I have just returned from Vietnam where, along with two friends, I explored three forested national parks: Cuc Phuong, Phong Nha-Ke Bang and Cat Tien. We observed a range of birds and other wildlife, including some rare primates, but our main objective was to find and study woodpeckers. There are 18 species of picid in Vietnam, and we observed 10 of them: White-browed Piculet Sasia ochracea, Grey-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus, White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis, Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus, Red-collared Woodpecker Picus rabieri, Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus, Common Flameback Dinopium javanense, Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Black-and-buff Woodpecker Meiglyptes jugularis. However, most of our time was concentrated on searching for and observing 2 species: the rare 'Near-Threatened' Red-headed, and the bamboo-dwelling Pale-headed. Both of these woodpeckers are rather shy, and often difficult to observe, the former inhabiting thick rainforest and the latter dense stands of mature bamboo, I was particularly pleased to obtain sound recordings of the call of Red-headed and drumming of Pale-headed. Adjacent photo: male Lesser Yellownape race annamensis, Cat Tien NP, November 2015 (Gerard Gorman).
This is as close as I have ever been to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis. Female (left) and male (right) specimens in the Vienna Museum of National History, Austria. The debate over whether this species still exists or not goes on, although it does not rage as much as it did in the years following reports of sightings in the USA in 2005 and 2005. The IUCN class this bird as Critically Endangered. It is, sadly, probably but not officially extinct.