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

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...

VENTflash #164


Victor Emanuel: September 10, 2013

Dear friends, In August I went on a vacation to Panama, one of my favorite countries for birds and nature. My first trip to Panama was in December 1978, and VENT's first Panama tour operated one month later. Those trips began a long and delightful association with that beautiful country. Over the years, VENT has operated over 100 Panama tours to almost all areas of the country. In addition to our regular birding tours, we've organized three birding festivals in Panama to raise ...

VENTflash #163


Victor Emanuel: August 27, 2013

Dear friends, About a year ago I received a call from a woman named Ann Cullen Smith asking VENT to help save the famous Paton hummingbird property in Patagonia, Arizona. Over the years, Ann has traveled on several VENT trips, which is how I came to know her. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but what is so remarkable about her is that she also happens to be 104 years old. Let's just say that I don't get many phone calls from birders over 100 who are still trying to save birding sites. ...

VENTflash #162


Victor Emanuel: August 13, 2013

Dear friends, During the second half of July, I co-led a marvelous Wild Alaska cruise which traveled the length of the Alaska Peninsula from Seward to Dutch Harbor and the Eastern Aleutian Islands, then north through the Pribilofs, Hall and St. Matthew, and the Diomedes before finishing in Nome. Horned Puffins — Photo: Kevin Zimmer This was my fourth voyage to the Bering Sea region. We had barely left the dock on the first afternoon when several groups of Orcas and Hum...

VENTflash #161


Victor Emanuel: July 08, 2013

Dear friends, In June, my colleague Barry Lyon and I had the pleasure of leading three "owl prowls" for kids attending a series of summer camps just west of Austin. The camp program, "El Ranchito," is designed for boys and girls from lower income families, most of whom have never camped or spent much time outdoors. Eastern Screech-Owl - Photo: Barry Zimmer On each visit we were able to show them an Eastern Screech-Owl. Owls have a special allure since most are noct...

VENTflash #160


Victor Emanuel: June 19, 2013

Dear friends, I spent the first weekend in June visiting friends just outside Barrington, Illinois. Down the slope from their house is a marvelous tall grass prairie that was restored over the past 10 years. Harkening back to the nineteenth century, the area was filled with a rich assortment of prairie grasses and flowers including the famous Compass plant, a composite that can grow to 10 feet tall by late summer! Bobolinks were numerous, with male birds performing courtship flights...

VENTflash #159


Victor Emanuel: May 30, 2013

Dear friends, When I first heard about an event called The Biggest Week in American Birding, I thought the title sounded a little hyperbolic. But after spending four days in northwestern Ohio this May, attending the event for the first time, I came to realize that the name, while making a big claim, is accurate. The central birding area is the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, where I birded every day and ultimately saw 22 species of warblers. Of my many experiences, what impressed me the most was th...

VENTflash #158


Victor Emanuel: May 02, 2013

Dear friends, After a lovely week at my beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula near High Island, I've come to the conclusion that it is impossible to see enough warblers! The sight of even one fresh-plumaged warbler in the springtime simply whets your appetite to see more. In all, I ended up seeing a total of 22 warbler species on this most recent visit. Hooded Warbler — Photo: Greg Lasley In addition to birding, I also spent time with two of the three VENT tours that visited...

VENTflash #157


Victor Emanuel: March 29, 2013

Dear friends, This autumn marks the twenty-third year since Kevin Zimmer took over the reins of VENT's Southeastern Brazil tour program from legendary ornithologists Ted Parker and Robert Ridgely. After two years, Kevin was joined by Andrew Whittaker, and they have been enthusiastically sharing the marvelous Atlantic Forest avifauna of Southeastern Brazil with our groups ever since. Iguacu Falls — Photo: Kevin Zimmer In our opinion, Brazil is one of the great birding and wi...

VENTflash #156


Victor Emanuel: March 25, 2013

Dear friends, Over the last month I've led two tours—an Amazon River Cruise in Peru and the Rockport, Texas Birding Workshop—that rank among the best trips I've ever been a part of. Red-bellied Macaws— Photo: Angel Cardenas Unless you've traveled to the jungles of South America, the region we call "Amazonia" is unlike any place you've ever been. When traveling to Amazonia for the first time, nothing you read or study can prepare you for the actual richness and b...

VENTflash #155


Victor Emanuel: February 15, 2013

Dear friends, For almost 20 years, VENT has operated an annual trip for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Chairman's Council and Administrative Board. The places we like to visit with this group include a diversity of domestic and international destinations, and all offer the essential combination of great birding and excellent accommodations. This year's trip, which finished up last weekend, was to the Sueño Azul Resort in Costa Rica. This short getaway focused on the famed...

VENTflash #154


Victor Emanuel: January 30, 2013

Dear friends, This week I returned from the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida. This festival attracts the largest gathering of birders of any birding and natural history oriented event in the country. It was started in 1998 by Laurilee Thompson, a fifth generation Floridian who can trace her ancestry in the state to before the Civil War when her great-great-grandfather came up the St. John's River and settled. Following a career in commercial fishing,...

VENTflash #153


Victor Emanuel: January 09, 2013

Dear friends, The end of one year and the beginning of another is a time to look to the past as well as to the future. When I started birding in 1948, there was only one field guide available to birders, A Field Guide to the Birds (guides for eastern and western North America) by Roger Tory Peterson. Now there are a number of excellent guides including Kenn Kaufman's Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, David Sibley's The Sibley Guide to Birds, and the National Geographic Fi...

VENTflash #152: Last Chance for Early Registration Savings!


Victor Emanuel: January 04, 2013

Dear friends, With the new year underway, I want to remind you about several early registration discounts we are offering on our upcoming Alaska tours (June 2013), and on birding and natural history cruises to the Galapagos Islands (July 2013) and Lesser Antilles (February 2014). These special offers present rare opportunities to save money on travel to world-class destinations; however, these chances for savings will expire soon!ALASKAMale Willow Ptarmigan, Alaska — Photo: Barry Z...

VENTflash #151


Victor Emanuel: December 20, 2012

Dear friends, This month marked a very special occasion for VENT when the majority of our U.S.-based tour leaders came to Austin to join our office staff for a two-day company meeting. Although our time together was short, I felt the event was very successful and also a lot of fun. Since our leaders reside across the country, many of them seldom see one another except when co-leading tours while others essentially never cross paths. Additionally, our leaders and office staff rarely have the o...

VENTflash #150: Holiday Sale!


Victor Emanuel: December 05, 2012

Dear friends, Last year we rang in the holiday season with our first-ever Holiday Sale. That event proved so popular that we have decided to do it again this year!For a limited time, December 5-21, 2012, we are offering discounts of 25% or 10% off two spaces on a select set of 2013 tours. These spaces are offered on a first-come basis and we anticipate they will sell out quickly. Please contact us right away to take advantage of this rare opportunity.Red-crowned Cranes, Kushiro, Japan —...

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