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

Namibia, Botswana & Zambia


Geoff Lockwood: September 21, 2016

Our pre-trip to the Namibian coast and Namib Desert gave amazing views of thousands of flamingos; a spectacular Great White Pelican—in full breeding plumage; several endemic larks and chats; Bank, Crowned, and Cape cormorants; and African Black Oystercatchers, as well as a variety of shorebirds and ducks. Raptors were well-represented, with great views of Peregrine Falcon and Rock Kestrel, with a way-out-of-range melanistic Black Sparrowhawk being the biggest birding surprise of the pre...

Montana Owl Workshop


Denver Holt: September 18, 2016

Our 2016 Montana Owl Workshop was another fun trip. We saw 5 species of owls, including Great Horned, Northern Pygmy, Northern Saw-whet, Long-eared, and Short-eared. We had terrific encounters as all species were breeding. In addition to seeing the owls and discussing field marks, we delved—in great detail—into evolutionary adaptations in owls and how owls cope within the environments they occur. On our first morning out, ORI (Owl Research Institute) researchers guided us to two N...

Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics


Andrew Whittaker: September 12, 2016

WOW! This fabulous tour is truly the real mecca of Andean Cloud Forest birding with an incredible 362 species, including a staggering 44 dazzling species of hummingbirds and 44 colorful tanagers! Voted top bird of the trip (with outstanding views) was the mythical tiny and cute Long-whiskered Owlet; and who can forget those drop dead views of the Spatuletail! Both are mega-birds and outstanding endemics. Our impressive Owlet record now standing as seen on 7 out of our last 8 trips! ...

Lima's Coastal Marshes and Humboldt Seabird Colonies


Andrew Whittaker: September 12, 2016

Lima is a premier birding destination with its mega-rich coastal wetlands of Pantanos de Ville Reserve and the coastal seas so close by. This is primarily because of one of the world’s richest currents just offshore, offering extremely rich pickings to a wealth of wildlife! Inca Terns— Photo: Andrew Whittaker   We began our exciting day birding on the outskirts of the town at the impressive Pantanos de Ville Nature Reserve with its rich wetlands, beaches,...

Northern Peru's Tumbes & Maranon Endemics


Andrew Whittaker: September 12, 2016

Spectacular as always, easy birding (with so many exciting Tumbes and Marañon endemics) combined with such unique and fascinating habitats can only make for a fantastically successful trip! We were blessed with great weather, superb birding, and amazing field breakfasts and lunches. Imagine, as dawn breaks, sitting down at a large table with hot coffee, steaming hot fried eggs or pancakes, fresh fruit, yogurt, and fruit juice, while enjoying stunning panoramic views. Thanks again to ou...

Papua New Guinea: West New Britain


Dion Hobcroft: September 07, 2016

The great majority of folks on our Papua New Guinea Highlights tour continued on to our extension of West New Britain, and we were joined by a new participant. The flight went well, and by lunchtime we were well set up in the lovely and very comfortable Walindi Dive Resort set on the coast at Kimbe Bay.  We had a super encounter with Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots in the gardens, thanks to some sharp spotting by Janene. Four adults were feeding two fluttering recently fledged juveniles. After ...

Papua New Guinea Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: September 07, 2016

I have been leading tours to Papua New Guinea for 15 years now, and the magical island still keeps on giving amazing results. It is possibly the most electrifying birding destination on the planet, and hopefully this transcript of our adventures will let you know why. We had a smooth flight and progress through immigration formalities so that we were able to schedule a pleasant afternoon birding stroll through the grounds of the Pacific Adventist University. In fact, we were accompanied by th...

Alaska: Barrow Extension


Kevin Zimmer: September 06, 2016

As usual, our Barrow Extension delivered the expected mix of high Arctic breeding waterfowl, shorebirds, jaegers, and owls, with a few surprises thrown in, that have made this outpost at the “top of the world” (more accurately, at the top of Alaska) a must-visit destination for birders. All of Barrow’s “glamour” birds were present and accounted for, starting with the eider “hat trick” of King, Steller’s, and Spectacled eiders on the tundra. We s...

Avian Jewels of Arizona


Barry Zimmer: September 03, 2016

Twelve species of dazzling hummingbirds! Seven species of owls! Nearly all of the southeastern Arizona specialty birds! Our Avian Jewels of Arizona tour had all of that and more. We began with some brief afternoon birding in Tucson, where we tallied Burrowing Owl, Tropical Kingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Tanager, and Abert’s Towhee to get our birding adventure off to a great start. Burrowing Owl— Photo: Barry Zimmer   The following day found us in...

Camp Cascades


Michael O'Brien: September 01, 2016

After a hiatus of three years, we ran this camp again in 2016, with a crew of fourteen enthusiastic and talented young naturalists. It was a special treat to have Victor Emanuel himself as one of the leaders on this event. The year 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of VENT’s youth birding camps, and Camp Cascades has been part of that program for much of that time. Congrats to Victor on 30 years of mentoring the next generation of birders, naturalists, and conservationists! S...

Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the M/V Evolution


David Wolf: August 31, 2016

Few destinations offer as rich and complete a natural history experience as the Galapagos Islands. The rugged beauty of these volcanic islands is breathtaking, the sheer abundance of wildlife is simply staggering, and photographic opportunities abound. But there is so much more to the Galapagos. Just the thought of walking in the footsteps of Darwin, on the very islands that shaped his theory of natural selection and had such a profound influence on the way scientists view the world today, is...

Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise


David Wolf: August 31, 2016

Quito, our arrival point into Ecuador, is an attractive city set in the Central Valley between two parallel ranges of the Andes. Pichincha Volcano looms over it to the west, while across a deep valley to the east are the Eastern Andes, their snow-capped peaks reaching for the sky. However, this is a dry region, blocked from the frequent rains on the outer slopes, and the birdlife is limited. This makes it all the more amazing that less than a two-hour drive to the northwest lies one of the ri...

Uganda Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: August 28, 2016

Once again we were successful in our primary goal of seeing wild Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and the superb Shoebill. We sighted more than 450 species of birds, more than 40 species of mammals, and had a lot of fun on our East African adventure. Our tour started with a great morning at Mabamba Swamp. Within an hour of searching by pirogue in the beautiful wetlands we had an adult Shoebill in perfect light ahead of us. We watched it unsuccessfully lunge forward to seize an unseen fish. It briefly l...

Grand Alaska Part II: Anchorage, Denali Highway & Kenai Peninsula


Kevin Zimmer: August 15, 2016

Spring came early to Alaska this year, following a winter with relatively little snow in most parts of the state. We felt the effects on the birds throughout the entire month of our Alaska tours, and although climate irregularities had negligible (if any) impact on the species tallied, there was no denying that the breeding cycles of birds and flowering cycles of plants were “off.” By the time our Grand Alaska Part II tour commenced (on June 18), fireweed was blooming all along Al...

Grand Alaska Part I: Nome & the Pribilofs


Kevin Zimmer: August 15, 2016

Our 2016 Grand Alaska Part I tour began, as always, in Nome, my favorite place to bird in all of North America. There is something indescribably special about the area surrounding this old gold rush town. The mix of special breeding birds on the tundra and large numbers of migrants staging at Safety Lagoon and other points along the coast, coupled with the very real chance of finding some rare stray from eastern Asia always makes for exhilarating birding. When you throw in a healthy complemen...

Camp Chiricahua


Michael O'Brien: August 10, 2016

The 2016 Camp Chiricahua was a very special one because it marked the 30th anniversary of VENT’s very popular youth birding camps. Kudos to Victor Emanuel for realizing the value of connecting young people to nature through birding and natural history study, and for making it happen through this program.  A big change for this year’s camp is that we ran it earlier in the season, beginning in late June. One slight concern we had about the early dates is that if monsoon rains w...

Minnesota & North Dakota


Erik Bruhnke: August 04, 2016

Our 2016 Minnesota & North Dakota tour was filled to the brim with a range of weather, as well as an outstanding array of bird diversity. The varied scenery is always a special highlight of this tour. Each day brought new birds, new sights, and new sounds. It is an amazing experience to be immersed in such a broad spectrum of life, and all of this takes place within the Northwoods of Minnesota and the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota. Our first day began with birding along the shores of L...

Grand Alaska: Gambell/Nome


Kevin Zimmer: August 03, 2016

No two spring visits to Alaska’s Bering Sea outposts are ever the same, mainly because the migratory pulses of breeders and Asiatic vagrants alike are dictated by weather patterns that, in these high latitudes, can be simultaneously extreme and ephemeral. This year, the winds at Gambell were mostly light to moderate and almost continuously out of the north-northeast to east, conditions which tend not to produce Asiatic vagrants. However, our timing proved most fortuitous, in that we wer...

Alaska Highlights


Barry Zimmer: August 01, 2016

Once again our Alaska Highlights tour lived up to its billing, providing us with incredible birds, impressive mammals, and endless awesome scenery. On our first morning, prior to catching a flight to Nome, we made a quick detour to a local park in Anchorage where, rumor had it, a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers were nesting. Not only did we see both the male and female woodpeckers visiting the nest, but we also tallied a wonderful pair of Pacific Loons in breeding plumage, several Red...

Colombia: The Central & Western Andes


Steve Hilty: July 27, 2016

A few years ago I summarized this trip with the following comments: curvy roads, landslides, massive road construction projects, tractor -trailer trucks, out-sized meals for carnivores, enchanting cloud forests, spectacular mountain scenery, rare parrots, hummingbirds, antpittas, colorful tanagers, mixed species flocks, and remarkably friendly, helpful people. Has anything changed? Actually yes, several things. There was less road construction this year, and there were more hummingbird feeder...