News: VENTflash Archive

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

VENTflash #185


Victor Emanuel: March 18, 2015

Dear friends, Two weeks ago, Barry Lyon and I represented VENT at the San Diego Birding Festival, presented by San Diego Audubon Society. Situated on Mission Bay just north of downtown San Diego, this was a wonderful event with great weather, terrific birding, and an opportunity to touch base with old friends and acquaintances, including many VENT travelers. Tricolored Blackbird — Photo: Barry Zimmer We had the privilege of co-leading two field trips. The first wa...

VENTflash #184


Victor Emanuel: February 03, 2015

Dear friends, Common birds are wonderful, but there is something special about a bird that turns up far outside its known range. Such an occurrence prompts all kinds of questions: Why did it travel so far from its normal range? What route did it take? How long will it stay? I spend a great deal of time on airplanes and on the road, so I don't normally chase rare birds. But when a rare bird shows up in my home birding area, that is quite an event. Striped Sparrow, from A Field Gu...

VENTflash #183


Victor Emanuel: January 14, 2015

Dear friends, It's hard to believe that we're already halfway through January, yet I am very pleased to report that VENT's winter travel season is well underway, with tours to New Mexico, Panama, Japan, Ecuador, and the Amazon River having departed in the first two weeks of the month, and with trips to Arizona, California, Florida, India, and Venezuela departing soon. The year that ended was the best in the 38-year history of our company, and I very much look forward to another successful yea...

VENTflash #181


Victor Emanuel: November 19, 2014

Dear friends, More than most people, birders are especially attuned to weather conditions and the changing seasons, as both affect birding productivity. Inclement weather can make birding a physically less enjoyable experience, yet it is often responsible for the appearance of a rare bird in your area. The changing seasons determine the mix of birds you see. In October and early November, for example, we say goodbye to the last of the southbound Neotropical migrants, unless we are fortun...

VENTflash #180


Victor Emanuel: November 03, 2014

Dear friends, I've always enjoyed October because it is one of the best months of the year for birding, the weather is beautiful just about everywhere, and the autumn foliage—particularly in the East—is at its peak. This October was especially memorable. Main lodge, Little St. Simons Island — Photo: LSSI I began the month by co-leading a Birding Workshop with David Wolf and Barry Lyon at Little St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast. This ten-thousand acre barri...

VENTflash #179


Victor Emanuel: September 25, 2014

Dear friends, This month has been a special one for me as I have spent time with friends in two wonderful places: Big Bend National Park in West Texas and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Sunset at Big Bend — Photo: Barry Zimmer Two weeks ago I went with a friend to Big Bend, one of my favorite places in the world. While better-known parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone are famous for their dramatic geologic features, the magic of Big Bend lies in the vastness ...

VENTflash #178


Victor Emanuel: September 04, 2014

Dear friends, There are places in the world whose wildlife concentrations defy description, where even photos are inadequate in conveying the sense of spectacle. I have just returned from such a place: Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. Most people have never heard of Etosha, but it happens to be one of the greatest wildlife viewing areas of Africa. I first went to Etosha in August 1982 when I co-led a VENT tour with David Wolf. Our local guide was an expatriate Dutchman...

VENTflash #177


Victor Emanuel: July 22, 2014

Dear friends, One of the many reasons I enjoy living in Austin, Texas is the opportunity to enjoy our city's unique urban wildlife spectacles. For instance, every evening in July we are treated to an incredible show where Purple Martins form a massive pre-migration roost in a stand of live oaks in the parking lot of a Central Austin shopping mall. First noticed about five years ago, this phenomenon has proven an annual event, garnering increasing attention year after year. Last year, the...

VENTflash #176


Victor Emanuel: July 08, 2014

Dear friends, On the evening of Saturday, June 28th, I was in Morristown, New Jersey with colleagues Michael O'Brien, Louise Zemaitis, and Barry Lyon attending an honorary celebration of Pete Dunne who is retiring as Executive Director of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory. This event was wonderful in many ways, and was a proud homage to one of the true legends of North American birding. In attendance were a host of Pete's colleagues from New Jersey Audubon, birding luminaries, an...

VENTflash #175


Victor Emanuel: June 10, 2014

Dear friends, After spending most of the month of May on the road, I am happy to be back in Austin for the final weeks of spring and the onset of summer. As I catch up on things at the office, I am delighted to report that VENT has enjoyed another outstanding spring travel season. I've received reports from tour leaders and tour participants alike on the success of VENT tours at home and abroad. On the domestic front, our tours to Colorado, Texas, Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, and Washington ...

VENTflash #174


Victor Emanuel: May 01, 2014

Dear friends, As many of you know, I own a beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula north of Galveston, Texas. I don't get down there as often as I would like, but this month I had the pleasure of spending sixteen days at this wonderful retreat, visiting with friends and birding at a number of famous nearby birding areas including High Island, the Bolivar Flats, and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Following is a day from my journal: Victor Emanuel and Dorian "Biking for Birds" Anderson...

VENTflash #173


Victor Emanuel: March 18, 2014

Dear friends, I've recently returned from the Eastern Caribbean where I co-led our Lesser Antilles Cruise aboard the Sea Cloud. In a little over a week, we traveled from Antigua to Barbados birding our way through a region that is home to some of the world's most beautiful tropical islands including Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. Legendary for their postcard-paradise scenery, these islands are equally famous to birders and naturalists for their remarkable biogeo...

VENTflash #172


Victor Emanuel: February 12, 2014

Dear friends, For over 20 years, VENT has been chosen by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to organize its annual Chairman's Council and Administrative Board retreats. This year's trip, from which I've just returned, was to Southwestern Louisiana in the vicinity of Lake Charles, and was co-led by the Lab's Executive Director, Dr. John Fitzpatrick; Director of Annual Fund and Stewardship, Scott Sutcliffe; Barry Lyon; and me. Northern Shoveler — Photo: Barry Zimmer We chose...

VENTflash #171


Victor Emanuel: February 01, 2014

Dear friends, Last week I was in Titusville, Florida with VENT leaders Michael O'Brien, Louise Zemaitis, and Barry Lyon, representing VENT at the 17th annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival. This event proved to be one of the best birding festivals I have ever experienced. The organizers did an outstanding job with the exhibition hall and field trips, and the wintertime birding was fantastic. I especially enjoyed seeing Sandhill Cranes (the remarkably tame Florida subspecies)...

VENTflash #170


Victor Emanuel: January 08, 2014

Dear friends, Warblers are my favorite birds, but in most parts of the country, few if any warbler species are found during the winter season. In their place appears another very interesting and diverse group of birds: sparrows. Unfortunately, sparrows are underappreciated by many birders since they are not colorful, can be hard to identify, and often are hard to see. However, what sparrows lack in colorful plumage is made up in lovely arrays of subtle buffs, browns, rusts, and grays. Mo...

VENTflash #169


Victor Emanuel: December 19, 2013

Dear friends, For birders and naturalists, every season has its special joys. Winter brings great flocks of waterfowl to many parts of the country as well as raptors and sparrows. Another winter treat is the appearance of mixed species flocks in our local woods. While not as diverse as the flocks in tropical forests, they are fascinating nonetheless. Black-crested Titmouse — Photo: Greg Lasley In both the Tropics and in more northerly latitudes, birds of different...

VENTflash #168


Victor Emanuel: December 05, 2013

Dear friends, In the spirit of the holiday season, we are offering two wonderful opportunities to give the gift of birds and nature! Once again, we are holding a Holiday Sale featuring discounts on a selection of upcoming VENT departures. I am also pleased to announce that holiday gift certificates toward the purchase of VENT tours are now available as well. I can't think of a better way to ring in the holidays than by treating yourself, a friend, or a family member to a VENT tour. I hope you...

VENTflash #167


Victor Emanuel: November 26, 2013

Dear friends, In over sixty years of birding, I have never experienced an event like the one that occurred two weeks ago while I was co-leading a field trip at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas. Along with colleagues Dave Irons, Shawneen Finnegan, and Barry Lyon, as well as 33 participants, we departed the Harlingen Convention Center at 7:00 a.m. aboard a bus bound for South Padre Island. About 20 minutes south of Harlingen we exited U.S. Hwy. 77 and set a course for ...

VENTflash #166


Victor Emanuel: November 05, 2013

Dear friends, About 20 years ago David Wolf, Kenn Kaufman, and I co-led VENT's first birding workshop in Rockport, Texas. The tradition continued this past March when Kenn, Barry Lyon, and I returned to Rockport to co-lead another workshop. Then, in early October, the three of us, including Kenn's wife Kimberly, co-led a fall migration workshop on Little St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast. Both of these trips were great successes, partly due to the birds we saw, but primarily because each...

VENTflash #165


Victor Emanuel: October 22, 2013

Dear friends, In September I had the opportunity to spend a week in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland ecosystem, famous for its abundant wildlife, especially Jaguars! Female Jaguar, Pantanal, Brazil — Photo: Kevin Zimmer Nothing I previously had heard about the place adequately prepared me for the extraordinary pageant of wildlife I saw. Among the many amazing sightings were hundreds of Wood Storks and Jabirus, hundreds of Yacaré Caimans, Hyacinth Macaws, Toc...