I then spied two palm warblers flitting about nearby. Their rusty caps, yellow body, and bobbing tail were welcome sights. Walking around the parking lot, I also spotted a pair of blue-headed vireos near the top of a birch tree. They didn’t stay long, taking flight across the road. Soon thereafter, a large gravel truck rumbled down the road, checking in at the construction gate before proceeding further south. I turned and headed for the trails, and immediately heard a ruby-crowned kinglet singing before I even stepped on the boardwalk. Great, I thought. This must be where all the birds are! But I was soon disappointed. The only bird that I encountered along the marsh trail was a lone chickadee. That is, until I passed the second Marsh Loop intersection when I heard a wren-like song. I turned and realized that it was a northern waterthrush. It sang again, and as I stepped onto the loop trail, the bird flew up from a wet area just under the boardwalk in front of me and quickly disappeared into the thicket.
I later heard a parula warbler near the old blind, but the sound was drowned out by the gravel truck traffic that had picked up considerably along the road. Marsh wrens sang out in the marsh and I saw a coot feeding along the edge of the dike. I walked the entire Dunes Trail and heard a field sparrow and more brown thrashers, but little else. It wasn’t the warbler bonanza that I had been hoping for. As I traveled back up the refuge road in my car, more trucks sped down, well above the 25 mph speed limit, and I thought about the birds that so frequently cross, or feed, along the road. How many more fatalities will occur this season?