The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 24th, 2013

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shortly after leaving the East River Ferry at 2nd street in Long Island City the other day, and having found a convenient and quite well hidden spot to urinate upon (scent marking my territory should another photo blogger happen by), a general flurry of photography was undertaken.

My practice these days is to limit myself to just two or three shots of any particular subject, randomly encountered, yet despite this rule- so many interesting things were happening all around me on the walk back to Astoria that I ended up cracking out nearly 300 shots in just a couple of miles. One in three ended up making it into the permanent collection, and around half of those ended up at my Flickr account.

It was down in DUPBO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, that I first noticed something out of the ordinary.

from wikipedia

Scent marking (also known as spraying or territorial marking) is behavior used by animals to identify their territory. Most commonly, this is accomplished by depositing strong-smelling substances, sometimes by urinating on prominent objects within the territory. Often the scent contains carrier proteins, such as the major urinary proteins, to stabilize the odours and maintain them for longer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots will look a bit rough, as I was armed only with short lens, rather than the sort of telescopic unit which would provide for a longer optical reach. Normally these wouldn’t pass the QC test and be presented to you lords and ladies, but on this particular day in early April- a pair of Swans were plying the waters of the Nations most polluted and highly industrial waterway.

Such an occurrence requires some comment.

from wikipedia

Many of the cultural aspects refer to the Mute Swan of Europe. Perhaps the best known story about a swan is The Ugly Duckling fairytale. The story centres on a duckling that is mistreated until it becomes evident he is a swan and is accepted into the habitat. He was mistreated because real ducklings are, according to many, more attractive than a cygnet, yet cygnets become swans, which are very attractive creatures. Swans are often a symbol of love or fidelity because of their long-lasting, apparently monogamous relationships. See the famous swan-related operas Lohengrin and Parsifal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Extreme cropping, Swans.

The surprising diversity of life found along this waterway, which certain Government officials have referred to (in person, to me) as a “dead sea.” They’re joining the Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Night Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ospreys, and dozens of other exotic species which have been witnessed here. Swans.

also from wikipedia

The swans are the largest members of the waterfowl family Anatidae, and are among the largest flying birds. The largest species, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, and whooper swan, can reach length of over 1.5 m (60 inches) and weigh over 15 kg (33 pounds). Their wingspans can be almost 3 m (10 ft). Compared to the closely related geese, they are much larger in size and have proportionally larger feet and necks.[2] They also have a patch of unfeathered skin between the eyes and bill in adults. The sexes are alike in plumage, but males are generally bigger and heavier than females.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stunned by the sighting, I wasn’t paying attention when a flash of movement from within this ancient sewer caught my attention. Can’t tell you what it was, but it was big and shaggy. A raccoon perhaps, or an enormous rat, but an eerie sense of presence seemed to permeate the aperture. I’m probably just being paranoid, but… what if?

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

from wikipedia

The worms can survive with little oxygen by waving hemoglobin-rich tail ends to exploit all available oxygen, and can exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen through their thin skins, in a manner similar to frogs. They can also survive in areas heavily polluted with organic matter that almost no other species can endure. By forming a protective cyst and lowering its metabolic rate, T. tubifex can survive drought and food shortage. Encystment may also function in the dispersal of the worm. They usually inhabit the bottom sediments of lakes, rivers, and occasionally sewer lines and outlets.

Also: Upcoming Tours!

A free event, “Watch Wildlife on Maspeth Creek with NCA and DEC!” – Friday, April 26
Meetup at Maspeth Creek at 1 p.m., for more information visit

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

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