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

Panama: Bocas del Toro Archipelago

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Jeri Langham: May 15, 2017

Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge was built on Bastimentos Island adjacent to the large Parque Nacional Isla Bastimentos in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Archipelago. I scouted this location in January 2011 and immediately knew it was a fantastic location for VENT tours. Participants also have opportunities to snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, fish and/or swim in the warm Caribbean waters.  An enticing example of what awaits visitors to this marvelous birding paradise can be found in excerpts...


Bhutan

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Machiel Valkenburg: May 15, 2017

Before starting our thrilling exploration of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, we all arrived early into the lavish comforts of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Delhi, India. From Delhi Airport we flew with Druk Air, the national airline company of Bhutan, to Paro. We were lucky with clear weather, and all had good looks at Mount Everest. After clearing customs and changing some money, we were on our way. Not long after, we discovered our first classy bird, an Ibisbill that was foraging along the nea...


Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension

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Barry Zimmer: May 08, 2017

On the final day of our Hill Country Extension, we visited an area of juniper-covered foothills west of Uvalde. The road we were on had almost no traffic, so we were able to cruise slowly with the windows down and listen. As we rounded a bend, I heard the distinctive, jumbled song of a Black-capped Vireo right next to the road. We had seen this species two days earlier, but our views had been brief and somewhat frustrating, as the furtive vireos stayed largely hidden in the dense thickets (as...


Spring in South Texas

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Barry Zimmer: May 08, 2017

We reached the Norias Division of the King Ranch at dawn and quickly headed to the colony for a quick bathroom break before our birding began in earnest. We were laser focused on our four targets for the day (Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tropical Parula, and Audubon’s Oriole), and wanted to get to the appropriate areas for those birds as quickly as possible. Stepping out of the vans by the bathroom, it was hard not to be distracted. A Tropical Kingbird sang from...


Colorado Grouse

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Brian Gibbons: May 06, 2017

Starting in the Mile-High City, we climbed, descended, and circumnavigated Colorado for nine days, including a couple of side trips: Kansas, and a detour through Nebraska. Long van rides and early starts were all worth it as we covered 2,090 miles with 162 species to show for it. We got the native grouse slam—seven sought-after species—and many memorable experiences. So it begins: driving, birding, driving, eating, birding, some sleep, and another lek. Greater Sage-Gr...


Belize: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Michael O'Brien: May 03, 2017

The “Belize: Relaxed & Easy” tour is always our favorite way to welcome in the spring season, and this year’s trip was no different. One aspect of this itinerary that makes us feel particularly geared up for spring is the diversity of warblers we encounter—22 species on this trip, which is like a banner spring migration day at home! In addition to all the warblers and other migrants, we found a wonderful diversity of Neotropical species, with an emphasis on special...


High Island Migration

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Steve Hilty: May 03, 2017

The Gulf Coast/High Island/Bolivar Peninsula area surely ranks as one of the top birding spots in the country in April with migrants passing through in large numbers. And, I am told, birding is good year-round as well. We did not catch a true “fallout” on this trip, but we did have one rainy morning that slowed up some species that might otherwise have continued pressing northward, overflying the coast. Thereafter, however, the number of migrant warblers passing through the coasta...


Cloud Forests of Northern Peru Pre-trip Amazon River Cruise

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Andrew Whittaker: April 27, 2017

WOW! This fabulous tour truly is the real mecca of Andean cloud forest birding with almost 300 species recorded, including a staggering 39 dazzling species of hummingbirds and so many colorful mind-blowing tanagers! Voted the top two birds of the trip (with outstanding views of both) were the outrageous Spatuletail and, of course, the tiny, mythical, and cute Long-whiskered Owlet. I’m sure none of us will ever forget our drop-dead views of both of these mega and outstanding endemics, no...


Northern Tanzania: West Usambaras & Dry Country Specialties Extension

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Kevin Zimmer: April 26, 2017

Following a typically successful Northern Tanzania tour, our first West Usambaras & Dry Country Specialties Extension began with a few hours of driving to the east of Ngare Sero.  Along the way, we passed Kilimanjaro, but, on this day, the majestic mountain was invisible to us, obscured as it was by clouds and haze.  Beyond Moshi, we turned off the highway onto a dirt road leading to the Nyuma Ya Mungu (House of God) Reservoir.  That road traverses dry bush country that is ...


Northern Tanzania

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Kevin Zimmer: April 25, 2017

As has become the routine, virtually the entire group arrived in Tanzania a day early to recover from the international flights and enjoy some relaxing birding on the lovely grounds of Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, an old estate converted to an intimate tourist lodge.  Here, amidst the spectacular gardens and remnant forest bordering a lily-covered pond and trout stream, we gained an introduction to African birds, including several species that we would not see elsewhere on the trip.  ...


VENTflash #219

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Victor Emanuel: April 25, 2017

Dear friends: As we've reached the middle of spring, I am reminded again and again why April is my favorite month of the year. Where I live in central Texas, April is glorious—the trees are rife with fresh green leaves, spring wildflowers reach their peak displays, and migrating birds are on the move. April is also a time when I most enjoy spending time at my beach house on the upper Texas coast in close proximity to the famed Bolivar Flats and High Island bird sanctuaries. Hoo...


Thailand Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: April 24, 2017

We were back on the road in the Kingdom of Thailand for our annual tour—arguably my favorite tour because of the wonderful people, tasty food, and fabulous wildlife opportunities. It is always a great trip. This is especially so for the wonderful team who look after us so well in the field. This year was no exception.  As usual, we kicked off festivities in the fish ponds of Muang Boran. Some new fences had us temporarily perplexed before we found a way in. The first pond we peruse...


Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge

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Barry Zimmer: April 21, 2017

The first day of our Best of Belize tour began shortly after dawn in the tiny village of Crooked Tree. Our scheduled 6:15 AM breakfast was being seriously delayed by birds right around the lodge. White-fronted Parrots sailed into a large tree over the driveway. Brilliant Vermilion Flycatchers hawked insects from the fence line. Mangrove Swallows perched on an antenna over the lodge, while a Northern Jacana strolled by on the lawn. A Rufous-tailed Hummingbird visited the feeders and was follow...


Short Costa Rica: Toucan to Quetzals

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David Wolf: April 21, 2017

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 2017 “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...


Winter Rio Grande Valley

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Erik Bruhnke: April 19, 2017

VENT’S Lower Rio Grande Valley tour treats participants to a one-of-a-kind birding experience found nowhere else in the United States. The days are topped with subtropical habitat consisting of an array of woodlands, grasslands, arid brushland, resacas, coastal expanses, and more. The sights and sounds of the Lower Rio Grande Valley bird life are uniquely special. We began our tour with an adult Harris’s Hawk and an adult White-tailed Hawk perched not far from the road in the earl...


Cambodia

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Dion Hobcroft: April 14, 2017

It was a great pleasure to return to Cambodia and to the Angkor Village Resort, a truly lovely hotel. Our group of eight headed in the cool of the morning to explore the mixed deciduous forest with plenty of old growth trees that fringe the jewel in Cambodia’s crown, the Angkor Wat. The birds were running hot, as in quick succession we scoped Black-capped Kingfisher, Asian Barred Owlet, the disappearing Hill Myna, Ashy Minivet, White-throated Rock-Thrush, Hainan Blue-Flycatcher, Forest ...


Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito

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Brian Gibbons: April 13, 2017

Mottled Owls hooting, the Great Potoo screeching, and finally, the raucous Brown Jays announce dawn—this is waking up at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. Every morning, and sometimes the middle of the night, is filled with bird song. The lush garden surrounding the lodge is filled with birds each day, and we struggled to get onto the trails to discover the wilder tropical rainforest surrounding the lodge. From our first welcome drink to our final farewell, the staff at the lodge took care of u...


Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend

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Erik Bruhnke: April 13, 2017

Winter birding in northern Minnesota is an exhilarating experience. The area boasts a unique array of northern specialties found both year-round and some solely during the winter months. The snow and temperatures invigoratingly grace the landscape, providing nonstop scenic views of both Lake Superior and the boreal forest among other habitats. From daily locally-sourced cuisine to the birding experience as a whole, our 2017 Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend left us with warm memories of this ...


Nebraska: Platte River, Sandhill Cranes & Prairie Grouse

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Rick Wright: April 11, 2017

Even non-birders know about this thing called migration, but few of us—birders or not—are fortunate enough to experience the change of seasons in such drama and spectacle as can be witnessed in March on the Great Plains. This year’s tour managed to catch the very peak of the Sandhill Crane migration (a stroke of good luck not even the most foresightful leader can take credit for), and the large flocks of Western Meadowlarks, American Robins, and Snow and Cackling geese serve...


Caribbean Colombia: Santa Marta & Perija Mountains & the Guajira Desert

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Steve Hilty: April 07, 2017

This trip provided an entirely different suite of birds and a dramatically different suite of habitats than the Bogotá, Eastern Andes, and Magdalena Valley tour, which it followed. This also marked the first time we have departed from our long-standing Caribbean coast itinerary and included the relatively nearby Perijá Mountains, a narrow cordillera that borders Venezuela. The Perijá region has received much attention in the last few years from both the scientific and bir...


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