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

Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Bob Sundstrom: July 03, 2015

Just two hours east across the Cascade Mountains from Seattle, Leavenworth is a superb base for a spring nature tour in the state of Washington. Near the confluence of Icicle Creek and the Wenatchee River, Leavenworth looks up at splendid snowcapped Mt. Stuart. Our lodgings for four nights sit alongside the Wenatchee River as it tumbles down from the mountains, and every guest room features a balcony overlooking the rushing river. Early morning and during afternoon breaks, the balcony is a lo...

China: Birds & Culture


Dion Hobcroft: June 26, 2015

Our tour was very successful with largely excellent weather, smooth logistics, good food, and some great sightings. We recorded 225 species of birds including several extremely rare species: Baer’s Pochard, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Crested Ibis, Siberian Crane, and Jankowski’s Bunting leading the charge. We also enjoyed some fabulous mammals—ten species like the outrageous Golden Snub-nosed Monkey and an excellent Asiatic Black Bear. Add in a supporting cast of Great Bust...

North Carolina


Michael O'Brien: June 24, 2015

With an abundance of good weather, good seafood, and great company, this year’s North Carolina tour surpassed expectations and was a wonderful sampling of this region’s rich avifauna. Beginning in the quintessentially southern town of Wilmington, we first headed to Greenfield Lake. Dogwoods and Bald Cypress festooned with Spanish moss, and a healthy alligator population, gave this beautiful city park a real feel of the Deep South. Although well-manicured, the lake’s swampy m...

Spring in Cape May: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Louise Zemaitis: June 22, 2015

Cape May is known for being both a birding mecca and national historic landmark. VENT’s 2015 Cape May Relaxed & Easy tour, from the Red Knot and Horseshoe Crab spectacle to the thriving backbay saltmarsh ecosystem, to The Rusty Nail’s delicious berry cobbler, enjoyed the full spectrum of what this little seaside resort has to offer. The first morning’s drive from Philadelphia took us straight to Cape Island. En route to Cape May Point State Park, we made an impromptu sto...

Dry Tortugas


Rafael Galvez: June 18, 2015

Sometimes, the weather and bird migration come head to head in such a way that we are kept at the edge of our seats until the last moments of daybreak, sensing that an unforgettable experience could be in store. Such was the case on the eve of our departure towards the Dry Tortugas, after a tropical storm system pounded the Lower Keys with gale force winds and much rain in a manner that undoubtedly influenced our trip. The ingredients for an adventure were literally in the air. Not only were ...

South Florida & The Keys


Rafael Galvez: June 18, 2015

The South Florida and The Keys tour was a wonderful way to experience a combination of regional bird specialties, including Caribbean breeders returning to nest in the area, established exotics, and waves of migrants. During our journey through South Florida, we delved into a diversity of habitats, ranging from the tropical to the temperate, while exploring habitats found nowhere else in North America and encountering many plant species at the northernmost edge of their ranges. South Florida ...

Montana Owl Workshop


Denver Holt: June 18, 2015

VENT’s 2015 Montana Owls Workshop was another fun trip. We saw 6 species of owls, including Great Horned, Northern Pygmy, Boreal, Northern Saw-whet, Long-eared, and Short-eared. We had terrific looks at all species. On our first morning out, ORI (Owl Research Institute) researchers guided us to a female Northern Pygmy Owl peering from her tiny two-inch circular nest cavity entrance. She was very obliging for about 5 minutes and then retired back into the cavity, presumably to incubate e...

Spring Grand Arizona


Barry Zimmer: June 15, 2015

An argument can be made that this was the most successful spring Arizona tour that VENT has ever run! We tallied virtually every southeastern Arizona specialty, along the way netting 9 species of owls, 9 species of hummingbirds, a very robust 15 species of raptors (not including owls), and a dizzying 19 species of flycatchers! In addition we had the good fortune of seeing 3 Mexican visitors: Plain-capped Starthroat, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, and Flame-colored Tanager. Toss in some rarities li...

Spring Birding in Spain


Brian Gibbons: June 12, 2015

Soaring peaks, plains that stretch to the horizon, productive marshes, and more than 220 species of birds made for a wonderful trip across Spain. We drank, dined, and birded the Iberian Peninsula for sixteen exciting days. Flamingoes, sandgrouse, five eagles among twenty species of raptors, storks, spoonbills, Bluethroat, eagle-owl, gulls, Wallcreeper, Ring Ouzel, and some beautiful finches were all tallied during our tour of the delightful countryside in Spain. White-headed Duck...



Steve Hilty: June 10, 2015

When I first visited Bhutan in 1996 with David Bishop, I said that a visit to Bhutan was like entering a fairy tale world. Everything seemed so different and, in some sense, much of the country did seem frozen in time, with traditions and a culture that had seen relatively little change in centuries. Even its name, Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, seemed to reflect this fairy tale setting. The country was governed by a real king, a benevolent and enlightened one to be sure, but away from the ci...

California Specialties


Jeri Langham: June 05, 2015

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...

Rivers & Mountains of Oregon & Washington


Bob Sundstrom: June 04, 2015

Three downy owlets peered at their surroundings from atop a nest some 40 feet up in a large conifer. It’s a young brood of Great Gray Owls, about half grown, looking for their next meal. Not more than a hundred feet away, the owlets’ mother perches on a branch near the trunk of another tall evergreen, her body close to the trunk and all but invisible due to its cryptic gray feathering patterned just like the tree’s bark. As she gazes back and forth, her piercing yellow eyes ...

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...