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

California Specialties

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Jeri Langham: July 20, 2017

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 31 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...


Southern England: Birds & History

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Andrew Whittaker: July 18, 2017

During an English spring at its best in Kent, the “Garden of England,” every day we experienced a marvelous mix of spectacular birding and delving back into the enthralling English history from Roman times to World War II. This magical combination is always a winner, resulting in a tremendously successful tour. Running this tour in spring ensured we would hit England at the most beautiful time of the year, with migration in full swing, perfect fresh breeding plumage, and woods ful...


Dry Tortugas

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Rafael Galvez: July 17, 2017

The Dry Tortugas never disappoints! During this tour we found a great representation of migrants and Caribbean specialties, and experienced close encounters with the colonial birds that breed exclusively in the archipelago. Highlights were many, including marine turtles, dolphins, and the company of a fun group of tour participants. Antillean Nighthawk— Photo: Rafael Galvez   What makes our VENT tour to the Dry Tortugas special is that we get to spend an extend...


South Florida & The Keys

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Rafael Galvez: July 17, 2017

South Florida in the spring can be a magical experience, filled with untold avian possibilities: hundreds of migratory species stopping over the region during northbound flights, returning Caribbean breeders settling in their territories, and the prospect of vagrants from the Tropics. This spring season, the region experienced an extraordinary record of Caribbean vagrants, unmatched by no other season in recent history. With relatively little effort, we saw three vagrants during our tour &nda...


Japan in Spring

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Brad Schram: July 14, 2017

As the evening of May 7 approached, all had safely arrived at Excel Hotel Tokyu in Terminal 2, Haneda International Airport, Tokyo for our tour of Japan’s offshore island highlights.  Meeting in the lobby at 7 PM, we proceeded to the dining room for an excellent meal and became acquainted.  Tales of travel and brief local birding excursions were exchanged before Kaz briefed us on the next day’s flight to Shonai Airport and onward to Sakata to begin our tour. ...


Spring Grand Arizona

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Brian Gibbons: July 14, 2017

Our tour through Arizona was a study in contrasts: deserts and mountains, hot and cold, grasslands and woodlands. The variety of habitats allows for a great diversity in wildlife, which we sampled during ten days in the Catalinas, Santa Ritas, Huachucas, and Chiricahuas, to name the spectacular sky islands we visited. One of the world’s few venomous lizards, the Gila Monster, crossed our path in Aravaipa Canyon, and several nights of owling finally netted most of our target birds, but a...


Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Bob Sundstrom: July 12, 2017

The morning of the fourth day of our 2017 Spring in the Washington Cascades tour found us at the foot of a canyon in the Entiat Mountains, just where the canyon opens to the massive Columbia River. At the canyon’s mouth, basalt cliffs tower several hundred feet above steep slopes of grass and sagebrush. Boldly marked White-throated Swifts zipped across the high rim of the cliffs, alongside Violet-green Swallows. A Canyon Wren sang its whistled, descending phrases. Soon a Yellow-breasted...


Birding Across America by Train

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Michael O'Brien: July 12, 2017

Our journey across the country was a marvelous sampling of habitats, from eastern deciduous forest near Albany to boreal bogs and lakes in the Adirondacks, to wide-open prairie grasslands and pothole marshes in North Dakota, to the rugged coastline and moss-covered temperate rain forest of the Olympic Peninsula. Along the way, passing by little towns, each with its own unique charm, and watching the landscape change gradually, or sometimes abruptly, is the real thrill of cross-country travel....


Spring in Cape May: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Louise Zemaitis: July 10, 2017

From the beaches and marshes of South Jersey’s cape to its forests and farmlands, VENT’s 2017 Spring in Cape May Relaxed & Easy tour was a delight of sights and sounds. Each day our merry group enjoyed a wonderful sampling of the region’s diverse wildlife and scenery.  Although we usually start the tour with a quick exit to Cape May, a recent cold front begged us to take a peek at nearby John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge before leaving Philadelphia. This urban ref...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: July 07, 2017

Once the plane touched the tarmac of the Camaguey airport, we experienced an eloquent hand-clapping that followed the scratching of the plane tires (part of the Cuban culture), and soon after the plane stopped in front of the terminal, we were descending the stairway to feel the iconic Caribbean breeze with warm air blowing in our faces. Welcome to Cuba! From the first day we submerged ourselves into a country so different from any other that each day turned out to be better or radically diff...


Scotland in Style: Birds & History

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Andrew Whittaker: July 07, 2017

Breathtaking Scottish highland scenery; superb birding among a constant flush of spring greens combined with colorful flowers; exploring a wealth of  interesting historical sites (castles, stately homes, and battlefields); and wrapping up by visiting one of the world’s finest Scots Whisky Distilleries to sample a wee dram—what more can one ask for? Combine this with a wonderful group of people based in a superb historic (birding) hotel where we were treated like kings, with e...


Italy: Birds & Art in Tuscany

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Rick Wright: July 05, 2017

The whole point of travel, especially travel with a natural historical and cultural focus, is to attain a first hint of intimacy with a new landscape, or with a landscape we think we know in a different, perhaps more superficial way. Our 2017 tour of Tuscany found us strolling the roads the Romans strolled, examining chisel marks in some of the finest sculpture in the world, and getting as familiar as possible with Tuscan cuisine that ranged from delectable to magnificent. Some of our most ge...


France: Birds & Art in Provence

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Rick Wright: June 28, 2017

It looked for all the world like a grotesquely huge domestic mallard standing out in the field, a buff Orpington or some similar barnyard monster, but German glass resolved the early morning lump into something much more exciting: a nearly adult Egyptian Vulture, a first for this tour. The great white vulture—now quite rare anywhere near Arles—was only one of the avian surprises our 2017 group, quick-eyed and congenial, would encounter. A beautiful Red-backed Shrike, the soft powd...


Sicily: Extension to the Sicily & Malta Cruise Aboard the Sea Cloud

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Barry Lyon: June 25, 2017

The impetus for a Sicily Extension to our cruise, Sicily & Malta aboard the Sea Cloud, came from two important facts: first, Sicily boasts innumerable amazing places and landscapes that we were unable to include in the cruise program; and second, a land-based tour would include a more thorough natural history experience. When designing this program, we knew that we should concentrate on eastern Sicily. This part of the island holds Sicily’s best wetland and montane habitats and some...


Sicily & Malta: History, Culture & Nature

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Barry Lyon: June 25, 2017

The central Mediterranean was the venue for our first-ever voyage to the islands of Sicily and Malta aboard the Sea Cloud. And while each of these islands were worthy attractions in their own right, it was the opportunity to sail aboard the venerable Sea Cloud that captured the hearts and minds of so many. With its immemorial Greek heritage, Sicily was a natural draw for us given our emphasis in recent years on the birds and ancient history of the Mediterranean. Boasting Greek temples to riva...


Malta Pre-trip to the Sicily & Malta Cruise Aboard the Sea Cloud

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Barry Lyon: June 25, 2017

Our 2017 cruise to Sicily & Malta aboard the Sea Cloud marked VENT’s first-ever visit to the island-nation of Malta. In actuality, the Malta portion of the cruise consisted of only a single night in the seaside community of St. Julians and much of the next day touring Valletta, the island capital. From a scouting trip that Victor and I conducted almost a year ago, we knew that Malta, despite its tiny size, offered an abundance of historical and natural attractions that warranted mor...


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 ...


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