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

Victor Emanuel Speaks at Mass Audubon Birders Meeting, March 11

March 06, 2018

  Victor Emanuel will give the keynote address at Mass Audubon’s 26th Annual Birders Meeting, March 11, 2018. He will speak about “Birds & Life” at 9:00 a.m. at UMass Boston. Copies of his memoir, One More Warbler, A Life With Birds, will be available for purchase at the Audubon Shop, and Victor will sign copies during the lunch break.  

Rick Wright speaks at Wachiska Audubon Society, March 8

March 06, 2018

  Thursday, March 8, VENT tour leader Rick Wright will be the guest speaker at the March Awards Banquet of the Wachiska Audubon Society of Southeast Nebraska in Lincoln.  Rick’s presentation, “Discoveries, Rediscoveries, and Stories: John James Audubon in Nebraska,” will describe Audubon’s visit to the area 175 years ago. The program will begin at 7:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public.   

West Mexico: Thorn Forest to the Sierra Madre


Brian Gibbons: March 03, 2018

Western Mexico holds some amazing treasure, and I’m not talking about Sierra Madre gold! From the sunbaked beaches to the chilly recesses of the verdant canyons, we experienced many avian treasures; 272 species including more than 30 endemics made sure our West Mexico tour was a resounding success. Limonadas cooled us on warm afternoons, and coffee warmed us during the morning chill while the birds entertained us all day long. From our start in a weedy field in Nuevo Vallarta to the fin...

Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend


Brian Gibbons: March 01, 2018

Meeting our first afternoon in Duluth, we had no idea it would be the warmest temperature of the trip, a toasty 11° F. The next morning we would be shivering at -18° with a Black-backed Woodpecker in our sights. The remote Superior National Forest in Lake County would chill us most deeply at -27°; who knows what the windchill was! But it was all well worth it. With a good owl year and a few others, we had an excellent trip through the North Woods with amazing scenery, great food, ...

Baja California & the Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales


Michael O'Brien: February 27, 2018

Amazing natural beauty, delightful weather, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets were hallmarks of our 2018 Baja cruise aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird. With fascinating wildlife sightings at every turn, and an accomplished and friendly team of naturalists on board, our group had a fun-filled, relaxing, and educational vacation.  Humpback Whale— Photo: Michael O'Brien   Our adventure began among massive white sand dunes, mangrove thickets, and tran...



Victor Emanuel: February 22, 2018

Dear friends, I've only recently returned from co-leading a tour to Cuba, but I am already preparing to leave on my next trip. This Sunday I will be back on the road with colleagues Barry Lyon and David Ascanio in advance of a special departure that we'll lead for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to the islands of the Lesser Antilles. Sea Cloud — Photo: Courtesy Sea Cloud Cruises VENT operates an annual trip for the Lab's Chairman's Council, and this year the Lab has reserved...

Sri Lanka: Blue Whale Extension


Machiel Valkenburg: February 22, 2018

After the Sri Lanka main tour, VENT offered the option of joining an extension to the extreme south side of the island to enjoy some of the Blue Whale congregations in the Indian Ocean. We moved south over the expressway, picking up some local birds like Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, and Brahminy Kite. We visited the Galle Fort, admiring this seventeenth century monument recognized by UNESCO located along the deep blue Indian Ocean. Blue Whale taking a deep dive— Photo: Ma...

Sri Lanka


Machiel Valkenburg: February 22, 2018

It has been over a decade since VENT’s last visit to Sri Lanka. We felt it was definitely time for a return, and the group and I were very happy we did. Sri Lanka is an amazing tropical destination located just south of India and offers some great birding in combination with some awesome wildlife opportunities. Our tour started in the busy city of Colombo, which we left on the first morning moving south towards Bundala and Yala national parks where we spent four days birding.  Both...

Japan in Winter


Steve Hilty: February 21, 2018

One of the top highlights mentioned by most members of the group was a Ural Owl sleeping in a large, picturesque tree hollow. It was, in fact, an image that could have been plucked straight from an illustrated book of fairy tales from the Middle Ages. A male Eurasian Bullfinch in beautiful morning light also garnered top honors and, surprisingly, so did the diminutive Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. For several of us, a large flock of Rooks eluding repeated prey-capture attempts by a Peregrine Fal...

Rick Wright lectures at New York City Audubon


Rick Wright: February 21, 2018

VENT tour leader Rick Wright, the designer of VENT’s Birds & Art tour program, will lecture on “Sparrows and People and Sparrow People” at New York City Audubon, Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.  Rick is the author of two books on the Latin and German animal literature of the late Middle Ages and several birding field guides. He is a prolific contributor to the birding literature and a sought-after lecturer.    

VENTflash #233


Victor Emanuel: February 14, 2018

Dear friends: I first considered going to Cuba in 1958, just after I graduated from high school. A birding friend and I planned to drive to Key West, Florida and put our car on the ferry to Havana. However, early in 1959 the finale of the Cuban Revolution put an end to that plan. In the late seventies, some birders started going to Cuba, including Dr. James Clements. In 1981, Ted Parker and John Rowlett co-led VENT's first Cuba tour as a pre-trip to the American Birding Association's national...

Israel: Birds, History & Culture in the Holy Land


Barry Lyon: February 12, 2018

Rife with natural history, human history, and cultural attractions, Israel possesses that rare ability to satisfy a diversity of interests at once. A significant spiritual center of the three Abrahamic religions, Israel is for so many people an irresistible source of fascination and interest, a place where ancient history is perpetually on display just as geo-political forces continue to shape the modern state. And at the center of an enormous migratory flyway, Israel hosts some of the planet...

Winter Southern Arizona


Barry Zimmer: February 06, 2018

Once again, our Winter Southern Arizona tour was a huge success. We scoured a variety of habitats from the oak-juniper woodlands of Madera Canyon to the riparian habitat along the Santa Cruz River, to the Sonoran desert around Green Valley, and to the agricultural fields and desert scrub of the Sulphur Springs Valley in search of southwestern residents, winter specialties, and Mexican rarities. On all counts our trip was wildly successful. Red-naped Sapsucker— Photo: Barry ...

Winter New Mexico


Barry Zimmer: February 03, 2018

As we pulled into the driveway of my house, we were greeted by an adult male Hooded Oriole on a front yard hummingbird feeder (before we could even get out of the van!). This species is quite rare here in winter, but I had four that had settled in for the season. We enjoyed great views of this orange and black beauty, and then headed to the upper deck patio to view the backyard. A rare female Broad-billed Hummingbird hovered practically in our faces before we could even get in place along the...

Ecuador: The Northwestern Andean Slopes


Paul Greenfield: February 03, 2018

Our Northwestern Andean Slopes tour explored the Pacific Andean slope from high temperate zone forest at Yanacocha Reserve, down through the lower temperate zone, subtropical forest, and through foothill cloudforest and humid lowland forest. Highlights were many, as we sampled so many distinct sites in this bird-rich land. Our first of many hummingbird experiences was at high-Andean Yanacocha Reserve, enjoying close looks at so many wonderful species—Tyrian Metaltail, Sapphire-vented an...

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...

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