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

Athens

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Barry Lyon: July 19, 2018

From the time VENT began operating Birds & History cruises in Greece, we’ve supplemented our programs with optional additional time in Athens and the surrounding areas. The impetus for our Athens Pre-trip stems from the fact that our cruises visit other parts of the country, such as the famous Aegean islands or Peloponnese, and thus miss the great historical and cultural attractions of the Greek capital, in addition to a range of wonderful birds. Thus, the addition of an Athens Pre-...


Birding Across America by Train

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Michael O'Brien: July 17, 2018

We completed another exciting cross-country adventure this spring and were especially fortunate to have beautiful weather through most of our birding segments, and only minimal delays on the train. Our journey brought us to an incredible array of habitats, some amazing scenery, and an outstanding selection of birds including many local specialties. But just as exciting, we got to see the countryside go by from the charming confines of an Amtrak train, with the ambiance of a bygone era when tr...


Scotland in Style: Birds & History

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Andrew Whittaker: July 17, 2018

There is an extremely good reason why Scotland is often referred to as Bonny Scotland. This year, more than ever, the scenery was breathtaking, and we enjoyed superb birding amongst vibrantly colorful glens rich both in wildflowers and the incredible fresh hues of spring greens. This tour was a wonderful combination of delving into a wealth of Scottish history, from castles and stately homes to wild windswept battlefields, and warming up the cockles of our hearts with a wee dram on a visit to...


Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito

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Erik Bruhnke: July 17, 2018

Every day of our Honduras Pico Bonito tour was a unique birding adventure from the moment we arrived until the end of the last afternoon. The staff at Pico Bonito welcomed us with open arms and fruitful drinks. In addition to delectable dining experiences every day, our top-notch local guide, Olbin Benjarano, took extraordinarily good care of us. The entire visit to Honduras was above and beyond, and it all started with our first footsteps at the lodge entrance. Our first day of birding was a...


Dry Tortugas

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Rafael Galvez: July 12, 2018

As if we weren’t thrilled enough to be going to the Dry Tortugas, our excitement increased when we woke up the first morning to find the seas filled with Audubon’s Shearwaters. This small shearwater of the tropical Atlantic is generally solitary, and during most circumstances we are fortunate when we see two or three. By midmorning, we were all out on the bow’s deck enjoying a couple of thousand Audubon’s Shearwaters, many of them cruising past our boat or feeding on t...


South Florida & The Keys

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Rafael Galvez: July 12, 2018

We had barely stepped out of the van during our first stop birding together, and the trees in the parking lot at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West had dozens of warblers of several species darting in and out. Right away we saw many Cape Mays, Tennessees, and Black-and-whites in a single tree. That same Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera—a native coastal hardwood that is typically in bloom in April) had American Redstarts, Northern Parulas, Indigo Buntings, and a fleeting Yellow-billed...


Japan in Spring

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Kaz Shinoda: July 09, 2018

On May 10, right after enjoying an excellent view of a flock of three Japanese Murrelets on our ferry trip to Tobishima, we found spring migration in full swing on this small islet in the Sea of Japan. Yellow-browed Warblers were seen and heard here and there as soon as we started birding on the plateau of the island, where we ambled along a path on the quest to find migrating birds amid lovely vegetable gardens and forests on either side. Believe it or not, Yellow-browed Warbler is a rare tr...


Spring in Cape May

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Louise Zemaitis: July 09, 2018

With spring birding comes an element of anticipation. As the landscape greens and flowers begin to bloom, colorful Neotropical migrants arrive, joining the renewed chorus. VENT’s 2018 Spring in Cape May: Relaxed and Easy tour experienced some of the best of what the spring season has to offer. Perhaps the best surprise of the tour was our entire first morning’s outing. A short pre-checkout birdwalk at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge turned into a warbler extravaganza! The prev...


Spring Grand Arizona

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Jacob Drucker: June 21, 2018

Nowhere else in the United States is a better lesson in biogeography than southeast Arizona. Whether appreciating how rainfall and elevation affect the habitat gradients within the “Sky Island” matrix of mountain ranges, the plethora of adaptations that the flora and fauna have evolved to cope with life in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, or the dramatic influence of the Madrean line on species distributions, it is impossible to avoid thinking about the forces that make this re...


Yellowstone in Late Winter

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Denver Holt: June 12, 2018

Our 2018 Yellowstone trip lived up to expectations. Our base camp was Chico Hot Springs resort, a noted old Montana Dude Ranch and Hotel. Chico is about 30 miles from the north entrance in Gardiner, Montana. The north entrance is the original entrance dedicated in 1872. Each morning we casually drove to the park, and each morning we encountered hundreds of Elk and Mule Deer. Once arriving in Gardiner, we photographed Elk bedded down on front lawns, parks, businesses’ green space, or jus...


Southern England: Birds & History

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Rick Wright: June 08, 2018

No matter how often we Americans visit Britain—and it must be true the other way around—we are struck anew, in equal measure, by the similarities and the differences between our countries. The food, the language, the driving culture all reveal our shared roots even as they make clear the fascinating ways we have grown apart over the past four centuries. Baked beans for breakfast, hides and lorries and Eton mess, and those devilishly narrow country highways to be navigated from the...


France: Birds & Art in Provence

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Rick Wright: June 07, 2018

The life of the birder is a life of superlatives: we are always rejoicing in first-evers, in bests, in closests, farthests, fastests. Emotionally and intellectually, we leap from high point to high point, measured against chronological scales ranging from a lifetime to a week’s excursion to since-you-got-back-from-grabbing-your-hat-out-of-the-vehicle. Common Shelduck— Photo: Rick Wright   It seems like wherever we turned on this spring’s exploration...


Montana Owl Workshop

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Denver Holt: June 07, 2018

The winter of 2017/2018 was once again a harsh one in western Montana. Once it started, winter snow was almost continuous. In fact, record amounts covered the mountains and valleys. And, as I write this report on May 10, much of the snow pack above 5,000 feet is just beginning to melt.  In fact, normally at this time of year we can drive to most of our Boreal Owl nest boxes; however, this year we are still using snowmobiles. Winter numbers of vole-eating owl species started out good, but...


Bhutan

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Dion Hobcroft: June 04, 2018

It is fair to say that if they ironed out all the hills in Bhutan, it would be bigger than Texas. It is precisely this mountainous terrain that draws the birder to Bhutan—a remote Buddhist kingdom only comparatively recently opened up to Westerners. The highly diverse bird fauna of the Eastern Himalayas, with a Tibetan influence and a good sprinkling of Palaearctic migrants, ensures any visit will be a lot of fun, exciting, and quite an adventure. This is an account of this year’s...


Missouri & Arkansas

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Steve Hilty: June 01, 2018

Our visit to Prairie State Park in western Missouri started with “…a Barred Owl perched in the open on an electric wire at dawn.”  I wrote that sentence last year. But exactly the same thing happened again this year. In early morning light, about 0610 a.m., we watched this same owl (presumably) hunting, staring downward intently, once dropping to the ground, and then moving to a slightly different location on the wire to continue staring down at the grass in the ditch!...


Spring Birding in Spain

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Brian Gibbons: May 31, 2018

Spain was wonderful this spring, as always. Wine, amazing food, charming villages, stunning mountain scenery, and a few birds made for an excellent trip through this rich country. Starting in the famed marshes of Doñana, we wound our way north, east, and finally southwest through this diverse country ascending mountains, birding coastal marshes, and birding the dry steppe, home to bustards and larks. Finally, we ended in Madrid with our minds full of wonderful experiences and our check...


Big Bend National Park & the Texas Hill Country

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Barry Zimmer: May 30, 2018

In the late afternoon, we settled in behind the leader’s cabin to do our checklist for the day. We had already had a very productive day traveling from San Antonio to Concan, located in the heart of the Hill Country, and still had a visit to the Frio Bat Cave upcoming after dinner. Our first stop near Sabinal had yielded Golden-fronted Woodpecker, magnificent Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (we would tally an impressive 51 for the day), Couch’s Kingbird, nesting Cave Swallows, Black-cr...


Bolivar Beach House

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Michael O'Brien: May 30, 2018

Migration tours are always a bit of a crapshoot. Dates are locked in more than a year in advance, while weather patterns change by the hour. Typically, on these Upper Texas Coast tours, we hope for a day or two of good songbird migration and fill in the rest of our time with the bounty of shorebirds, herons, and other species that are always abundant at this season. This year’s challenge was that songbird migration was good all week, making it tricky to get to all the other spots we wan...


Spring in South Texas: Hill Country Extension

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Barry Zimmer: May 25, 2018

We arrived at Neal’s Lodge in midafternoon on the first day of the Hill Country Extension. We checked into our cabins and had a short break before meeting to do our checklist outside the leaders’ cabin and to discuss the evening plans. As we started the checklist, a Yellow-throated Warbler began singing in an oak right above us. We quickly located the bird and had wonderful views of this handsome species. Resuming our checklist session, we started hearing other chips of a mixed sp...


Spring in South Texas

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Barry Zimmer: May 25, 2018

On a tour filled with one successful day after another, the seventh day of our trip stood out above all others. It began along Highway 100 west of Port Isabel with wonderful scope views of an Aplomado Falcon. This striking species has become a fairly regular fixture on recent tours to this area, but such exceptional views of this highly sought bird seemed to be an auspicious beginning to our day. Whooping Crane— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We were headed out to South...


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