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Rithet's Bog LogoThe Triumphant Return of the Trumpeter Swan
- The Birds Have not Been Spotted in a Decade.

Saanich News – February 18, 2004 - Vern Faulkner

Gareth Morgan was infused with a sense of awe when he spotted a pair of Trumpeter swans glide into a landing at Rithet’s Bog.

Morgan was one of the first to witness the return of Trumpeter swans to Rithet’s Bog after a 10-year absence, although he didn’t know it at the time.

“It’s just incredible – the size of them is just so grand,” he said. “You can pick them out in the bog so easily.”

Morgan is a part owner of the Broadwalk coffee shop on Chatterton Way, directly opposite the bog. It was only after he spoke to Sharon Hartwell that he discovered that Trumpeter swans haven’t been seen in the bog for a decade.

Hartwell, president of the Rithet’s Bog Conservation Society, says the return of the swans is quiet testament to the countless hours of work volunteers have turned in the last two years clearing old willow growth from the bog.

“One of our goals when we did our rehabilitation project to see if we could bring some swans back,” said Hartwell.

When the neighbourhood was still farmland 20 years ago swans regularly wintered there.

Saanich Parks department staffers cut down large quantities of invasive willow from the bog two years ago as part of a project made possible with a grant from Ducks Unlimited. This year, some 90 army cadet volunteers removed vast quantities of debris from the bog, creating open expanses of water.

Hartwell said that open water is more enticing and is proving a better landing area for the large waterfowl.

Avid bird-watchers, some participating in ongoing survey of species diversity in the bog, have seen the swans in the morning. Others report the swans flying in from the west at night.

Hartwell said the seven swans are commuting form daytime feeding grounds at Panama Flats.

“A lot of times, you see swans on old fields where vegetables used to be,” says Hartwell.

She speculated the swans find it much easier to pick over the remnants of vegetables left at the Panama Flats (which is located in Saanich between Interurban and Carey roads) than root around in Rithet’s Bog.

Nonetheless, she’s delighted that a small number have chosen to use Rithet’s Bog as their evening residence.

Morgan has seen the swans on two occasions, while commuting to and from his coffee shop.

“They always seem to be in the morning – the two times I’ve seen them are around 9:30 or 10 a.m.,” he said. “The last time I saw them, there were seven, all together in one little corner of the pond.”

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