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

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...

California Specialties


Jeri Langham: July 15, 2016

When I retired from California State University in May 2008, I was ready to do whatever I desired on my first free spring since starting kindergarten. Then I received a phone call from Victor Emanuel.  Would I like to take over the late April California Specialties tour? Before I began leading tours for VENT 30 years ago, I chased vagrant birds to all corners of California. However, once I became a part-time VENT leader on top of full-time university teaching, there was no extra time. In...

The Warbler Train: Kirtland's to Golden-cheeks


Michael O'Brien: July 08, 2016

Inspired by our popular “Birding Across America by Train” tour, our first “Warbler Train” was a busy and fun-filled adventure. Connecting coastal migrant traps on the Great Lakes, young jack pine forests in central Michigan, swamps and pineywoods in East Texas, and oak-juniper woodlands and canyonlands on the Edward’s Plateau, this north-to-south route intersected a diverse array of species. As the tour title implies, we had a special emphasis on warblers and wer...

Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Bob Sundstrom: July 07, 2016

Our Spring in the Washington Cascades tour begins in Seattle and comes at a perfect season to bird across the Cascade Mountains and among the varied habitats near Leavenworth, Washington. Just over two hours east across the Cascade Mountains from Seattle and near the confluence of Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River, Leavenworth looks up at splendid, snow-capped Mt. Stuart. Our lodgings for four nights sit alongside the Wenatchee River as it tumbles down from the mountains, and every guest r...

Spring in Cape May: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Louise Zemaitis: July 06, 2016

Spring in Cape May is a season of diversity. Birdsong fills the air from forest to field to marsh, as local breeders establish their territories. Migrants continually pass, many staging to replenish fat reserves for their long journeys, en route to summer homes. During VENT’s 2016 Spring in Cape May Relaxed & Easy tour, we enjoyed a fine sampling of bird sightings—and some wonderful sounds along the way! Semipalmated sandpipers and plovers— Photo: Michael O'...

VENT's 40th Anniversary Celebration


Victor Emanuel: June 21, 2016

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration was the biggest event in the history of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, and, I’m thrilled to say, a huge success! In bringing together 114 participants, 17 tour leaders, several of our office staff, and an array of special guests, we proudly commemorated the completion of our fourth decade of providing birding and nature tours of the highest quality. In some ways it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come and all that we’ve accomplished since...

South Florida & The Keys


Rafael Galvez: June 20, 2016

During our South Florida & The Keys tour, we explored a diversity of environments from the tropical to the temperate, allowing us to delve into habitats found nowhere else in North America and encountering species at the northernmost edge of their ranges. This tour is a great way to experience a mix of regional specialties, such as Caribbean birds returning to nest in South Florida, and established exotics including several parakeet species. A bonus is that many songbirds winter and migra...

Dry Tortugas


Rafael Galvez: June 20, 2016

With the right combination of planning, weather, and luck, nature-enthusiasts visiting the Dry Tortugas during late April could see large numbers and diversity of songbirds that use the islands of the archipelago as stopover sites during their long migratory journeys. The Dry Tortugas, as the name suggests, have no natural freshwater source. There is limited vegetation on the islands to offer migrants shelter and food. When adverse weather intercepts birds during their nocturnal voyages as th...



Dion Hobcroft: June 16, 2016

Bhutan, a remote mountainous Buddhist Kingdom, come democracy, caught between India and China, has developed an outstanding reputation as a country where one can see the incredible bird fauna of the eastern Himalayas. VENT has been traveling here since 1994, sometimes offering two tours a year. This was my tenth visit to the Land of the Thunder Dragon, and it never disappoints. Fire-tailed Myzornis— Photo: Ansar Khan   By April 10 our complete group had assembl...

Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country


Barry Zimmer: June 12, 2016

The best Big Bend tour ever? That argument can certainly be made for our 2016 Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country tour. We began our journey in San Antonio and quickly worked our way westward into the Hill Country. At our first stop (theoretically just a bathroom stop!) we tallied several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, nesting Cave Swallows, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, a skylarking Cassin’s Sparrow, a stunningly orange Bullock’s Oriole, and a Couch’s Kingbird amo...



David Ascanio: June 10, 2016

No matter how many consecutive times I lead Cuba tours, it is always exciting, as if it were my first time ever guiding in this amazing island. Maybe this is because of Cuba’s uniqueness, or its endemic birds, or possibly the mix of Neotropical warblers, or perhaps its amazing art deco architecture mixed with contemporary history, or maybe a mix of all of these things. Cuban Tody— Photo: David Ascanio   Part of this excitement comes from the fact that eac...

High Island Migration


Erik Bruhnke: June 10, 2016

VENT’s High Island Migration tour offers a breathtaking array of birdlife found throughout the pine forests and upper Texas coast during peak migration. Each day brought unique thrills of birds, as well as scenery on the ground and up in the sky. Every day was a “birdy” day, but several days were exceptionally noteworthy due to migrating birds reaching intense storms. By the end of this tour we had observed 205 bird species, 26 of them warblers. The smiles were nonstop. Our ...

France: Birds & Art in Provence


Rick Wright: June 09, 2016

There aren’t many rules in birding, but those there are must be obeyed without question. Walk slowly. Scan constantly. Listen carefully. And never, never ever, offer any guarantees. I’d violated that last one a couple of years ago when I guaranteed to Ann and Leslie that if they joined us in Provence, they would see hoopoes. Gently reminded of my rashness over our first group dinner, I worried all that night that I had backed myself into a birding corner.  No problem. Less th...

Patagonia with the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn


Rafael Galvez: June 06, 2016

During this magnificent cruise, we traveled from the remote shores of the Falkland Islands, around the captivating seas of Cape Horn, through the spectacularly scenic fjords and channels of Patagonian Chile and Argentina, and up the coast of the Pacific aboard the handsome Sea Adventurer, a 110-passenger ocean liner. Our adventures ranged from vigils for plentiful seabirds aboard the spacious decks of the ship, to Zodiac ventures along gorgeous channels lined with glaciers, to landing in remo...