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

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...

Colorado Grouse


Brian Gibbons: June 05, 2016

Twenty-three hundred miles, elevations from 3,000 to 12,000 feet, and some of the best weather we have ever enjoyed defined our circumnavigation of the great state of Colorado* (the asterisk, of course, for our unplanned detour to Kansas for Lesser Prairie-Chicken, as the Colorado birds continue to decline). On our first morning, just west of Denver, we searched in vain at Loveland Pass for the master of camouflage, White-tailed Ptarmigan. We did enjoy all three Rosy-Finches at Silverthorne a...

Spain: Birds & Art in Catalonia


Rick Wright: June 05, 2016

Of all of western Europe’s natural and cultural landscapes, it is hard to imagine one more rich in contrast and contradiction than Catalonia. No tour, far less one of little more than a week, could hope to sample all of that bewildering variety, but we made a good effort during our time together and were rewarded with sights and insights denied to those who cast their touristic nets more narrowly. As the environmental hook on which we hung our ambitious itinerary, the birds of Catalonia...

Brazil: Amazonia on the Rio Roosevelt


Andrew Whittaker: June 02, 2016

Full of anticipation and with great excitement, we boarded our private charter to the famous Rio Roosevelt, “River of Doubt,” and its pristine Amazonian wilderness and plush lodge. No sooner had we left the bustling town of Porto Velho and the murky waters of the mighty Rio Madeira behind than a vast green carpet unfolded before us, stretching to the horizon. We were mesmerized by the huge Amazon rainforest below, which was bisected by remote meandering rivers (both black and whit...

Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension


Barry Zimmer: June 01, 2016

April in the Texas Hill Country—certainly there could be no better way to conclude our Spring in South Texas tour than with a four-day extension to this diverse and scenic region of the state. Our 2016 trip was assuredly one of our most successful ever, with myriad highlights. Traveling north from Laredo, we passed scores of magnificent Scissor-tailed Flycatchers along the roadsides (tallying an impressive 142 for the day!). Several Crested Caracaras, a colony of Cave Swallows, multiple...

Spring in South Texas


Barry Zimmer: June 01, 2016

From the magnificent Whooping Cranes of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to the rare and diminutive White-collared Seedeaters of Laredo, this Spring in South Texas tour had it all! We began our trip in Corpus Christi with promising north winds blowing all day long. A late afternoon visit to Tule Lake yielded a good introduction to the Texas Coast with a comical Reddish Egret stealing the show and dazzling Roseate Spoonbills vying for top honors. Reddish Egret.— Photo: Barry...

Winter Rio Grande Valley: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Erik Bruhnke: June 01, 2016

The Winter Rio Grande Valley Relaxed & Easy tour hosts an amazing array of bird diversity intermingled throughout mild winter days. The habitat of the Lower Rio Grande Valley creates a home-sweet-home for many year-round resident species like Clay-colored Thrush, Plain Chachalaca, and Green Jay. While being contiguous to the migration route of many ABA species, as well as birds found in northeastern Mexico, the Lower Rio Grande Valley really shines as one of the premier birding spots in t...

Missouri & Arkansas


Steve Hilty: June 01, 2016

Despite strong weather systems to the north and south of the area we visited, we enjoyed good weather almost throughout the trip except for unseasonably cold temperatures the first day and a few brief, light rain showers the last day. We were able to find 17 of 18 species of breeding warblers, with most of them seen repeatedly.  Temperatures at Prairie State Park, on our first morning, were surprisingly cold, but we still saw a surprising number of migrant and resident species. Tops on t...