I birded Normanskill Farm this morning. It wasn’t a particularly busy morning – two Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Cape May Warbler (all males) being the only through-migrant warblers – but I did note a handful of new arrivals to the farm. A male Orchard Oriole was singing on territory, and I picked out a single Cliff Swallow among several Barn Swallows. I also saw at least two singing Bobolinks with the more common blackbirds in the grassy field north of the community garden. In addition to the smattering of warblers, I also spotted a Swainson’s Thrush and a pair of White-crowned Sparrows passing through on their northbound journey.
One last note: early on in my visit, I saw a presumed Albany Police Department employee (he was on property restricted to APD employees and wearing an APD sweatshirt) taking potshots with a crossbow at the flock of Wild Turkeys that often feeds on the APD horse paddock just west of the Whipple truss bridge off Normanskill Drive. I know it’s turkey season and it’s legal to hunt turkeys with a crossbow, but I wondered about the legality of hunting on City property near APD buildings, even by City employees. Crossbow regulations on the NYSDEC website state that “Without landowner permission, crossbows may not be discharged within 250 feet of any home, school, building or playground, public structure, farm structure in use or occupied factory or church.”
Whether or not this person had permission from the APD or the City, or whether he was on duty at the time would be nothing but speculation on my part. I will state that I have nothing against hunting and while I’m not a turkey hunter, I’m familiar with the usual practices involved: what bothered me about this incident is that it seemed less a serious turkey hunting effort and more like an impromptu, idle round of target practice.