconic species, a wide variety of mammals survive in the many reserves, and the cultural stew of a burgeoning population is rich. Our 2014 “Birds and Wildlife” tour took full advantage of all of this, finding an abundance of things to ...

Minas Gerais: Endemic Birds & Special Mammals of Central Brazil


Andrew Whittaker: December 22, 2014

From one of South America’s most sought after trophies, the spectacular Swallow-tailed Cotinga (feeding young at its nest) to observing a Giant Anteater extract termites (at point-blank range for 15 minutes), such incredible highlights are to be expected during our Minas Gerais, Brazil tour. This exciting tour regularly produces an impressive tally of Brazil’s rarest and most spectacular birds including the likes of Brazilian Merganser, while birding in several scenically spectacu...

Madagascar Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: December 18, 2014

With everything going to plan, our group met for dinner in the delightful Hotel Palissandre. After a good night of rest we kicked-off our birding with a visit to Lac Alarobia, a wetland on a private estate on the outskirts of the capital city, Antananarivo. Amongst the hundreds of Red-billed Teal and White-faced Whistling-Ducks we found a small number of Comb Ducks, Hottentot Teal and, best of all, five of the rare Meller’s Duck. Similarly, amongst the hundreds of nesting Little Egrets ...

VENTflash #182


Victor Emanuel: December 18, 2014

Dear friends, Two weeks ago I traveled to Patagonia, Arizona with my colleagues Barry Lyon and Brian Gibbons to attend the dedication ceremony of the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. This historic occasion marked the climax of a determined two-year effort to preserve one of the country's best known birding locations in perpetuity. Conservation heroes George Fenwick, Paul Green & Victor Emanuel — Photo: Barry Lyon I became involved in the Paton project over two years ago w...

Panama's Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: December 10, 2014

As I compile this Field List, my mind is wandering among the wonderful images and memories of our Panama´s Canal Zone Relaxed & Easy tour. It is difficult to pick only a handful as favorites, because there were so many, but here are a few highlights. Well before the day broke, the chachalacas were communicating in their unique parlance, and smaller gems, such as the Blue Dacnis and the Red-legged Honeycreeper, waited around the bird feeders for the daily fruits. Blue-cheste...

Polar Bears of Churchill


Bob Sundstrom: November 24, 2014

The mid-autumn gathering of Polar Bears along Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba, stands as one of the top wildlife spectacles in the world. The tundra frontier near Churchill has become the premier site in the world for watching and photographing the immense white bears from the warmth and safety of a Tundra Buggy. In just a few days here one can see dozens of Polar Bears, the largest of all land carnivores, and often at very close range. The experience is truly unforgettable. Pola...

Grand Australia Part II


Dion Hobcroft: November 21, 2014

The folks continuing on from Grand Australia Part I flew from Uluru to Brisbane via Sydney. Spending the night at the Novotel, we took off the next morning, heading south with seven new faces to try our luck at finding a Koala. Although the Koala won the first round, we spotted Tawny Frogmouth, Pacific Baza, and Brown Goshawk, and watched a Red-necked Wallaby that appeared in birthing mode. Marsupials were in good form today, and we spotted several species including Eastern Gray Kangaroo, Pre...

Grand Australia Part I


Dion Hobcroft: November 20, 2014

We started our tour in Sydney on a beautiful spring day with cool temperatures. We spent the first afternoon exploring Sydney’s Botanic Gardens and Hyde Park, taking in the views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The gardens looked magnificent at this time of year. Luck was with us as we scored a Powerful Owl that was roosting in a Black Bean tree. We had a great experience with a pair of Channel-billed Cuckoos that were raucously screaming and perching right overhead, triggering a...

VENTflash #181


Victor Emanuel: November 19, 2014

Dear friends, More than most people, birders are especially attuned to weather conditions and the changing seasons, as both affect birding productivity. Inclement weather can make birding a physically less enjoyable experience, yet it is often responsible for the appearance of a rare bird in your area. The changing seasons determine the mix of birds you see. In October and early November, for example, we say goodbye to the last of the southbound Neotropical migrants, unless we are fortun...

Panama: Fall at El Valle's Canopy Lodge


Barry Zimmer: November 19, 2014

The loud chatter had increased from a barely audible, distant sound to nearly in our laps, yet we still could not see our elusive target. We had come to the Monte Azul lookout in hopes of seeing the highly prized Black-crowned Antpitta, a shy, rarely seen, ravine-dwelling member of the gnateater family. Twice the bird passed within 20 feet of us, but remained hidden in the dense vegetation. Now it had gone silent, and our hopes began to dim. Suddenly, however, the bird appeared in full view i...

VENT Now Accepts American Express


Victor Emanuel: November 18, 2014

Dear friends, I am pleased to inform you that VENT now accepts American Express as a payment option for tour deposits. Although we have accepted MasterCard and Visa for years, our decision to accept American Express is in response to customer feedback. Please note that this move does not affect our credit card policy overall, in which credit cards are accepted for initial deposits only. All other tour payments including second deposits, interim payments, final balances, special arrangements, ...

Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp


Barry Zimmer: November 10, 2014

After a very successful morning birding along the Agua Caliente Road and Las Lagunas region, we had settled in to a shady area along the creek to enjoy our picnic lunch. The morning had been very productive, highlighted by a half-dozen spectacular Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, a pair of Gray-cheeked Nunlets from fifteen feet, and three Pied Puffbirds, among many other wonderful sightings. Gray-cheeked Nunlet, Las Lagunas, Panama, Oct. 20, 2014— Photo: Barry Zimmer Gene...

Fall at Panama's Canopy Tower


Barry Zimmer: November 07, 2014

“Oh my god, there’s a Sunbittern in the road right next to us!” I “whispered” in a semi-suppressed voice. I had heard a rustling noise to my right and turned to see this localized and infrequently seen species (for this area) emerging from the dense vegetation on the side of Pipeline Road no more than fifteen feet away. I figured it would dart across the road and provide only fleeting views at best for the group. Instead, the bird trotted slowly down the road, mo...

Fall Hawaii


Bob Sundstrom: November 06, 2014

The morning was mostly clear as we drove out of Waimea in northwest Hawaii (the Big Island). The summit of massive Mauna Kea was in view, its astronomical observatories reflecting the early rays of the sun above the cloud layer. In the distance the slopes of other volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Hualalai, were crisply outlined. We headed east on the road that crosses the saddle between lofty Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, both over 13,000 feet, past the grassy slopes of extinct Mauna Kea and along the bla...