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

Cuba, March 4-14, 2015


David Ascanio: May 22, 2015

Cuba continues to offer a unique mix of birds, culture, and architecture hardly matched anywhere in the Caribbean. Our first approach to the Cuban birdlife allowed us views of the widespread Cuban Blackbird and the territorial Cuban Emerald. We also saw our first Red-legged Thrush, a distant Cuban Pewee, and several Antillean Palm Swifts nesting in the restaurant’s entrance roof. Cuban Tody— Photo: David Ascanio   From Santa Clara we drove north and acros...

Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country


Barry Zimmer: May 14, 2015

It appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, working its way down slope through the dry grass toward the feeding station. An intricate combination of spots, swirls, and streaks wrapped into a gorgeous chestnut, black, white, and buff plumage, it was truly a thing of beauty. The male Montezuma Quail stopped no more than 20 feet away and began to feed, seemingly unconcerned by our presence. We watched this amazing, highly-sought, and generally difficult-to-find species for almost thirty minutes, befo...

Thailand Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: May 13, 2015

It was great to be back in the Kingdom of Thailand, perhaps my favorite touring country in the world. Reunited with Mike and the team, our wonderful ground crew, the participants all enjoyed a smooth arrival. Before we knew it we were on the road and into the fabulous birds. Our first stop was Muang Boran, an area of freshwater ponds and fish farms. It is always very lively here, and we were off to a good start with the Asian Golden Weavers in glowing breeding plumage. Also of note was a Pall...

Best of Costa Rica


David Wolf: May 13, 2015

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 in the world where such a diversity of birds and other wildlife can be seen so readily, in such a compact area, and our 2015 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 ...

High Island Migration


Bob Sundstrom: May 12, 2015

The upper Gulf Coast of Texas ranks, hands-down, as one of the best birding spots in the country in April. Even in the relatively small area covered by the High Island Migration tour one can find as much amazing birding variety—200 species, give or take a few—as in any week of birding on the continent. Best known among birders in this focal area are the High Island sanctuaries—preserves of live oaks and other native trees that are at the receiving end of trans-Gulf migration...

Northern Tanzania


Kevin Zimmer: May 06, 2015

As has become the routine, the entire group arrived in Tanzania 1–2 days 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. Among our man...

Colorado Grouse


Brian Gibbons: May 05, 2015

This year’s Colorado Grouse tour encompassed all the seasons in a week’s time. From 12,000 feet at Loveland Pass with snow falling on a foot of fresh snow to t-shirt weather in Cottonwood Canyon, Colorado threw everything at us. The grouse still danced, and we witnessed these timeless spectacles at leks all over the state. The Dusky Grouse emerged on a roadside to give us exceptional looks at its ancient hooting ritual. Even the White-tailed Ptarmigan revealed itself two times in ...

Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension


Barry Zimmer: May 01, 2015

The Texas Hill Country in spring—there is simply no place else like it. With a unique combination of birds, spectacular wildflower displays, and one of the greatest mammal shows on earth, this region rarely disappoints. This year’s trip not only lived up to expectations, but exceeded them. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We began in Laredo and drove northward through mesquite brushland to reach the southern portion of the Hill Count...

Spring in South Texas


Barry Zimmer: May 01, 2015

We arrived at the Norias division of the King Ranch at about 7:15 AM. I was gathering my gear and preparing to step out of the van when I became aware that a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was already calling about 100 feet in front of us! It was calling from a fairly isolated mesquite, and although it took several minutes to locate, we eventually enjoyed great scope views. We had been on the ranch for about fifteen minutes, and our primary target was already in the bag! Green Jay— ...

Panama: Bocas del Toro Archipelago


Jeri Langham: April 28, 2015

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, fish, or swim in the warm Caribbean waters. An enticing example of what awaits visitors to this marvelous birding paradise can be found in excerpts taken from the journa...

Cloud Forests of Northern Peru Post-trip to the Amazon River Cruise


Andrew Whittaker: April 17, 2015

We experienced the ultimate in Andean Cloud Forest birding during an action-packed week of birdwatching. Our trip was filled with so many memorable moments and incredible highlights, ranging from the mega-rare White-faced Nunbird (voted top bird of the trip) to the lodge’s first ever White-throated Hawk. However, it’s impossible not to mention our amazing tanager overload, with 38 species covering every spectacular color combination imaginable, or our dazzling hummingbird show (if...

Amazon River Cruise


David Ascanio: April 16, 2015

Our second Amazon Cruise of 2015 was another magical trip, with a nice mix of quality birding, great group dynamics, and an unparalleled ship staff. Day by day, we learned about various topics from sedimentary river islands and oxbow lakes to Moriche palm stands or terra firme and riverine forest types. We also discussed the differences between varzea (riverine forest in white water rivers) and igapo (riverine forest in black water rivers) and appreciated the birdlife in each of these habitat...

Machu Picchu Extension Amazon River Cruise


Andrew Whittaker: April 16, 2015

Spellbound and awe-inspired on a remote Andean ridge in deepest Peru, sandwiched between two cloud-misted mountains, taking in the breathtaking view of Machu Picchu as the mist rose, was an unforgettable experience. Words can’t even begin to explain the phenomenal spiritual experience that occurs during a visit to one of the world’s most instantly recognizable landmarks. A center of the Inca Empire for nearly 100 years, Machu Picchu is today one of the most familiar icons and a mu...

Honduras: Copan Extension


Brian Gibbons: April 14, 2015

As we made our way west across the country of Honduras from the green-clad hills of Pico Bonito National Park, the countryside dried out. On the outskirts of San Pedro Sula we had a nice migrant flock of Swallow-tailed Kites making their way north to the swamps of the southeast US for summer. The southeastern edge of the Maya realm terminates in Western Honduras with the spectacular ruins in the Copan Valley. The drier valleys supported the Maya and their corn agriculture for hundreds of year...

Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito


Brian Gibbons: April 14, 2015

We enjoyed fine weather for the duration of our trip to the beautiful Lodge at Pico Bonito. Early arrivers had to settle for absolute downpour for their first couple of days in Honduras. We even lucked into a cloudy morning in the normally hot and dry Aguan Valley of the interior. Fruit trees of a variety of species were luring the Lovely Cotingas into view, and on our first morning we were overrun with these beautiful denizens of the forests of Pico Bonito National Park. Cruising the mangrov...

Belize: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Michael O'Brien: April 08, 2015

The perfect winter getaway, this year’s Belize: Relaxed & Easy tour was a nice break from a long, harsh winter up north. Although most of this tour takes place around two delightful lodges, it’s always fun to kick off the tour right in Belize City. This year, the Cinnamon Hummingbirds performed well at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel, where we also had instructive comparisons of the very similar Tropical and Couch’s kingbirds, and our first looks at a host of other species such...



Brian Gibbons: April 07, 2015

Within this tiny island of Jamaica we found varied habitats and more than a hundred species of birds, including all the Jamaican endemics. The biggest prize was surely the Crested Quail-Dove that Brandon extracted from the haystack of jumbled, vine-tangled forest that is John Crow Mountains National Park. We visited the dry Acacia-covered limestone hills of Portland Ridge, the green forest of Cockpit Country, the pastures and forests of Marshall’s Pen, the Morass at Black River, the fam...

Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals


David Wolf: April 05, 2015

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 2015 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 lowlands to the high temp...

Best of Indonesia: Davao to Bali


Steve Hilty: April 03, 2015

Indonesia is a large and unusually complex country that consists of some 17,000 islands, by some counts. The title of this tour hints at an unusual and exotic route. There is little doubt that this route and the islands visited were selected in part because of absolutely superb snorkeling and diving opportunities virtually every day of the trip. There also were a remarkable number of remote and seldom-visited villages keyed into the itinerary so that anthropology buffs were treated to new and...

Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge


Barry Zimmer: April 02, 2015

From the pine/oak savannah and open lagoons of Crooked Tree to the vast, protected rain forest surrounding Chan Chich Lodge, our Best of Belize tour was chock-full of highlights. We began with a day of land birding around the village of Crooked Tree. Our breakfast at Bird’s Eye View Lodge was full of interruptions. Brilliant Vermilion Flycatchers hawked insects from every direction we looked. Northern Jacanas strolled about the lawns like so many chickens. Overhead, White-fronted Parrot...