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

VENTflash #187

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Victor Emanuel: June 09, 2015

Dear friends, The Biggest Week in American Birding has become one of the most significant and widely attended events on the North American birding scene. Held annually just east of Toledo, Ohio, The Biggest Week commemorates the spring passage of warblers and other Neotropical migrants. For a few precious weeks each May, woodlands along the south shore of Lake Erie teem with migrating birds that have paused during their northbound journeys prior to crossing the huge lake. The opportunity to s...


VENTflash #186

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Victor Emanuel: May 12, 2015

Dear friends, For the last month, spring has been in full swing in many areas of the country. Here in Texas, shorebirds and songbirds have been pouring through the region en masse as the migration period reached its peak. Birders from near and far have scoured all of the traditional sites along the Texas coast witnessing the northbound push of waterbirds and Neotropical migrant songbirds. American Avocets — Photo: Michael O'Brien I dearly love April because this is the mont...


VENTflash #185

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 ...


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