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

VENTFLASH #238

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Victor Emanuel: June 27, 2018

Dear friends, At first glance, early summer in central Texas may seem comparatively uninteresting for birds and nature. The migrant birds of spring have long since passed through, and the local breeders have mostly stopped singing to tend nests and nestlings. Moreover, the "dog days" of summer have arrived with daily temperatures rising into the nineties. However, if one is willing to adjust his or her expectations, early summer is still a fine time to be outdoors. For example, a late June bi...


VENTFLASH #237

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Victor Emanuel: June 13, 2018

Dear friends, Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in the history and culture of ancient Greece. Fifteen years ago, I met Dr. Paul Woodruff, who teaches philosophy and classics at the University of Texas, Austin. We became fast friends and discussed the possibility of putting together a tour to Greece. That conversation led to VENT's first-ever Greece tour, a Birds & History cruise from Athens to Istanbul that I led in 2005 with Paul and VENT colleague Barry Lyon. Including...


VENTFLASH #236

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Victor Emanuel: May 10, 2018

Dear friends: For several years I've wanted to spend most of April at my beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula on the upper Texas coast. My house is situated close to the famed Bolivar Flats and High Island bird sanctuary, two of the premier places in North America for experiencing the magic of spring migration. Every spring this region plays host to millions of shorebirds, hawks, and songbirds that pass through or linger in the area, and my house is right in the middle of it! There is no othe...


VENTFLASH #235

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Victor Emanuel: April 05, 2018

Dear friends: Spring in Washington My window to the world is the view I have of Stacy Park from the picture window on the second floor of my house in Austin, Texas. In early February, all the trees I could see, except the live oaks and junipers, were leafless. By mid-March, all except the pecans and sycamore had leaves. In thinking about this transformation, I was reminded of the description of a similar change Louis Halle observed in Washington, D.C. which he described in h...


VENTFLASH #234

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Victor Emanuel: February 22, 2018

Dear friends, I've only recently returned from co-leading a tour to Cuba, but I am already preparing to leave on my next trip. This Sunday I will be back on the road with colleagues Barry Lyon and David Ascanio in advance of a special departure that we'll lead for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to the islands of the Lesser Antilles. Sea Cloud — Photo: Courtesy Sea Cloud Cruises VENT operates an annual trip for the Lab's Chairman's Council, and this year the Lab has reserved...


VENTflash #233

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Victor Emanuel: February 14, 2018

Dear friends: I first considered going to Cuba in 1958, just after I graduated from high school. A birding friend and I planned to drive to Key West, Florida and put our car on the ferry to Havana. However, early in 1959 the finale of the Cuban Revolution put an end to that plan. In the late seventies, some birders started going to Cuba, including Dr. James Clements. In 1981, Ted Parker and John Rowlett co-led VENT's first Cuba tour as a pre-trip to the American Birding Association's national...


VENTflash #232

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Victor Emanuel: January 30, 2018

Dear friends: Yesterday morning I had an excellent conversation with VENT tour leader Andrew Whittaker, who has recently returned home from leading our annual cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands. Andrew reported having a wonderful trip, and that his tour group went home extremely happy. Among the many highlights were mixed colonies of albatross, penguins, and shags in the Falkland Islands, tens of thousands of King Penguins on majestic South Georgia Island, and many...


VENTflash #231

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Victor Emanuel: January 09, 2018

Dear friends: It has been a while since you last heard from me. December was something of a whirlwind at VENT, as the month was dominated by the planning and execution of our bi-annual Company Meeting. Every two years, we gather our staff at our home base here in Austin, Texas to renew acquaintances, touch base with colleagues who don't see one another very often, and discuss important issues that affect our business. These events are always a lot of work, but they benefit VENT in some very i...


VENTflash #230

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Victor Emanuel: November 03, 2017

Dear friends: It is a busy time at VENT. We have begun assembling our 2019 tour schedule, and plans are underway for our biennial company meeting, to be held here in Austin in mid-December. In addition, I am leaving tomorrow morning for Israel where I will co-lead, with Barry Lyon and Jonathan Meyrav, our inaugural Israel tour, Israel: Birds, History & Culture in the Holy Land. Ruins of Nimrod Fortress on the north Galilee, Israel — Photo: Kobby Dagan/shutterstock...


VENTflash #229

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Victor Emanuel: October 19, 2017

Dear friends: Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Lake–Cook Audubon meeting in Highland Park, Illinois, and signing copies of my book One More Warbler: A Life With Birds. Attendance was lower than expected, as the Chicago Cubs were in a crucial playoff game that evening, but we enjoyed a fine turnout nevertheless. The next morning, I co-led a bird walk with my friend Wendy Paulson. Our walk took place in a restored tallgrass prairie near Wendy's home. We saw a wonderful...


VENTflash #228

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Victor Emanuel: September 27, 2017

Dear friends, One of the many wonderful things about being in nature is that you never know what you will see. If you have the right attitude, you will never return empty-handed from spending time outdoors. Last week I had the great pleasure of spending a morning at my favorite local birding area, Hornsby Bend, with my friend and author Scott Weidensaul. Scott had come to Austin to give a presentation for the Travis Audubon Society (TAS). Western Diamondback, September 21, 2017&mdash...


VENTflash #227

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Victor Emanuel: September 12, 2017

Dear friends, In late August I traveled to Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park where Brian Gibbons and I co-led VENT's first-ever Solar Eclipse tour. I am pleased to report that the trip was a great success. We toured with a wonderful group of people, enjoyed good birding and wildlife viewing amid one of the great landscapes of the Lower 48, and were treated to superb views of the total eclipse from atop a ridge in the Teton National Forest. Brewer's Sparrow — Photo: Greg Las...


VENTflash #226: Free Webinar! Seychelles & Madagascar with Aldabra Atoll

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Victor Emanuel: September 07, 2017

Dear friends: On Wednesday, September 13, my colleague Barry Lyon and I will host a free webinar, the last in our 2017 series of webinars in collaboration with Zegrahm Expeditions, in which we'll discuss VENT's upcoming cruise: Seychelles & Madagascar with Aldabra Atoll, October 20-November 6, 2018. Seychelles and Madagascar with Aldabra Atoll For this special departure (VENT hasn't been to the Seychelles in eight years), we'll travel aboard the elegant Silver Discoverer on a...


VENTflash #225

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Victor Emanuel: August 09, 2017

Dear friends: August brings some of the hottest days of the year to central Texas, but it also brings southbound shorebirds in increasing numbers. My favorite local birding area in Austin is the wastewater treatment center at Hornsby Bend, an excellent place to observe shorebirds in late summer. Last week, on a particularly memorable visit there, I saw 14 species of shorebirds including several species that I had not seen since spring. Baird's Sandpiper — Photo: Greg Lasley ...


VENTflash #224: Circumnavigation of Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island - Free Webinar!

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Victor Emanuel: August 03, 2017

Dear friends: On Wednesday, August 16, my colleague Barry Lyon and I will host a free webinar, the next in our series of webinars in collaboration with Zegrahm Expeditions, in which we'll discuss VENT's upcoming cruise: Circumnavigation of Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Island, May 19-June 3, 2018. For this special trip, we'll travel aboard the beautiful Caledonian Sky, voyaging from Honshu ("mainland" Japan) north through the Sea of Japan to Hokkaido before performing a circumnavigation of Japan's n...


VENTflash #223

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Victor Emanuel: July 26, 2017

Dear friends: Summer is a very important time of the year for me because that is when we operate our camps for young birders and naturalists: Camp Chiricahua in Southeast Arizona and Camp Cascades in Washington State. Rowan O'Shea — Photo: Brian O'Shea I have long regarded VENT's summer youth camp program as one of the best things our company has ever done. About 500 young birders and naturalists have attended these camps over the past 31 years. Some of these kids have led ...


VENTflash #222

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Victor Emanuel: July 12, 2017

Dear friends: Amid the start of a busy week here at VENT, I'm touching base with you briefly to let you know about four developments regarding upcoming VENT tours. First, I invite you to join us next week for a free webinar in which my colleague Barry Lyon and I will discuss the highlights of our 2018 cruise to Greenland and Iceland. Second, two spaces are newly available on a special late August trip that I will co-lead to Big Bend National Park and the Davis Mountains. Third, VENT leader Di...


VENTflash #221

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Victor Emanuel: June 28, 2017

Dear friends: One of the great pleasures of being a VENT tour leader is the opportunity to share birds and nature with the wonderful people who join our trips. Good times on our Texas Hill Country tour, 2017 — Photo: Barry Zimmer Over the years we have tried to correct some mistaken impressions about our tours. Some people have told me they are not "expert enough" to go on a VENT tour. In response, I explain that on a "typical" tour we have participants who have been birdin...


VENTflash #220

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Victor Emanuel: June 06, 2017

Dear friends: After several visits to my beach house on the Upper Texas Coast this April, I found it difficult to leave Texas for Europe in advance of our Birds & History cruise to Sicily and Malta aboard the Sea Cloud. In late April, warblers are still coming through in numbers, and I had yet to see some of my favorites including Blackburnian, Cerulean, and Golden-winged. However, duty called, and the prospect of traveling aboard the lovely Sea Cloud with a wonderful group of people and ...


VENTflash #219

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Victor Emanuel: April 25, 2017

Dear friends: As we've reached the middle of spring, I am reminded again and again why April is my favorite month of the year. Where I live in central Texas, April is glorious—the trees are rife with fresh green leaves, spring wildflowers reach their peak displays, and migrating birds are on the move. April is also a time when I most enjoy spending time at my beach house on the upper Texas coast in close proximity to the famed Bolivar Flats and High Island bird sanctuaries. Hoo...


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