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

VENTFLASH #236

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Victor Emanuel: May 10, 2018

Dear friends: For several years I've wanted to spend most of April at my beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula on the upper Texas coast. My house is situated close to the famed Bolivar Flats and High Island bird sanctuary, two of the premier places in North America for experiencing the magic of spring migration. Every spring this region plays host to millions of shorebirds, hawks, and songbirds that pass through or linger in the area, and my house is right in the middle of it! There is no othe...


Belize: Relaxed & Easy

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Michael O'Brien: May 10, 2018

While the eastern U.S. was enduring four nor’easters in a row, our happy group was meandering through paradise, enjoying Belize’s diverse natural beauty. It’s never a hardship to visit Belize, but the weather at home made this trip a particularly welcome getaway!  Slaty-tailed Trogon— Photo: Michael O'Brien   A short walk at our hotel near Belize City yielded 30+ species, providing a nice introduction to Belizean birds, including Cinnamon...


Belize's Hidden Treasures

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Michael O'Brien: May 09, 2018

Our inaugural Belize’s Hidden Treasures tour was a wonderful immersion into the deep forests of Western Belize. Based at two fabulous lodges, Pook’s Hill and Black Rock, our visit to the Maya Mountain Foothills and Mountain Pine Ridge was not only birdy, but also extremely comfortable, and accompanied by some of the country’s best guides. Northern Emerald-Toucanet— Photo: Michael O'Brien   Our first morning at Pook’s Hill began with a da...


Nebraska: Platte River, Sandhill Cranes & Prairie Grouse

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Rick Wright: May 06, 2018

Birders are often accused of being obsessed with the singular, the unusual, the rare. Our short March week in Nebraska offered us plenty of that. Most notable, perhaps, was an early-arriving Whooping Crane, which we were fortunate enough to see not once but twice, first on a field with its gray cousins on our arrival along the central Platte River on the second day of the tour, and then, thanks to Danny’s eagle eye, at roost on our last day among the tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes...


Easy Philippines

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Dion Hobcroft: May 06, 2018

Adri and I were back on the road in the Philippines for our 2018 tour, and it was good to be back birding with my good friend in this friendly and exotic tropical country. Our first day of birding started at Candaba Marshes, this year suffering from a very low water level. It was still remarkably active, and we had very good views of the two key endemics we were targeting here—the handsome Philippine Duck and equally handsome Philippine Swamphen. Plenty of other species kept our gaze oc...


Trinidad

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Barry Zimmer: April 25, 2018

Our first morning on the veranda of the Asa Wright Nature Centre was a literal whirlwind of activity. As the first light of dawn crept into the Arima Valley, activity began at the feeders off the veranda. At first it was a trickle; a male Silver-beaked Tanager arrived and sampled a piece of papaya, as did a handful of raucous Crested Oropendolas. A Rufous-breasted Hermit zipped into one of the many hummingbird feeders and was quickly chased by a White-chested Emerald. A pair of White-lined Ta...


Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals

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David Wolf: April 23, 2018

Costa Rica continues to amaze us, even after many trips over many years.  There is such an astounding wealth of things for the naturalist to see and do in this small, efficient, bird-friendly country!  Our 2018 “Short Costa Rica” tour took full advantage of this abundance for an action-packed week of birding, enjoying the spectacular scenery and fabulous vegetation almost as much as the birds themselves as we explored three very different environments, from the Caribbean...


Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge

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Barry Zimmer: April 20, 2018

On the last evening of our tour, as we were doing our final checklist session, Emil, the bartender at Chan Chich Lodge, approached me and in a quiet voice said, “Would your group like to see a Spectacled Owl?” With an emphatic, “Oh my god, of course!”, we poured out of the bar to the driveway outside, where Emil shined his light on a tree right next to the road, illuminating a fabulous Spectacled Owl. I ran to my cabana to get a scope, while others went back for binocu...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: April 20, 2018

We took our first Cuba style meal at the Miami airport with plenty of fried plantains, black beans, and moros y cristianos (rice with black beans).  As we boarded the plane, it seemed to everyone that so many years of waiting had become reality: Cuba was only 103 miles away! Cuban Grassquit— Photo: David Ascanio   Soon after the plane touched the runway in Camaguey airport, we were introduced to a Cuban tradition: explosive hand-clapping and smiles erupted...


Morocco

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Machiel Valkenburg: April 19, 2018

Our Morocco tour started out in the historical city of Marrakech, but we left the city on the very first morning, to come back for a detailed exploration of the region by the end of the tour. We headed for the coastal city of Agadir; unfortunately for us we were teased by the weather gods with a lot of rainfall during the drive southwest. For two full days we toured the coast and some very interesting wetlands and orchards—this time the gods behaved! As this area of Morocco receives mor...


Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes

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Paul Greenfield: April 17, 2018

The Andes Cordillera is far more than just a gigantic South American mountain range. The massive ‘wall’ that makes up the Andes forms an incredible mega-rich mosaic of diverse life-zones, ecosystems, habitats, and niches that are home to a mind-boggling concentration of living organisms. It was this concentration, with a special focus on its diverse birdlife, that we set out to explore and experience during our weeklong Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes tour. Sparkl...


Ecuador: The Best of Amazonia

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Paul Greenfield: April 17, 2018

The Amazon holds the most complex and species-rich ecosystem on earth, and our Ecuador: The Best of Amazonia tour, at Yasuni Kichwa Cultural Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center, afforded us a rich sample of that reality. We initiated our incursion into this spectacular realm with what could be described as a veritable time-travel experience as we left civilization behind in the bustling Andean capital city of Quito, traveled back a century to the frontier 'oil' town of Coca, and were transported v...


Winter Southern California

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Brennan Mulrooney: April 09, 2018

Sunny and 75 degrees…just like the San Diego Tourism Authority advertises. While the East Coast has been getting hammered all winter with Aidens, Benjis, Graysons, and who knows what other named winter storms, the southwest has been experiencing unusually warm and dry conditions. That’s exactly what we encountered on our Winter Southern California tour this year. No snow in the mountains, no rain on the coast, warm daily high temperatures, and an unusual number of wintering rare ...


Uganda Highlights

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Kevin Zimmer: April 06, 2018

This was the inaugural January departure of our increasingly popular Uganda Highlights tour, and it proved an unqualified success in delivering up-close-and-personal observations of wild Mountain Gorillas, wild Chimpanzees, and multiple bizarre Shoebills.  Beyond these iconic creatures, we racked up over 450 species of birds and had fabulous encounters with Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, African Elephant, Rothschild’s Giraffe, and an amazing total of 11 species of primates.  The...


VENTFLASH #235

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Victor Emanuel: April 05, 2018

Dear friends: Spring in Washington My window to the world is the view I have of Stacy Park from the picture window on the second floor of my house in Austin, Texas. In early February, all the trees I could see, except the live oaks and junipers, were leafless. By mid-March, all except the pecans and sycamore had leaves. In thinking about this transformation, I was reminded of the description of a similar change Louis Halle observed in Washington, D.C. which he described in h...


Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands

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Andrew Whittaker: April 04, 2018

Antarctica is, without doubt, the ultimate birding and wildlife experience on our planet, truly unique, like nowhere else on earth, and this year’s unsurpassable Antarctic cruise was no exception! The final frontier—Antarctica, the Falklands, & South Georgia (the icing on the cake)—was as dramatic as ever, from immense tabular icebergs, towering ice-covered mountains, and stunning glaciers to beaches absolutely teeming with wildlife. Daily, during our amazing land-based ...


Ornithology 101 in South Texas: A Learn-About-Birds Workshop

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Denver Holt: April 01, 2018

Our previous Ornithology 101 workshops were held in November. We moved our 2018 workshop to February to avoid the extremely hot temperatures of November. We got our wish, as it was cold and rainy the first day, and then just cool with sprinkles for the rest of the class. At our opening get-acquainted dinner we discussed the workshop and its objectives. At our first lecture the next morning we reviewed the fossil record of birds and their evolution, as indicated from morphology and more recent...


Rick Wright speaks at Audubon Society of Omaha

March 13, 2018

  Saturday, March 17, VENT tour leader Rick Wright will speak to the Audubon Society of Omaha (ASO) in Bellevue, Nebraska. Sponsored by ASO and Fontenelle Forest, 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 7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.      


Panama's Canopy Tower & El Valle's Canopy Lodge

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Jeri Langham: March 13, 2018

My fabulous co-leader, Carlos Bethancourt, and everyone made it to the Canopy Tower's Observation Deck for a pre-breakfast morning of birding while sipping coffee or tea. Several Howler Monkey troops had already begun letting the other troops know they survived the night and were still defending their territories. As dawn approached we began to hear Barred, Slaty-backed, and Collared forest- falcons, plus both Rufous and Broad-billed motmots. As it got lighter, we started seeing birds on all ...


Southern India

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Dion Hobcroft: March 12, 2018

We had yet another fantastic trip to South India—highly rated by all participants for great wildlife, food, and culture. The people everywhere were fantastic, and the trip ran seamlessly. Here is an account of our adventures in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. We met up in Bangalore where we were entertained by a magician at dinner. He was so convincing that I decided to take all the birds off my world list, as I could no longer believe my eyes! The next morning...


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