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

VENTflash #232


Victor Emanuel: January 30, 2018

Dear friends: Yesterday morning I had an excellent conversation with VENT tour leader Andrew Whittaker, who has recently returned home from leading our annual cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands. Andrew reported having a wonderful trip, and that his tour group went home extremely happy. Among the many highlights were mixed colonies of albatross, penguins, and shags in the Falkland Islands, tens of thousands of King Penguins on majestic South Georgia Island, and many...

Madagascar Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 29, 2018

Those arriving early for the tour enjoyed the extensive gardens of the Aubois Vert Hotel. They offer the perfect introduction to many of the more eco-tolerant and successful species of birds on this massive island. Flocks of Red Fody come in to bathe, Madagascar Brush-Warblers skulk about, while noisy chattering Madagascan Bulbuls dominate the birdsong. More careful examination will reveal Madagascar Coucal building a nest, Madagascar Hoopoes probing the lawns, Madagascar Magpie-Robin feeding...

New Zealand Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 24, 2018

What a fantastic country is New Zealand. The friendly and stout-hearted folks of this South Pacific nation do so much so well. It is always a pleasure to visit. Teaming up with my good friend Mark Ayre, this is the way we saw the tour. Quickly amongst the birds, our group convened efficiently and had the scopes out on the wetlands of Mangere. Our first surprise of the tour was a pen Mute Swan, rare in New Zealand and starkly contrasting with the abundant Black Swans. This is a great spot to s...

Santiago-Humboldt Extension


Andrew Whittaker: January 19, 2018

Upon our arrival in the bustling capital of Santiago, we rested up after a fine meal. This year all of the participants on our “Wild Patagonia & Central Chile” tour joined us for this exciting extension. Rested up and raring to go, early the next morning we headed east towards the rich coastline with the famously rich Humboldt Current, our destination the Miapo Estuary. The place was simply brimming with migrant shorebirds, waterfowl, terns, gulls, skimmers and, of course, a h...

Wild Patagonia & Central Chile


Andrew Whittaker: January 19, 2018

Wondrous Chile came up trumps again! We enjoyed a sensational second spring with a non stop array of exciting, easy birding (200 species) with a backdrop of stupendous world-class scenery, great mammals (16 species), and an amazing abundance of gorgeous wildflowers combined with super weather and scrumptious Chilean food! Life cannot get much better! We cleaned up on all the fantastic endemics and specialties and enjoyed yet another fabulous year of Pumas galore (last year 7 cats, this year 8...

Ecuador: Tinalandia Pre-trip


Paul Greenfield: January 17, 2018

Our Tinalandia Pre-trip began with a twist; Ecuador’s classic pioneer birding hot-spot was unable to accommodate our group, or any group for that matter. Sadly, it will be closing its doors to avitourism, after well over 50 years, due mainly to collateral damage it endured during a recent earthquake that shook Ecuador’s northern coast…indeed, this is a sad day for this country’s rich birding history. Accordingly, we made Plan-B arrangements to stay at nearby Hoster&ia...

VENTflash #231


Victor Emanuel: January 09, 2018

Dear friends: It has been a while since you last heard from me. December was something of a whirlwind at VENT, as the month was dominated by the planning and execution of our bi-annual Company Meeting. Every two years, we gather our staff at our home base here in Austin, Texas to renew acquaintances, touch base with colleagues who don't see one another very often, and discuss important issues that affect our business. These events are always a lot of work, but they benefit VENT in some very i...

Fall Hawaii


Brennan Mulrooney: January 08, 2018

Our Fall Hawaii tour visited three of the four main Hawaiian islands. We spent time exploring Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii, in that order. Each island had its own distinct character, and each island offered unique birds for us to pursue. In addition to the wonderful birds of the islands, we were treated to an unending succession of amazing views and scenes: stark lava cliffs meeting tumultuous seas, forest-clad mountains rising up into the clouds, waterfalls cascading into incred...

Galapagos Islands Cruise Aboard the M/V Evolution


Paul Greenfield: January 02, 2018

The Galapagos Islands experience is indeed pretty hard to beat…if beatable at all! But who could have ever imagined that a scattered grouping of rather inhospitable (“enchanted”) islands and islets, lost out in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, a once feared hideaway for pirates and buccaneers, a historic whaling hotspot—would become a worldwide bucket-list favorite. I don’t even think Charles Darwin had any high hopes when he heard that he would visiting this port-...

Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise


Paul Greenfield: January 02, 2018

Northwestern Ecuador offers an exceptional experience for wildlife enthusiasts, and its birdlife is hard to beat! This Tandayapa pre-trip experience is meant to provide an introduction to Ecuador’s rich biodiversity while offering a backdrop, contrast, and comparison to the main Galapagos Cruise and the archipelago’s unique and relatively stark ecosystems. The Tandayapa-Mindo-Milpe region we visited is one of color and variety, and although a short three-day visit might seem too b...

Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: December 28, 2017

The first night in San José welcomed us with a heavy downpour that lasted well after midnight. I am sure everyone was wondering if the rain would continue until the next morning, but actually the opposite happened: the day opened with a blue sky and wonderful birds in the gardens of the Hotel Bougainvillea. During our morning in these gardens we were accompanied by the scratchy voice of the Rufous-naped Wren and the explosive song of the Melodious Blackbird. Is there a better way to be...

Panama's Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: December 28, 2017

A silent night in the peaceful town of Gamboa was followed by a wild blast of birds at dawn near the lodge. What a way to start our Panama Canal tour! The bird feeder was our first step to identify some of the common and colorful species that included Plain-colored, Blue-gray, Palm, Crimson-backed, and Golden-hooded tanagers. In addition to this kaleidoscope of colors, we also saw Red-legged and Shining honeycreepers, Orange-chinned Parakeet, and Buff-throated Saltator. As the morning warmed ...

Rockport, Texas: A Bonanza of Wintering Birds


Michael O'Brien: December 22, 2017

We had a very pleasant visit to this bird-rich part of the country, and we enjoyed a wonderful mix of wintering waterbirds, South Texas residents, and of course, the magnificent Whooping Cranes. Before arriving, we had concerns about how well this area was rebounding after being devastated by Hurricane Harvey back on August 25. Rockport was at ground zero when this storm made its first landfall, and the damage was considerable. Much cleanup remains to be done, and rebuilding will likely take ...

Grand Australia: Tasmania Extension


David James: December 22, 2017

With an improved itinerary in 2017 we experienced some of Tasmania’s finest wildlife and scenic locations, taking in the famous landmarks. Everyone saw all of the endemic birds of Tasmania and an elite selection of highly sought-after southern Australian specialties as well. We also enjoyed close encounters with some iconic Australian mammals, including “duck-billed” Platypi and the infamous “Tassie” Devil. The relaxed and leisurely itinerary allowed us ample tim...

Faces of Polynesia: Fiji to Tahiti


Brian Gibbons: December 18, 2017

We started our adventure on Viti Levu, Fiji at the Westin Denarau resort, which is a set in a tropical garden paradise where we found our first Fijian endemics. Fiji Parrotfinch was quite charming and common. Western Wattled-Honeyeater, Fiji Woodswallow, and the ubiquitous and sometimes feisty mynas all reside around the resort. After a tour of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and Viseisei Village, we embarked the Caledonian Sky, our fine home in the South Pacific for the next two weeks, as w...

Grand Australia Part II


Dion Hobcroft: November 29, 2017

Our Grand Australia Part II tour began as we bade farewell to two participants and engaged a new couple. After a comfortable night in Brisbane, we transferred to the O’Reilly’s Guesthouse in Lamington National Park on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. Birding with friend Duncan, we made several stops along the way. At our first stop in suburban Brisbane we spent more than an hour scouring the Eucalypts and became lucky when we spotted a female Koala with an adorable jo...

Grand Australia Part I


Dion Hobcroft: November 29, 2017

Balmy weather, cool and overcast with a light breeze, had our tour off to a good start. As a first bird, we kicked off proceedings with the bizarre Tawny Frogmouth, making for another good start. The well-camouflaged frogmouth sitting on a nest was the perfect introduction to the fun of birding in Australia where the birds are typically tame and in good light. It had, however, been the driest and hottest September in the history of New South Wales since records were kept: that is 150 years! W...

Brazil's Southern Amazon: Rio Azul & Cristalino Jungle Lodges


Kevin Zimmer: November 25, 2017

Our inaugural “Brazil’s Southern Amazon” tour began with our rollout of a new location (Rio Azul Jungle Lodge) and ended with a “golden oldie” (Cristalino Jungle Lodge).  My intent in combining these two sites from the same biogeographic region was to provide participants with a real immersion into the fauna and flora of the amazingly biodiverse region that lies south of the Amazon River, and between two of its major South Bank tributaries, the rios Tapaj&oa...

Washington: September Migration in the Pacific Northwest


Bob Sundstrom: November 25, 2017

The rush of migration in September concentrates birds along Washington and southern British Columbia’s mountain ridges, coastal shorelines, and over the ocean itself. The September Migration in the Pacific Northwest tour takes full advantage of nature’s timing to showcase shorebirds, seabirds, and songbirds in the midst of southward migration. It seemed like each species we encountered had a unique story to tell: seabirds headed south to such different destinations as Antarctica, ...

Southeastern Brazil: Best of the Atlantic Forest


Andrew Whittaker: November 22, 2017

Once again, our Brazilian flagship tour visiting the lovely southeast rocked, delivering a bonanza of Atlantic Forest endemics, spectacular scenery, all-around great birding, and wonderful Brazilian cuisine that we have come to expect from this fantastic biologically rich region. First and foremost we tallied 391 species, a whopping 140 of which were regional and/or Brazilian endemics! These figures become all the more impressive when you consider that many of the wider ranging species not in...

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