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

Fall Hawaii


Bob Sundstrom: November 16, 2015

Our 2015 Fall Hawaii tour had more than its share of highlights, but the day we birded Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge topped the list. Located at about 6,000 ft. elevation on the rain forest face of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, Hakalau offers the best forest birding anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands. Here among the native ohia and koa trees and shrub understory of native raspberry and many other plants, we were on a quest to find a select group of native Hawaiian birds that woul...

VENTflash #193


Victor Emanuel: November 11, 2015

Dear friends, With the second week of November comes the startling reminder of how fast time passes. It's hard to believe we've already reached the mid-point of autumn. Looking back on the month that was, October was an enjoyable time for me here in Austin. The heat of the Texas summer finally abated and I was able to spend more time around my home and office following a lengthy trip to Eastern Europe in September. The highlight of the month was hosting VENT's newest tour leader, Machiel Valk...

Peru: Manu Biosphere Reserve


Steve Hilty: November 07, 2015

It was 3:30 a.m. when we assembled for the short walk across the busy street to Lima’s international airport. Inside, the airport was already buzzing with activity: hundreds of people checking in for flights, restaurants serving early breakfasts, and shops open everywhere. It would be a long day for us, but the contrast couldn’t have been greater—from the glitz and bright lights of the predawn airport, the flight to Cuzco, and then the little farms in the arid Andean highlan...

Fall at Panama's Canopy Tower


Barry Zimmer: November 03, 2015

Although I have led over 25 tours to Panama, I don’t think I can remember one that had more special moments than this year’s Canopy Tower tour. In fact, in one six-hour period along Pipeline Road, we had three of my most memorable Panama moments ever! Pheasant Cuckoo - a tour first!— Photo: Barry Zimmer We had just come down from the observation tower of the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, when Natalia, one of the Center employees, told us she had just locat...

Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp


Barry Zimmer: November 03, 2015

We arrived at the spot along the Rio Tuquesa around 8:30 AM, where some ten months earlier one of the Canopy Camp guides had discovered a pair of Dusky-backed Jacamars. This range restricted species (found only in easternmost Panama and in northern Colombia) is seldom seen by anyone. We had high hopes, however, as we knew that groups prior to ours had been able to relocate these special birds. Our boat trip upriver to this location had already netted us many great birds for the morning, inclu...

Manaus, Brazil: Amazon Rainforest & River Islands


Andrew Whittaker: October 30, 2015

From the much-wanted mythical Rufous and White-winged potoos to a mighty and rarely seen Crested Eagle, this year’s Manaus trip rocked! From countless splendid colored gems such as Crimson Topaz and Guianan Red-Cotinga to the in-your-face views of some of the world’s greats, such as the magnificent lekking Guianan Cock-of-the-rock and Wire-tailed Manakin, nobody could ask for more!    Manaus offers delightful birding and a mega number of species. Nestled deep in the...

Cape May: A Birding Workshop


Louise Zemaitis: October 26, 2015

Southbound bird migration is a protracted affair. It starts in mid-summer with adult shorebirds leaving their arctic breeding grounds and continues well into December with seabirds and waterfowl seeking winter food supplies. The peak of bird diversity is generally somewhere in the middle, when Neotropical and short-distance migrants overlap. Each year is a little different due to breeding success and weather. Our 2015 fall birding workshop took place a week earlier than usual due to travel re...

Falsterbo, Sweden: A Migration Spectacle


Michael O'Brien: October 24, 2015

Our first Falsterbo tour was an exciting snapshot of this legendary European migration hotspot. With some four million birds recorded passing through this small peninsula each fall, any visit here is bound to produce. On this trip, we picked dates to coincide with the greatest diversity of species and succeeded in finding 17 species of waterfowl, 12 species of raptors, 21 species of shorebirds, and 19 species of warblers and flycatchers! Because this was a migration tour, our itinerary was de...

The Pacific Northwest: A September Migration Birding Workshop


Bob Sundstrom: October 23, 2015

The last full day of the 2015 September Migration tour was coming to an end. The tour had gone very well, with many fine birds seen. The weather had been amazingly nice too: mostly mild, in the 60s, nice enough for a continuing series of picnics in spots with good birding potential. We had spent much of the day at Reifel Sanctuary, on Westham Island in British Columbia, about 20 miles from the US border. The morning’s birding started on the Tsawwassen ferry jetty, with fine views of our...

VENTflash #192


Victor Emanuel: October 13, 2015

Dear friends, Extraordinary. Riches upon riches. One of our best tours ever. These descriptions might sound extravagant in describing our first-ever Birds & Music tour to Hungary and the Czech Republic, from where I've recently returned, but they are not. Following two years of planning, this highly anticipated trip exceeded my expectations in almost every way. From the birdwalk around our hotel south of Budapest on the first afternoon to the walking tour of magical Prague on the group's ...

Brazil: Pantanal Safari (Birds & Jaguars) and Chapada dos Guimaraes


Kevin Zimmer: October 08, 2015

Our 2015 Pantanal Safari served up the usual generous helpings of birds, mammals, and other wildlife that we have come to expect from “South America’s Serengeti.” For most, if not all of us, the number one objective of the trip was to see Jaguars, and see them we did, as we enjoyed three separate encounters (involving two different individuals) with spectacular males: The density of Jaguars in this region is astonishing—biologists studying these amazing animals have be...

Autumn Grand Manan


Barry Zimmer: October 02, 2015

We departed from Seal Cove on our full-day pelagic tour filled with excitement and anticipation of what was to come. Based on my build-up, expectations for a good day were high. Great Black-backed Gulls by the dozens adorned the rocks of the jetty as we pulled out of the harbor, and quickly we began seeing numbers of Black Guillemots foraging in the near shore waters. Fifteen minutes into our journey, the mate spotted an adult Razorbill with a chick in tow. We were able to pull up right next ...

Papua New Guinea: West New Britain


Dion Hobcroft: October 02, 2015

An unexpected flight schedule change saw us narrowly connect with our plane trip from Port Moresby via Lae to Hoskins, the largest town in West New Britain. Fortunately it all worked out well; just lucky we arrived at the airport early! After settling in to the comfortable Walindi Dive Resort, we headed out for an afternoon of birding at the relatively close site of Kulu River. Again the big dry was obvious. Max, owner of the resort who has kept rainfall records for 45 years, stated that this...

Papua New Guinea Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: October 02, 2015

Our annual tour of Papua New Guinea was the usual adventure in a fascinating country. This year a severe El Nino resulted in a widespread drought. The dry conditions made birding even more difficult in this country than is typical. Despite the remarkably dry conditions, we still enjoyed considerable success with the birds. Papuan Frogmouth— Photo: Dion Hobcroft We arrived into Port Moresby right on schedule (despite the printed e-ticket kafuffle) and found ourselves quickly...



David Wolf: September 30, 2015

Borneo! The very name conjures images of steaming jungles and towering trees, odd and wonderful wildlife found nowhere else on earth, strange carnivorous plants, and exotic and unfamiliar birds. Our 2015 tour experienced all of this and much more on our visit to this unique island, the world’s third largest. We ranged from the cool and wet heights of Kinabalu, the highest mountain between New Guinea and the Himalayas, to the primeval rainforests of the Danum Valley. In between were othe...

Western Turkey: Birds & History


Bob Sundstrom: September 30, 2015

Many images helped define VENT’s 2015 Western Turkey: Birds & History tour. None likely captured the overall theme of the tour better than a moment, midday, on September 2. We sat outside, on a rooftop terrace of the Arcadia Blue Hotel, many stories above the heart of the vast city of Istanbul. From our vantage point, we looked directly out toward the most prominent, most renowned structures in Old Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, the immense domed edifice that was once, as a Byzantine churc...

Brazil: Pantanal Safari (Birds & Jaguars) and Chapada Dos Guimaraes


Andrew Whittaker: September 25, 2015

Once again we found the fabled Pantanal simply brimming with wildlife, offering non-stop highlights and living up to its well-deserved reputation as one of the premier wildlife spectacles in the world. Not surprisingly, the Pantanal is often favorably compared to an African Safari, especially with each year’s incredible JAGUAR spectacles! This massive cat is certainly the most wanted of South America’s top five mammals and once again dominated our boat trips along the picturesque ...

Brazil: Alta Floresta's Cristalino Jungle Lodge


Andrew Whittaker: September 24, 2015

The paradise that is Cristalino Jungle Lodge never fails to live up to and beyond one’s already high expectations. This year’s tour again came up trumps with a total of 325 bird species, countless memorable birding moments, wonderful sunsets, clouds of colorful butterflies, and excellent mammal sightings, with no less than 19 species! The highlight for me was observing six huge male Amazonian Umbrellabirds displaying and calling at their lek. With the sun enhancing their iridescen...

Grand California


Jeri Langham: September 24, 2015

Whenever someone asks if I get tired of leading VENT’s Grand California tour, I laugh and say, "Picture San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore, Bodega Bay, the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, the White Mountains, Yosemite National Park, Monterey, and the Big Sur coastline. Now tell me you could ever get tired of the scenery, not to mention the array of possible birds, plants, and other animals." Our endemic Yellow-billed Magpie is much more difficult to see due to decimation...

Namibia, Botswana & Zambia


Geoff Lockwood: September 22, 2015

The coastal pre-tour gave us the usual spectacular sightings of thousands of Greater and Lesser flamingos, as well as a number of endemic and near-endemic cormorants, oystercatchers, larks, and chats. For the first time on these pre-tours, we visited the spectacular coastal wetlands at Sandwich Harbour, involving a drive along the shoreline followed by a breathtaking drive back over the dunes. The trip provided the first record of an Augur Buzzard for the Kuiseb Delta, and also great views of...