VENTflash #222 July 12, 2017

Posted by Victor Emanuel


Victor Emanuel

Victor Emanuel started birding in Texas 70 years ago at the age of eight. His travels have taken him to all the continents, with his areas of concentration being Texas, Ari...

Dear friends:

Amid the start of a busy week here at VENT, I’m touching base with you briefly to let you know about four developments regarding upcoming VENT tours. First, I invite you to join us next week for a free webinar in which my colleague Barry Lyon and I will discuss the highlights of our 2018 cruise to Greenland and Iceland. Second, two spaces are newly available on a special late August trip that I will co-lead to Big Bend National Park and the Davis Mountains. Third, VENT leader Dion Hobcroft will join our early September tour to Manaus, Brazil. And finally, our late September tour to the famed Manu region of Peru is down to its final available two spaces.

In this issue:



Next Wednesday, July 19, my colleague Barry Lyon and I will host a free webinar in which we’ll discuss VENT’s next birding and natural history cruise to the North Atlantic: The Untamed North: Greenland to Iceland, June 24-July 8, 2018.

On this two-week expedition to the Far North, we’ll travel aboard the lovely Hebridean Sky for a voyage from Greenland to Iceland, witnessing remarkable landscapes and seascapes as we cruise among flotillas of ice, rugged fjords, calving glaciers, and wave-sculpted islets.

In the long days of summer, the seacliffs and surrounding waters of the North Atlantic Ocean are prime breeding and feeding areas for thousands of seabirds and a marvelous assortment of marine mammals. Our time on the water will be complemented by excursions on shore to view nesting waterfowl, shorebirds, and landbirds; Arctic Fox and Musk Oxen; and wildflower-carpeted tundra. Designed for birders and non-birders alike, this multi-themed program includes cultural activities as well, and those who wish will have opportunities to visit handicraft markets, museums, churches, and brightly painted fishing villages.

This trip will be led by VENT leader Machiel Valkenburg, an up-and-coming young leader with deep roots in European birding.

Please visit our website to learn more about this special trip.

This departure is part of VENT’s collaborative cruise program with trusted travel partner Zegrahm Expeditions. To register for the free webinar, please see the invitation that follows.


Polar Bear, Greenland

Polar Bear, Greenland — Photo: Zegrahm Expeditions


                                                                                               Free Webinar on Wednesday, July 19

                                                                                              Victor Emanuel Nature Tours Presents:

                                                                                           The Untamed North: Greenland to Iceland
                                                                            June 24 – July 8, 2018 | 15 Days | Aboard the Hebridean Sky

Join Victor Emanuel and Barry Lyon of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours for a free webinar! On Wednesday, July 19, learn more about our upcoming expedition, The Untamed North: Greenland to Iceland, a trip VENT will offer in collaboration with Zegrahm Expeditions, June 24–July 8, 2018. Dramatic scenery, thrilling wildlife spectacles, and cultural highlights are themes of this summer voyage to the Far North. Discover the seacliffs and surrounding waters of the ocean’s northern reaches—prime breeding and feeding areas for thousands of seabirds; Humpback Whales; Harp, Ringed, and Bearded seals; and the mighty Polar Bear.

                                                                                                      Wednesday, July 19, 2017
                                                                                     1pm EDT | 12pm CDT | 11am MDT | 10am PDT

                                                                                                   Click here to register now!


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Our arrival in Big Bend National Park that evening was highlighted by a glorious sunset.

Big Bend National Park at sunset — Photo: Barry Zimmer

Toward the end of summer I will co-lead a special trip to Big Bend National Park and the Davis Mountains with my good friend and naturalist extraordinaire Kitty Coley. This trip was designed as a special departure for supporters of the syndicated radio program BirdNote. With about a month-and-a-half prior to departure, we still have two unsold spaces available. As a result, we have capped the tour at 6 participants and made these final two spaces available to VENT travelers.

Big Bend is a fabulous destination at any time of the year, but the summer is my favorite time to visit. Thanks to the annual monsoon cycle, when tropical moisture brings rain to the Desert Southwest, the late summer is often a delightful time to visit Big Bend and the surrounding area. In late August and early September, temperatures in West Texas are milder than earlier in the summer. In addition to three nights at the Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park, we will spend two nights at the beautiful Cibolo Creek Lodge and two nights at the Limpia Hotel in historic Fort Davis. The birding, flowers, stars, and sunsets will be great.

For more information, including a complete itinerary, or to register, please contact Patrick Swaggerty in the VENT office by phone (512-328-5221) or email (

Big Bend and the Davis Mountains, August 24-September 2, 2017 with Victor Emanuel and Kitty Coley; $3,695 in double occupancy from El Paso. 2 spaces available.

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In the event that you still have not made plans to travel this fall, and are willing to travel with limited lead time, I highly recommend our trip to the Manaus region of Brazil. This early September trip is led by veteran tour leader Andrew Whittaker and offers a classic rainforest and river experience. I am especially pleased to announce that VENT leader Dion Hobcroft will join the tour as a participant!

Andrew Whittaker & Dion Hobcroft

Andrew Whittaker & Dion Hobcroft

A resident of Australia, it is a rare occasion when Dion visits the Western Hemisphere, yet, as anyone who has traveled with him knows, he is an avid birder and naturalist, and this tour to Amazonia provided the perfect enticement. While Dion’s role in the trip will be that of participant, his observation skills, people skills, and overall knowledge of natural history will make for a wonderful trip addition. Birding with Dion, you will be seeing marvelous birds that are “lifers” for you and for him. What fun that will be!

Based out of lovely forest lodges, this tour will provide exceptional opportunities to see some of South America’s most wanted birds such as Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Crimson Topaz, Pompadour Cotinga, Guianan Red-Cotinga, countless parrots, manakins, antbirds, and up to four species of potoos. Other highlights include float trips to Amazon riverine islands through seasonally flooded black-water and white-water forests; sightings of Pink River Dolphins; visits to the famous INPA and Ducke canopy towers; and magnificent panoramic sunsets followed by starlit nights.

Also, an important point to consider is that Manaus is the easiest region of Brazil to reach from the U.S., as American Airlines operates a non-stop flight from Miami that departs around 5:30 p.m. and arrives in Manaus around 11:30 p.m. This means you will not have to take an exhausting overnight flight to reach your destination.

Our travelers have found Brazilian travel visas easy to obtain using our recommended visa service, Travel Document Systems.

Manaus, Brazil: Amazon Rainforest & River Islands, September 4-17, 2017 with Andrew Whittaker; $4,995 in double occupancy from Manaus. Limit 8. 4 spaces available.

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Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Andean Cock-of-the-rock— Photo: Robert (Spike) Baker

Our late September tour to the Manu region of Peru is down to its final two spaces available.

This tour presents an ultimate Amazon and Andes spectacle in which you will experience some of the most unspoiled and wildest remaining regions of Amazonia. Here exists a profusion of birds representing most of the bird families of the American Tropics including raptors, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, hummingbirds, antbirds, barbets, tanagers, and so much more. This region is truly one of the great birding areas of the world. In addition to the birdlife, one may encounter a dazzling botanical community, innumerable beautiful butterflies, and an array of mammals including cats, primates, tapirs, Giant Otters, and more.

VENT has operated tours to Peru for many decades, yet it is the Manu region that offers the greatest and most immersive experience in tropical biodiversity. Our Manu tour will be led by Steve Hilty and David Ascanio. Together, Steve and David possess encyclopedic information on the ecology of Amazonia and its birdlife.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience the very best of the Tropics, from the cloud forest to the rain forest, this is a trip you do not want to miss!

Peru, Manu Biosphere Reserve: Cloud Forest, Foothills & Lowland Rainforest, September 20-October 5, 2017; $6,495 in double occupancy from Lima. 2 spaces available.

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The summer is certainly well upon us. High temperatures in the Austin area are reaching into the upper 90s on a daily basis, and conditions have been mostly dry for weeks. Yet modest differences in birdlife between early and mid-summer can be felt. Already we are seeing our first southbound migrant shorebirds at Hornsby Bend, my favorite local birding area, and the annual Purple Martin spectacle has begun in which thousands of martins form a massive pre-migration evening roost that persists for over a month.

Both of these phenomena demonstrate that nature doesn’t stop, even in the long days of summer.

Best wishes,

Victor Emanuel