News: Tour Reports

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

Cuba

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David Ascanio: June 22, 2017

Our second-of the-year tour to the largest of the Greater Antilles welcomed us with a mix of endemic and restricted distribution birds, unique Caribbean culture, and interesting architecture. And that’s because Cuba is an island packed with superlatives! On our first day we were already seeing unique birds, starting with views of Giant Kingbird, a bird with a huge bill, inviting discussion about its diet.  But there wasn’t time to philosophize about the natural history of eac...


A Week in the Llanos of Colombia

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David Ascanio: June 22, 2017

Our weeklong Colombia tour started in Chingaza National Park (name derived from the Muiscas Amerindian), a site that offered some high Andes birding, despite the clouds that covered the páramo (Andean habitat found above tree line). There were Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, Glowing Pufflegs, wonderful flowering orchids, a skulking Pale-bellied Tapaculo and much more. After enjoying such a rich and varied avifauna, the morning gained momentum when an Andean Pygmy-Owl was found at th...


Missouri & Arkansas

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Steve Hilty: June 02, 2017

Despite an unusually strong and rainy weather system the week prior to our trip, with up to twelve inches of rainfall in some portions of the Ozarks, we enjoyed good weather during our trip, and only one rainy morning. So where did all that rain go so quickly? Our visit to Prairie State Park in western Missouri started with a few adventures, beginning with a Barred Owl perched in the open on an electric wire at dawn. Minutes later we stopped for a lively group of migrating Bobolinks on fence ...


Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country

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Barry Zimmer: May 30, 2017

Our 2017 Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country tour was arguably our most successful ever, and the addition of a day in Del Rio contributed mightily to that success. In recent years, a very small population of White-collared Seedeaters had been discovered at a few localized spots in the Del Rio area. Our past tours have gone through Del Rio at midday en route to Big Bend National Park, but never had time for birding. With this year’s added overnight in Del Rio (which also ...


Montana Owl Workshop

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Denver Holt: May 29, 2017

The winter of 2016/2017 was particularly harsh in the northwestern U.S. Here in western Montana, it was near historic. Brutal cold and lots of snow gripped us for much of early and mid-winter. In fact, snow was present on the ground the entire winter—which is rare for us. Spring wasn’t much different, as low temperatures and near continuous rain lasted through April. As a result of this winter, many species of wildlife had a difficult time—including owls. We had great diffic...


Best of Costa Rica

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David Wolf: May 26, 2017

Even after many trips over many years we continue to be amazed by Costa Rica, so small in size but huge in possibilities! There are few other places where such a diversity of birds can be seen so readily, in such a compact area, and our 2017 “Best of Costa Rica” tour took full advantage of this wealth as we roamed from one side of the country to the other. Costa Rica has done much to promote conservation, and this really paid off for us, with an astounding number of birds seen. Ev...


Bolivar Beach House

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Michael O'Brien: May 23, 2017

A new offering in 2017, the Bolivar Beach House was a new twist on birding one of the richest stretches of coastline in North America. Our home base, Sandy Orchid Lodge, was just delightful. Aside from being roomy and very comfortable, the house offered a grand vista of the Gulf of Mexico right off the front porch. A little seawatching during morning coffee or afternoon cocktails was always rewarded with a steady flow of gulls, terns, and pelicans, along with small groups of migrating shorebi...


Botswana: From Desert to Delta

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Geoff Lockwood: May 22, 2017

The three camps used on this itinerary were specifically chosen to provide an insight into the spectacular variety of habitats and wildlife that Botswana offers. Each offered a different facet of this amazing country—from the semi-desert of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to the mixed woodland, floodplains, and seasonal channels in the Vumbura Concession. We wrapped up the tour in the Jao Concession, located in the northwest of the permanently flowing section of the Okavango Delta sys...


Brazil: Amazonia on the Rio Roosevelt

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Andrew Whittaker: May 16, 2017

A unique and truly magnificent pristine Amazonian wilderness awaited us as we took off on our private charter flight from Porto Velho, our destination the exclusive, plush Pousada Rio Roosevelt and its fantastic birding! We launched ourselves back in time to 1913–14, following in the footsteps of the ex US president Theodore Roosevelt on his famous River of Doubt expedition. Teddy himself actually camped on April 21, 1914 on the exact same beach (below the Santa Rita rapids) where today...


Amazon River Cruise

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David Ascanio: May 16, 2017

If you put together great cloud formations, impenetrable green vegetation, loud macaws either perched or flying, primates, huge rivers, pink dolphins, amazing downpours, a rich number of raptors, and the wonderful event of bird migration, you’ll have a complete picture of the Amazon as a biome. Add to this picture a never-ending mix of cultures, from Amerindian to African and Europeans, and you’ll get a holistic view. Yes, I am sure that you came to the Amazon River thinking about...


Northern Ecuador Hummingbird Extravaganza

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Paul Greenfield: May 15, 2017

Hummingbirds—their aerodynamics, glittering prismatic plumage, pugnacious/audacious behavior, their exhausting acrobatics and frenetic lifestyles, and their sheer coolness brought us together here in Ecuador to witness this year’s truly unsurpassable extravaganza. We observed a whole lot of these incredible creatures, these “jewels of the Sun God,” from within their fascinating world, within the diverse ecosystems and varied environments they inhabit, as we traced an i...


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 ...


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