Flora and Fauna

Comma Butterfly

 Frog

  

Mallard Duck


Foston’s wildlife, its ‘biodiversity’ is typical of agricultural landscapes in Lincolnshire. People first started colonising in the region area during the Bronze Age, prior to their arrival the whole area would have been dense oak-ash woodland. The name ‘Kesteven’ comes from the Celtic ‘coed’ meaning forest. As human populations grew the forests were felled to make way for agriculture and the last wolves, bears and other large mammals that once roamed through the parish were hunted to extinction.

The few scattered woodlands still remaining in south Lincolnshire are typically on boulder clay soils which were historically tough to plough. This absence of trees is now a feature of much of south Lincolnshire. Steps are being taken to redress this however and the Willow Lakes Fisheries (a private fishing and caravan site) is helping to increase local biodiversity reliant on woodland habitats. The recent increase in tree cover has been reflected in more regular sightings on woodland-associated species such as both Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers and the Speckled Wood butterfly which have all been appearing in gardens.

Away from the village centre, Foston is surrounded largely by arable farmland with some pasture. Small amounts of semi-natural vegetation remain with a selection of common hedgerow and field margin grasses and flowering plants. Frequently encountered medium-sized mammals include Brown Hares and Rabbits with occasional Red Foxes, Badgers and Roe and Fallow Deer. Perhaps Otters are already on the river in the village?

Photographs:
Comma butterfly.
Common frog,
Mallard duck (drake).

Grass snake

Vole

Hedgehog

Certainly they are now close by. Common smaller mammals include Hedgehogs, Weasels, Stoats, Common and Pygmy Shrews, Common Pipistrelles and several rodents. Water Voles at least formerly occurred on the river but have declined nationally due to habitat modification and Mink predation.
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Grass Snakes have been recorded on a few occasions along with Smooth Newts, Common Frogs and Common Toads. Arguably The River Witham’s most important inhabitant may (if they still persist) be the White-clawed Crayfish, the species is in sharp decline nationally.

Of all the village biodiversity the birds are best known; at least 109 species have been recorded in the village. Most obvious in the village are the House Sparrows and Starlings (although both have declined greatly) along with Chaffinch, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, and Collared Doves. Rooks are now noticeable by their absence in the centre of the village as the Rookeries have slowly dwindled away to the one on the A1. Spotted Flycatchers are another sad loss. The creation of the fish ponds has stimulated colonisation by some common wetland birds such as Greylag Geese and also acts as an important stop-over point for other migrant birds such as Common Terns.

Generally the numbers of most bird species are declining and farmland birds have been particularly badly affected in the last twenty years or so, a few pairs of Yellow Wagtails still hang on in the parish as do Yellowhammers and Linnets but Tree Sparrows, Turtle Doves and Lapwings apparently no longer breed here. A complete annotated list of the birds of Foston can be found here - /Birds_2373.aspx The pair of Curlews that formerly nested in unimproved grassland by the river are now ‘missing’ but still hold out hope that this now globally threatened species will not vanish for good. Bucking the trend of declines are birds of prey like Barn Owls, Sparrow hawks and Common Buzzards (Kestrels are not faring well) and some small birds like Goldfinches and Bullfinches.

Some butterflies are common in the gardens in the summer months such as Red Admirals, whites and sometimes migrant Painted Ladies. Farmland butterflies are in steep decline and some species such as the Wall Brown have disappeared from the village altogether. Moths are under surveyed, notable is the regular appearance of Hummingbird Hawk-moths to gardens in the summer.

We hope that more efforts to plant trees in hedgerows and along the river Witham and Foston beck might help reverse some of the declines in parish wildlife.

Photographs:
Grass snake,
Vole and
Hedgehog

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